The science of germs is fascinating. And learning about them is a great way to show kids how important it is to wash their hands. They need to know what germs are—microscopic bacteria and viruses that may make you sick—as well as how easily germs spread. And germ education doesn’t have to be a lecture or a health textbook. Try these fun ways to teach kids about germs.
1. Glitter Germs
This is a great lesson to show kids how germs are spread. Each student gets a different color of glitter to coat their hands with and then shakes hands. They’ll see the glitter transfer … and that it doesn’t come off without soap!
2. Germ Detectives
Here’s a fun DIY activity to teach kids about germs. In this one, you’ll use “germ powder” (flour or cornstarch) on blocks and have kids pick them up. Ask them to clap to show how germs travel from surfaces to hands to the air.
3. Read Aloud
There are tons of engaging picture books that can teach kids about germs while simultaneously making them giggle. Our picks are Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost and Sick Simon by Dan Krall.
4. Hot Potato Germ Exchange
Take a sponge dusted with flour or cornstarch (again representing germs) and have kids sit in a circle. Invite them to pass the sponge along as fast as possible for 30 to 60 seconds to see how easy it is to pass germs without even knowing it.
5. The Pom-Pom Sneeze
For a demonstration of what happens when you don’t cough or sneeze into your elbow, take a handful of pom-poms and pretend to cough or sneeze. You’ll send the pom-poms flying in front of you!
6. Shake Those Germs
Similar to Glitter Germs, this activity also involves shaking hands. This time, kids use different-colored finger paint instead of glitter. Then they can use the paint to make “germ portraits.”
7. Germ Coloring Pages
These adorable coloring pages are both fun and educational, with a cartoonish version for grades K-2 and a more scientific one for grades 3-5. For the younger set, try this cut-and-paste germ education activity.
8. Glow Away Germs
Glo Germ Gel is worth its weight in gold when it comes to showing kids how effective their handwashing is. Let them wash their hands and then have them apply the gel-like lotion. Under ultraviolet light, they can see all the places they missed … and pay extra attention to them the next time they go to wash!