As cold and flu season approaches I like to work in some activities that teach the kids why proper handwashing and other hygiene practices are. The Glitter Germ Experiment helps kids to actually be able to see the “germs” and give them a more concrete understanding of how handwashing and germ prevention work.
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It can be hard especially for smaller children for them to understand that even though you can’t see them germs are everywhere!
Recommended Books About Germs
Want to learn more about germs? Head to your library to read one of these germ books to stress the importance of washing your hands to your kids.
The Bacteria Book: The Big World of Really Tiny MicrobesWhy Wash Your Hands? (Whimsical Rhyming Bedtime Story/Picture Book About Valuing Your Hands)Cutie Sue Fights the Germs: An Adorable Children’s Book About Health and Personal HygieneA Germ’s Journey (Follow It!)
Only four ingredients to start exploring how germs work. We really want to emphasize that even though we can’t see them, they’re are in fact germs everywhere.
On doorknobs, light switches and table tops.
Glitter Germ Experiment Supplies
- A shallow dish
- Blue dish soap
Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Original Scent, 8 ozSlime Supplies Glitter Powder Sequins for Slime,Arts Crafts Extra Solvent Resistant Glitter Powder Shakers,Bulk Acrylic Polyester Craft Supplies Glitter Loose Eyeshadow,Assorted Colors,12 Pack GlitterCreative Arts by Charles Leonard Glitter, 16 Ounce Bottle, Silver (41145)
Alternatives to glitter
If you’d rather not break out the glitter or you just don’t have any on hand, you can substitute edible food glitter or cocoa powder.
Glitter Germ Experiment Directions
Pour water into the shallow dish nearly to the edge.
Sprinkle glitter generously over the surface.
We did this experiment 2 ways, squirting soap directly into a mass of glitter floating on the water then we also coated a finger in soap and tried to touch the “germs”.
The coolest thing that really catches the kids interest is how when soap is added to the water the germs (glitter) quickly moves away. The more soap the faster the reaction.
This fun simple experiment can be done over and over.
Next, we went to the sink and practiced good handwashing practices
Using soap not just water, rubbing between fingers, all the way to the wrist and making sure it was long enough. We sing our ABC’s twice as we wash to make sure that they are nice and clean.
Fun Germ Kits and Toys
Explore germs and bacteria and even more when you have your own microscope. Or enjoy a germ plushie toy to cuddle with. They come in many shapes and sizes.
The Magic School Bus: The World of GermsOmano JuniorScope Microscope for Kids Microscope Science Kits for Kids Science Experiment KitsGIANTmicrobes Themed Gift Box – Plagues from HistoryGIANTmicrobes Plush Common Cold Microbes
Some questions to ask about germs
What is a germ?
How do they get on your hands?
How do you get them off?
Why do I need to wash my hands?
What does a germ look like?
Are all germs bad?
Find some videos so you can see what germs actually look like and how humans have to use microscopes to see them because they’re so small.
Talk about different illnesses that can be caused by bacteria such as colds, strep infections, E. coli and salmonella.
I like food examples because it lets them know that germs are all around us. But we cook our meat thoroughly to ensure we kill the bacteria so we can have dinner. And if food isn’t cooked properly, that’s who we get food poisoning.
It’s important to let our kids know that there is good and bad bacteria and each one has a job to do.
To emphasize how important it is to wash your hands, grab these printable hand washing posters to remind kids how often to wash their hands and to ensure it is done properly.
More Science Activities
Here are some more hands-on science experiments you might love to try with your kids!