Germs are tiny organisms or living things that can cause a range of diseases. Germs are very small and sneak into our bodies without even noticing. When germs creep into our bodies, we do not realize what hit us until we start developing symptoms that show that we have been attacked.
“But my hands are clean! Look at them. I don’t see any germs on them.”
This is what most kids suggest when they are told to wash their hands before eating. Kids think that germs are cooties (or any other gross stuff) and if they don’t see them, they don’t think they have them!
In this article, I have outlined how you would explain such a concept of germs to the kids and make them understand the importance of proper personal hygiene.
9 Fun Activities about Germs for Children
Use glitter activity to show kids how small germs are, how they spread, and how to protect themselves from them.
To demonstrate how germs can be spread, you will need water, soap, and glitter. Tell 3 or 5 children to rub their hands with glitter, then allow them to run around the class a bit touching surfaces and objects.
You can instruct them to play together with the building blocks for about 5 minutes. Point out the traces of glitter on many of the kids’ faces, hands, clothing, as well as building blocks.
You can now explain to them how the germs started with just five children, and now the glitter germs are on the building blocks and many children.
Proceed to allow them to wash their hands with water and soap to demonstrate how the glitter germs disappear after washing their hands.
Use flour to show how germs can hide. Using flour can be a great and fun way to demonstrate how germs hide on the skin.
To experiment, sprinkle flour on the children’s hands. Notice how the flour gets in between fingers and in the cracks of the skin.
Tell children that germs can do the same thing, and that’s why it is important to wash their hands properly at all times.
Look at germs close-up Tell children that just because they cannot see the germs, it does not mean they are not there.
Look at examples of germs magnified online. You will find all kinds of photos and YouTube clips of images and videos of germs, which the children will find exciting and fascinating.
4. Germ Songs
Sing songs. Kids love rhymes and music. There are so many fun and easy ways you can motivate them to practice good habits the way they like.
You can sing a song while teaching them how to wash their hands properly.
For example, you can teach children to sing to the tune of a row, row, row your boat.
Another one: Wash, wash, wash your hands, Wash them nice and clean… Scrub them here (show with hand motion how to scrub), Scrub them there (show scrubbing tops of hands), And scrub them in between (show with hand motion how to scrub between fingers)
5. Washing hands
Teach the kids how to wash their hands properly. Have the kids gather around the sink and show them the correct way to wash hands.
Go through the steps of handwashing and instruct kids to sing a simple song while they take turns washing their hands with soap and water and drying them with regular or paper towels.
How long should your child wash his or her hands? They should wash it long enough to be able to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
6. Create some visuals
For example, show your kids that germs are all over their bodies (before washing):
And that they quickly disappear from their body (after washing):
Books and educational videos about germs. Books are another fantastic, effective, and fun activity for teaching kids about germs.
There are tons of great books available online or in a local library that tell stories about germs and why washing hands is essential.
You can easily find educational videos about germs on YouTube as well.
7 Ways for your Child to Smell Good (Children’s Hygiene Checklist)
Hygiene is something that a child seems to always want to fight with you about! But as a parent, you know it’s important and you are doing your best to get the point through to them. So what are basic hygiene elements that every child needs to master?
- Washing hands. Since what the child touches during the day is totally unpredictable, washing hands before eating and after going to the bathroom is a very good habit.
- Wearing clean clothes. This seems basic, but your child would not care if he or she went to bed in clothes that they wore all day! Try picking cotton clothes for your child, since they absorb the most moisture, and insist on wearing clean clothes daily. Maybe a good game – do laundry with your child!
- Brushing teeth. All that food that gets stuck between your child’s teeth and bacteria (that is chewing on it) has to be removed twice daily, in the morning and before going to bed. Kids will do anything to skip that one somehow. Do your best to alert them about what is happening in their mouth (show some scary germ pictures).
- Taking a bath or shower. This has to be done daily to remove sweat and bacteria from the body. Areas, where bacteria are condensed the most (if not washed away), are armpits, genitals, and feet.
- Clipping nails. Lots of bacteria are sitting under the fingernails and toenails of your child and need to be removed.
- Washing hair. Anyplace there is hair – there is sweat, and that includes your child’s scalp. If not washed often enough, your child’s head will sweat and start itching. This is a very uncomfortable sensation for your child and if washing hair is neglected long enough, tiny parasitic insects called: “lice” will be happy to move in!
- Wiping clean after using the toilet. Sounds silly, but many children are confused about that one. They are afraid to TOUCH THAT (brown stuff that comes out) and may not wipe themselves as well as they should. You should always check on that one.
- Consider deodorant. If your child is really smelly or is getting into his or her teens, using fragrance-free deodorant for armpits can be considered.
Four Different Types of Germs that Cause Infections
There are four main types of germs, namely bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Not only do germs invade human bodies and make us sick, but they also invade animals and plants. When germs invade our bodies, they cause infections and inflammations, which lead to symptoms like fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and even rashes.
Here is a breakdown of the four types of germs:
- Bacteria – They are tiny, single-celled organisms that garner nutrients from the human body in order to live. This type of germ reproduces quickly and easily inside and outside the human body while causing nasty infections like pneumonia, tuberculosis, sore throats, cavities, and ear infections. (However, there are good bacteria that are essential in our bodies. These bacteria help keeps things in balance and is usually found in our digestive system.)
- Viruses – This kind of germ is not a full cell, which means they need a host in order to grow and reproduce. Viruses cannot survive for a long time if they are not inside a living thing such as a person, animal, or plant. Viruses cause measles, flu, chickenpox, HIV/AIDS, and many other diseases.
- Fungi – These multi-celled, plant-like organisms can live in water, soil, plants, and even in the air. But unlike other plants, fungi cannot make their own; instead, they get nutrition from animals, plants, and people. They love living in damp, warm environments. Fungal infections like yeast infections and athlete’s foot are not dangerous in a healthy person. But they can still cause itchy rashes on the human body.
- Protozoa – They are single-celled organisms, just like bacteria. They love moisture and usually spread diseases through water. Protozoa are the source of intestinal infections that cause diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, and other more severe illnesses like malaria and dysentery.
How Do Germs Spread?
Germs can be spread in numerous ways, but the most common ones are by contact and through the air.
- Direct or Indirect Contact. Germs lie in wait on the surface, having been left there by someone or something which is infected. When our hands get in contact with the infected surface, we then touch our eyes, nose, or mouth, thus letting the germs enter our body. Another way people spread germs is by sharing items such as pens or cups.
- Air. Germs can be spread through the air. When someone sneezes or coughs, they release tiny droplets containing germs into the air and can spread germs when they land on the surface or in another person’s eyes, mouth, or nose.
- Food. Germs can be spread by eating uncooked foods like salads, which can make you sick. Cooking raw foods kills the germs, which prevents the spread of germs.
Other ways germs are spread include preparing food with dirty hands, animals, dirty diapers, etc.
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