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PREVENT

Splash! Why we need a bath (lessons for kids)

Getting young children to take a bath or wash their hands properly can sometimes turn into a battle. While bathing and washing are personal things and everyone gets to make their own choices about them, there are good reasons for kids to understand why it's important to keep their bodies clean.

If your child fights clean-up time, explain to him or her that one very important reason to take a bath or shower is to wash away germs that can make us sick. Then demonstrate how easy it is to pass germs around.

Looking for germs using glitter

Explain that germs are a lot like glitter in that they get on everything we touch or that touches us. That's why it's so important to wash ourselves at the end of a day or after we've been very active or gotten dirty.

  • Give each child a small amount of petroleum jelly to rub on their hands.
  • Then sprinkle their hands with a bit of glitter. Have them shake hands with one another, and touch pieces of paper or other objects that can get a little bit glittery. (Caution…this can get MESSY!)
  • Once the kids have experienced how easy it is to spread germs (by touching other objects) instruct them to wash their hands thoroughly to remove all glitter.
  • Once everyone has had a chance to wash their hands, ask your kids about their experience and note that a quick rinse doesn't remove glitter or germs.

Effective hand washing

Once the child understands how germs are passed around, show them how to wash their hands effectively.

  • Teach the child a song to the tune of "Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush." The words are, "This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands; this is the way we wash our hands, to make sure they get clean."
  • Explain that this song can help you make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Using a clock or timer, see how long it takes you to sing the song. For example, if it takes 10 seconds to sing the verse, young people can sing it twice through so that they know that they have washed their hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Have the child practice washing their hands while singing the song.
  • If time permits, ask for suggestions of other verses and mime them together. One example is, "This is the way we wash our hair."

See the whole lesson at healthpoweredkids.org.

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