It may seem difficult to teach preschoolers about something they cannot see, as it this age they require visual and hands-on learning experiences to help them to grasp concepts that they may otherwise overlook. But there are hands-on science activities available to help teach preschoolers about the important topic that eludes their eyes: germs.
What are Germs?
Teach preschoolers about germs by showing them printouts of magnified germs or playing a SMART Board game like, “Find the Germs” from jazeebear.com, along with reading them age-appropriate stories about germs such as “Germs Make Me Sick” by Melvin Berger and “Achoo! The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read About Germs” by Trudee Romanek. After they have seen the germs, you can supply the preschoolers with a blank paper plate, markers, crayons, wiggly eyes, pom poms and other similar craft items and ask them to design their own germ.
A great way to teach preschoolers about how germs are spread is by simulating them with glitter or flour. Coat the children’s hands with the flour or glitter, and instruct them to go on about their usual business for a set amount of time, 15 minutes or two hours if you like. During this time, they may touch toys, desk, walls, each other, and each time, the glitter or flour will transfer, representing the transfer of germs. When they have completed the activity, the children will be able to see how quickly the germs have spread throughout the classroom just from their hands.
If you have already taught the children about how quickly germs spread from their hands, an activity that teaches them the proper method of hand washing taught while singing a fun rhyme can help to remind the preschoolers how to keep the germs off of their hands. Taking turns at a sink or using small dishpans with water and soap set up at stations, demonstrate to the children the proper method for washing their hands. While they wash, encourage them to sing a song (to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"), repeating two times to ensure that they have washed their hands for the proper length of time.
Wash, wash, wash our hands, Wash them every day. We scrub and scrub and scrub and scrub, For that’s the only way.
Preschoolers may not realize that they spread just as many germs when they sneeze as they do when they touch things. Demonstrate for them how many germs are spread during a sneeze with a science activity that uses a spray bottle with water. Ask the students to stand together while you stand just a foot away from them. Spray the bottle as you pretend to sneeze, and ask how many students got wet from the “sneeze.” Repeat the process a few times, moving a little further away each time to demonstrate to the students that even if you are not within touching distance of a person, you can still spread germs to them when you sneeze. Stress the importance of covering your nose when you sneeze to the preschoolers by placing a hand towel in front of the bottle when you spray it, to represent a tissue, and ask them if anyone got wet when the bottle was covered.
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