Hygiene activities teach elementary students important healthy habits. Instilling these habits at a young age increases the chances of the kids maintaining a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. Hands-on activities that demonstrate the importance of good hygiene make the biggest impact on the students.
Glitter works well to represent how germs are spread from one person to the next because it sticks well to the hands. Let each child rub in a small amount of lotion to make the glitter stick even better. Choose four or five volunteers from the glass to be the germ spreaders. Sprinkle a generous amount of glitter on the hands of the selected students. Have them hold their hands over a trash can to catch the extra glitter. They should shake off the excess glitter in the trash. Use a different color of glitter for each child so the kids can see how many different types of germs they receive. The entire class mingles shaking hands with one another for a few minutes. The glitter germs will transfer to the other hands. Many of the kids will end up with several different colors of glitter. Discuss the similarities between how the glitter and germs spread. Give each child a paper towel to wipe away the glitter germs. The students will notice the germs don't wipe off well. Have some of the students use cold water without soap to wash off the germs. Ask a few other students to use warm water with soap to wash off the glitter. Discuss which method is most effective in removing the glitter germs.
This activity helps the kids see how well they wash their hands. A special gel called Glo Germ works well for the demonstration. The kids rub the Glo Germ all over their hands. They wash their hands as they normally do. A UV light is then aimed on the hands. Any areas that weren't washed well will glow under the UV light. The kids will notice areas where they need to wash their hands better. This will likely be between the fingers and around the fingernails.
Dental health is another component of hygiene education. Homemade toothpaste is a simple activity to add dental hygiene into the classroom. There are several toothpaste recipes that will work. One option is to mix four parts baking soda, one part salt and one part flavoring such as peppermint extract. The students dampen a toothbrush before dipping it into the toothpaste.
This hygiene craft reminds the kids of the importance of covering their noses when they sneeze. A paper plate creates the face of the sneezing person. Let the kids draw the eyes, nose and mouth. They can also add hair and other features. Each child traces her hand onto a piece of paper and cuts it out. Staple or tape a tissue to the hand. Staple the hand to the edge of the paper plate so that the tissue covers the nose and mouth. The kids can pull back the hand and then cover the mouth and nose as the paper plate character sneezes.
- pots of glitter image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com