Simply put, germs are living organisms that are spread through saliva, sweat, and blood; they also make your body sick. Tell this to your child and you’re likely to get blank stares. Children know they need to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they cough, but how do you really teach them what germs are and how they work? How can you educate them instead of only instilling fear into them about germs? Fun activities are a great way to teach your children in an age-appropriate way about germs.
Break Out the Glitter
While a little messy, this is a fun way to teach children why it’s necessary to use soap when they wash their hands. Have your child dip their hands in glitter until they’re covered and then tell them to go wash their hands with water. Not all the glitter will come off. Talk about how germs also don’t come off with just water. Now have them wash with soap and water. Watch the glitter wash away and emphasize the importance of using soap to get rid of germs.
Play With Some Flour
Like the glitter game, let your child play in a pile of flour. Now give them an easily washed toy like a building block or Lego piece. Have them handle the toy for a minute. Then talk to them about how much flour they got all over the toy by just touching it for a short time. Explain to them that germs spread from object to object just as easily as the flour did to the toy.
Grab a Few Markers
This activity will really provide a visual for children on how germs spread. Give them some paper and a few markers or crayons to color small germs. Have them make a bunch of germs that you cut out for them. For the next half hour, have you child tape a germ on everything they touch. When they’re all out of germs, talk with them about how easily their germs spread throughout the house.
Collect Some Pom-Poms
Another fun activity that isn’t so messy is to give your child a handful of pom-poms. Have them fake sneeze or cough into the pom-poms and watch them go flying across the room. Leave the pom-poms where they are for a while. Use this activity to explain to your child how they spread germs by coughing or sneezing and how long germs linger after they’re spread.
Try a Word Search
Find free word scrambles and word searches online that use words related to learning about germs. Even if your child doesn’t understand all the words, they’ll most likely be able to find them. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about important concepts.
Many fun and easy activities exist to instruct your child about germs. While giving them a healthy education about the prevalence of germs, don’t scare them too much. Remember not all germs are bad; some germs are very good. Keep teaching your children about germs as they get older in age-appropriate ways, and you’ll establish healthy habits for their lifetime.