The Best Ways to Teach Hand Washing for Kids

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Inside: Find five super fun ways to teach hand washing for kids. These hand washing activities for preschoolers will help kids learn about germs through play, science, songs, and hands-on practice with hand washing.

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My daughter dashed into the kitchen ready for a snack. I almost handed her the plate of oranges, before I did a double take. Her hands and face smeared with smudges of dirt, food and other miscellaneous substances from the day.

This scenario was something that happened regularly with my preschooler, so I realized it was essential to take the time to explain why hand washing for kids is so valuable, to my daughter.

This was even more essential when she had a runny nose, allergies, or a cold.

Teaching hand washing for preschoolers is important for every child. However, we try to be especially aware of germs, which can cause colds, and allergens, which can trigger seasonal allergies, that have affected my family in the past.

As I prepared a few fun activities for my daughter to teach her about germs, I also educated myself on things like some ways to help tell the difference between indoor and outdoor allergies using the Smart Allergy Mom Toolkit® by the makers of Children’s Claritin®. This is an online resource to help moms understand and manage their kids’ allergies.

Hand Washing for Kids

Here, I have put together five fun hand washing activities for preschoolers. These activities will help kids learn through play, science, songs, and hands-on practice with hand washing.

Hand Washing for Kids Activities

hand washing for kids

Glitter Germs Activity

For this hand washing activity, you’ll need lotion and glitter. First, place a small dab of lotion in a bowl. Next, add some glitter. Finally, mix it and then spread it on your little one’s hands.

Explain that the glitter is like the germs and allergens that we pick up as we go throughout the day. The best way to get them off is by washing our hands.

Finally, let your little one practice washing his or her hands.

how to teach hand washing in a fun way

Hand Washing Play with a Glove

Another fun germ activity for preschoolers is to role play washing a hand by using a glove.

First, fill a latex glove with water and freeze it overnight. Or, if you are short on time like me, blow air into a rubber glove and wrap a rubber band around the end.

Following that, use washable markers to add “germ and allergens” to the gloves. Next, fill a small bin with warm water.

Now you are ready for the hand washing fun! Have your little one use soap and practice washing the germs and allergens off of the glove. Then, dry the glove using a towel.

hand washing steps for preschoolers

Wash Hands Sing Along & Practice

Model exactly how to wash your hands by explaining each small step.

  1. Turn the water on.
  2. Wet your hands.
  3. Get one pump of soap and rub hands together.
  4. Rinse your hands for about 20 seconds.
  5. Dry your hands.

To make this even more fun, you can teach a hand washing song to sing during these steps. Here is one of my favorite songs to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat:

“Wash, wash, wash your hands,

With water and some soap.

Count to 20, start with one,

Keep scrubbing till your done!”

hand washing benefits experiment

Bread Experiment

This experiment shows the science behind why it’s important for kids to wash their hands by showing ‘hidden’ aspects of microorganisms . It will take about 5-7 days to see the full effects of the germs on the bread.

For this experiment, you’ll need three pieces of bread and three zippered plastic bags, and a marker.

  1. Label the bags with these labels: control, clean hands, and dirty hands.
  2. Use tongs to put a piece of bread in the bag labeled “control.” Next, have your child(ren) touch the second piece of bread BEFORE they wash their hands and place it in the bag labeled “dirty hands.”
  3. Have your child(ren) wash their hands and then touch the last piece of bread and place it in the bag labeled “clean hands.”
  4. Have them predict what will happen to each bag. Then, observe the pieces of bread each day and discuss what they see.

Here are the results from a teacher, Courtney Lee Simpson:

bread experiment results
Courtney Lee Simpson bread experiment results

While this is more applicable to germs than allergens, it helps illustrate the importance of keeping clean and paying attention to the ‘invisible’ factors that can affect the way that we feel.

hand washing activities for preschoolers

Cinnamon Hands Activity

Now, preschoolers can put their hand washing skills to the test with the cinnamon hands activity.

You sprinkle cinnamon on a flat surface like a plate. Then, pat your child’s hands in the cinnamon.

Next, explain how this is similar to germs and allergens that gather on their hands during the day, that they can’t see.

Now, their job is to wash their hands and try to get all of the cinnamon off.

Wrapping Up Hand Washing for Kids

Teaching young children how to wash their hands can be fun, educational and lead to healthier hand hygiene.

Hand washing skills are a great way to keep germs and allergens at bay, especially if your little one is prone to struggles with allergies. We use Children’s Claritin® that we purchased from Walmart because it provides 24 hour relief of runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and itchy nose or throat and it’s the #1 Pediatrician Recommended Non-Drowsy Oral Allergy Brand for children ages 2 years and up.

If your little one needs some relief from allergies you can grab a coupon for $3 off Children’s Claritin® here.

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