Teaching kids about germs is essential in helping them stay physically healthy. We all know that kids and germs always go hand in hand. Especially with younger kids, who are not completely aware of the concept of keeping themselves healthy and taking precautions to avoid illness.
Kids love playing in puddles, in the dirt, and often eat their meals without washing hands.
Or forgetting to wash after using the bathroom. Unless you’re there to give that frequently parental reminder!
There are many simple methods parents can use to help their kids to understand more about how they can minimise their risk of exposure to harmful bacteria and nasties.
Best of all, you can make it fun for your children too!
Creating Healthy Habits in Children
Kids usually don’t mind being grubby! We all remember being there. Happy to play in the mud or pick their noses and eat it. Ewwww… but it’s true!
Kids can be gross! And breaking those unhygienic habits can feel like repetitive nagging.
Here are some quick tips to help encourage kids to wash their hands properly:
- Provide everything they need – Hand soap, a hand towel, you may even need a step for smaller children to reach.
- Make it easy – Ensure your child is confident with turning on taps, using the soap dispenser and knowing where to dry their hands.
- Wash hands for 20 seconds – This is a long time for children. Help them pass the time easily by having them sing a song or count to 20 each time they wash their hands.
At our children’s school, they teach the kids to sing Happy Birthday as they wash their hands, to encourage them to wash long enough.
RELATED: How to make cleaning fun
Fun ways of teaching kids about germs
Kids are always fond of learning something new if you will teach them with fun in mind. Here are some fun ways to teach kids about germs and staying healthy:
Create a pet germ
If your kids do not believe in the concept of tiny germ monsters, teaching them with the help of art and craft can be a perfect hands-on option.
Use playdough or slime and craft germ models for your kids. Roll the dough into a ball shape and attach Q-tips on both sides.
Add googly eyes or pipe cleaners to give it more personality
Using your germ playdough monster, explain to your child how germs can be harmful to their body and weaken their body’s defences. This is a perfect way to combine sensory fun with learning.
Alternatively, have the kids build their germ out of LEGO or blocks instead as a fun creative activity with LEGO.
Teaching Germs With Glitter
Kids love glitter and glitter is one of the fun ways to teach your kids about germs.
There are several simple demonstrations you can do to give your kids a visual representation of why they need to take care of their personal hygiene and hand-washing.
Glitter & Soap Experiment
This experiment reinforces the importance of washing hands with soap to remove harmful bacteria since water alone is less effective.
You will need these basic materials:
- Antibacterial hand soap
- A container filled with water.
Sprinkle glitter over the surface of the water and let your kids know that the glitter is the germs. Have your child dip their finger into the hand soap, so it is coated up to their first knuckle. Ask your child to attempt to touch the glitter in the water.
The soap will repel the glitter, compared to if they attempted to touch the glitter without the soap. You can try the same thing with pepper if you have no glitter.
This is a great educational video for teaching germs with glitter:
A very powerful and fun demonstration of germs spreading rapidly.
All you need for this experiment is a little glitter (a little goes a long way).
Smear a little glitter across the palm of your hand. Let your child know the glitter are germs they have had contact with.
Shake or hold hands with each of your children. When they check their hands, they will find glitter on them. Tell them not to wash it off and to go about their normal activities, paying attention to where the glitter ends up.
After an hour, ask your child if they noticed glitter appearing elsewhere – on their clothes, on their toys, on door handles, and most other things they have touched.
Tell them this is how invisible bacteria also spread when we don’t wash our hands properly.
Clean The Glitter Off
A way to teach children that water and soap is the most effective option to help them stay healthy.
For this demonstration you will need:
- Hand lotion
- Paper towel
For this demonstration, have your child add a small amount of lotion to their hands and rub in. Then sprinkle a small amount of glitter into the centre of their palm.
- Ask them to make a fist then open their hand. What do they see?
- Ask them to clap their hands together. What do they see now?
- Ask them to high 5 you. Now, what happens?
Each point on contact leaves glitter in more places. Their other hand, your hand, anything they touch. This shows them how easily germs are transferred when we don’t take care to clean our hands.
Now ask your child to clean the glitter off with paper towel. Did it work?
They will find that much of the glitter will remain. Now have them wash their hands with soap and water so they can see that this combination is far more effective for cleaning the glitter bacteria off.
Create a bacteria defender superhero
This is another great visual representation that allows kids to get a little creative. Draw a germ representation on a piece of paper and ask your child to create their own germ defender superhero.
Once they are finished, ask them to describe how their superhero will protect from the evil bacteria. Don’t forget to have your child name their superhero!
This is a cool way of teaching your child about the immune system and how their body is full of hero bacteria trying to keep them healthy.
It can also become a great reminder for kids in future, building it into their daily hygiene habits and handwashing routines by asking them if they have had a visit from their bacteria defender.
Show them magnified germs online
For kids who love science, they will be fascinated at seeing magnified germs. Show your kids germ videos online or educational images, to give them a visual representation of bacteria. Search for germs under a microscope to find plenty of image resources online.
Books To Teach Kids About Germs
Picture books are always a fun learning tool to have in your collection and one that works really well for younger children too.
Here are some great books to read with your child about germs:
- Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick: Amazon | Book Depository
- The Bacteria Book by Steve Mould: Amazon | Book Depository
- Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak: Amazon | Book Depository
- Germs Make Me Sick by Melvin Berger: Amazon | Book Depository
And if you do end up unwell, because sometimes it happens despite our best intentions, be sure to check out these ideas for keeping kids entertained – more than 100 activities to do at home.
These are some exciting and simple ways of teaching kids about germs, a tricky, yet important topic to keep them healthy. Get them ready to become germ busters with the inside knowledge on all things bacteria!
Now… go wash your hands!
For more resources for kids and learning:
- Tips to prepare your child for starting school
- Back to school supplies & essentials
- Children’s picture books about starting school
- Tips for temporary home schooling
- How to help your kids become more resilient
- How to bond with your child
- How to raise a confident daughter
- Tech-free benefits for kids
- Screen-free activities for families