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Explain Germs to Kids: A Hands-On Activity

A simple and fun hands-on activity to teach your kids about germs, how they spread, and effective handwashing to get rid of them!

Germs! They’re everywhere, especially when you have young children. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, I find myself trying to explain what exactly is going on to my kids. Why school is closed, why I am constantly reminding them to wash their hands/keep their fingers off their face/cover their mouth/insert all the other gross things preschoolers do. I have found some fantastic resources, such as this one put together by PBS Kids, but even knowing how to talk to them didn’t mean that anything I was saying was actually making any sense. The idea is so abstract that I just don’t think it’s possible to explain germs to kids their age by just using words. So I set out to find a hands-on activity that could demonstrate better than my empty words and came across this popular Pinterest experiment that we recreated!

Glitter Germs

Alright, so there may be some debate over what is more terrifying: glitter or germs 😅, so pretending that our little sparkles were yucky little microorganisms wasn’t that big of a stretch. The kids lotioned up their hands and I poured glitter on top, giving each of them a different color. After rubbing their hands together to spread their “germs” around, I told them to shake hands with each other and see what happened. Such a simple activity acted as a great visual to see how each of their “germs” transfer through contact!

Using glitter and lotion to teach handwashing
How to explain germs to kids with this simple glitter activity

I kept it going by pulling out some small toys for them to play with and afterwards showed them how they were even sharing their “germs” by playing with the same toys! Minds blown!

A simple activity to explain germs to kids along with the importance of handwashing !

The Importance of Handwashing

Now that they were getting it, it was time to wash up. We revisited the importance of using water, soap, AND washing for long enough. We’ve used “twinkle twinkle” in the past, but I’ve been teaching them the below song since seeing it shared sometime last week. I love that it acts as a timer and offers directions (because we’re all familiar with the preschooler “squirt soap and rinse it off” technique 😑. We practiced washing all of the glitter germs off their hands and toys, plus extended the activity by letting them continue to play in the soapy water !

Simple handwashing song for kids
Visual by Abby Levin & Song credit to Jbrary

A few days have passed since we did this activity as a way to explain germs to the kids. It’s so reassuring to still hear their little voices singing the handwashing song throughout the day and feeling like I’ve helped them do their part to keep our little corner of the world nice and healthy! Stay well, friends!

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Use this hands-on activity to teach kids about spreading germs and how important it is to wash their hands! Helps kids visualize how germs spread between people and toys!
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1 Comment
  • Nicky
    March 23, 2020

    You are very brave to do a glitter activity!!

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Explain Germs to Kids: A Hands-On Activity