My sister-in-law gave me a wonderful idea for teaching my kids about germs, and I just had to share it here.
I started out by reading the book, Germs Make Me Sick! Isn’t that the best title for a book? It is a “Let’s Read and Find Out” Science book. We have at least a dozen books from this series lying around, and they are great for kids. This one explains what germs are, how big they are, what bacteria and viruses can look like, how they attack, how they multiply, how white blood cells and antibodies fight them, how they are treated, and so on. All this is explained in a short book with lots of pictures, in a way that even very young children can understand.
After reading the book, I had the kids stand in a circle. I had Bubbles hold out her hands, and I smothered them with hand cream. Then I poured a lot of glitter on top. You really need to use a whole lot of cream and glitter for this to work well. I explained that germs were so small that we can not see them with our eyes, so we were going to use the glitter to see how germs spread. I had Bubbles shake the hand of Polly, then Polly shook Fred’s hand, Fred shook Princess’ hand, and we continued around the circle until everyone had a hand shake. The kids could see how germs are easily spread from person to person.
Following this was a lesson on hand washing. I won’t mention any names, but some of our children require frequent reminders to wash their hands, to use soap, to use water with the soap, to wash for more than a millisecond, to rinse them well, etc. Ironically, those children who tend to resist hand-washing were the ones who felt the most desperate need to wash the glitter from their hands! At the sink, I told the children, “Remember how I told you to wash your hands even when they don’t look dirty? That’s because you can’t see germs. Let’s see how good we have to wash our hands to get this glitter off…” They found that they really had to rub their hands hard, they had to use soap with lots of water, and they had to rinse them really well. Hopefully they’ll remember this when they need to wash their hands in the future.
Thanks for the great idea, Katie!