Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Playgroup: Germs Be Gone!

Hello, hello! I loved our activity last Friday! A common issue in playgroups, schools, or just activity time at home is getting kids to wash their hands. Because we do so many hands-on crafts and eat so many delicious snacks with our fingers, it was high time to have a lesson on germs. It was fantastic!

We kicked off the hour with two stories. The first, I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer, was..less related to our theme, but was a cute story about how actions can lead to consequences that may or may not be what we want. The second, These Hands by Hope Lynne Price, led into our theme by giving examples of all the things that hands can do, such as eat, feed, hug, touch, and feel.

The main activity for our lesson was found on Twiggle Magazine's website in their lesson on germs and hand washing found here. I explained to the kids that I was going to show them how germs are spread. I pretended to sneeze, sprayed my hand with some cooking spray, poured some glitter on my hand, and asked them to shake my hand. The kids were hesitant, but as I would shake each of their hands some glitter would stick to them, and the next child they shook hands with would get glitter on them, too! We talked about how germs are spread, the importance of covering coughs and sneezes, and of course, hand-washing. I had one child wash his hands with soap, dry his hands with a paper towel, and show the other children how the "germs" had vanished. They loved it, and I think it got the point across!

Our next activity was created to help the kids practice washing their hands without even having to get them wet! With our large group, it would have been nearly impossible for us to gather everyone around the sink and have them practice, but this activity worked just as well. I gave each child a quarter piece of blue construction paper (I know it looks purple..but it was blue!) to rip into smaller pieces for our 'water.' I had made a bar of 'soap' in advance using pink construction paper and tape. I went around the table and had each child 'rub' a little bit of soap onto their hands, and then we pretended to use the paper as water to wash our hands. Together as a group we sang the ABC song while we washed our hands to practice how long hands should be washed. Proper hand washing should last 20 seconds, approximately how long it takes to sing the ABCs or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I'll share some more hand washing tips later.

We also colored scary germ pictures found here on Twiggle's website

And lastly, what hand washing activity is complete without a game of germ tag? The child who was 'it' tried to tag everyone (a child who was tagged would have to sit down and pretend to have a cold) while another child held a bar of soap and would un-germ the people who had been infected. It was a race between germs and sanitation! The kids took turns being the germ, the soap, and the runners.

Kids can learn proper hand washing at a young age! It can take a lot of practice, and modeling the behavior is the best way to help them learn. Here are some other tips for washing hands:
  • Wash with warm water
  • Use a generous amount of soap
  • Rub hands together for 20 seconds (use the ABCs to help you!)
  • Scrub thoroughly! Don't miss in between fingers, under nails, the backs of hands, and the palms. 
  • Dry hands with a paper towel
  • Hand washing is always best, but if no water is available, use a hand sanitizer with at least a 60% concentration of alcohol (the concentration needed to reduce the most germs possible)

Information taken from the Utah County Health Department and the CDC's hand washing page.

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