Germs are gross. As adults, we understand the danger of licking the handle of a shopping cart or taking a bite of a stranger’s sandwich. Do your children understand, though? Here are some great (fun) ways to teach them about germs! Who knows… you may even learn something yourself!
1. Teach them how easily germs are passed around. Like with many things in life, children often think of germs as “out of sight, out of mind.” They do not always realize that just because it isn’t visible doesn’t mean it isn’t there! A great way to demonstrate this is to get some cornstarch (representing germs from the stomach virus) and apply a small amount to a child’s hand. Have them turn and shake someone else’s hand, and work your way down the line. When it reaches the end of the line, explain that your family has now officially passed on the stomach virus that started with just one person! You can also have the children grab door handles, light switches, etc. to see how much of the germs pass on to inanimate objects that they touch all the time!
2. Show them the importance of washing their hands. After they’ve been playing outside, give them a slice of white bread and have them touch it all over before they wash their hands. Seal this piece in a bag and label it “Not washed.” Have the children apply Germ-x or another hand sanitizer and do the same with another slice of bread (touch, seal and label). Finally, have them wash their hands with soap and water and do the same to a third slice of bread. In a few days time, mold will begin to grow on the bread, and they can visually see what the bread with no washing did! They may feel differently about dirty hands from here on out!
3. Grow your own cultures! This is a fun way to teach your children about what kind of microscopic yuck is lurking around everyday objects. Using cotton swabs, go around and swab items. Get creative! Use vending machine buttons, toilet seats, fridge handles, the bottom of a shoe, etc. Place these swabs in a petri dish and see what develops! Before anything starts to grow, let the kids pick which they think will be the worst. Here are the complete steps!
These are great ways to teach about germs and have some science fun! Who knows? This may drastically cut back on the number of sick days your family uses this year!