Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

I'm Going to Wash Those Germs Right Off of My Hands!

How to prevent the spread of germs

Patricia Turner, Natasha McIntosh | Published: October 19th, 2021 by Oklahoma Young Scholars/Javits

  • Grade Level Grade Level 1st, 2nd, Kindergarten, Preschool
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts, Science
  • Course Course
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1-3 class period(s)
  • Duration More 30 min


In this lesson, students will make observations on daily routines to understand how healthy practices can prevent the spread of germs. They will explore how "sticky" germs can be and how easily germs can be transferred by participating in a simulation using flour or glitter. The book, "No More Germs Please: A Book on Handwashing" will be read with the students. The students will create an anchor chart about the right way to wash hands and then post it in the classroom.

Essential Question(s)

Why is washing your hands so important?



Students participate in a Snap, Clap, Pop activity to activate their prior knowledge about how handwashing can help keep us stay well.


Students sort cards into three groups and place them in appropriate columns on a sorting mat. Students then participate in an activity to test how long it takes to get flour or glitter off of a pencil. The flour or glitter represents the germs that can be passed to a student’s hands. The class creates an “I Notice, I Wonder” chart to record their observations and questions about the exploration.


Students are active participants in the book reading: No More Germs Please: A Book on Handwashing. After reading the book students re-sort their card sort.


Students listen and take part in singing and acting out a song about handwashing. The class then puts together all of the information they have learned about why it is important to wash their hands by putting the info into an anchor chart that will be posted in the classroom.


Students participate in the activity Fiction in Facts (2 Truths & a Lie). Students work in groups to decide which statement is the lie and defend their choice.


  • Card Sort (attached)

  • Card Sort Mat (attached)

  • Fiction in the Facts (2 Truths and a Lie) attached

  • The Book: No More Germs Please: A Book on Handwashing by Ann Sequeira or an alternative choice

  • Chart paper and markers

  • Small trays or paper plates

  • Flour or glitter (1 cup of flour or 1 container of glitter is enough for the whole class)

  • Water and a sink or basin


Start the lesson by having students participate in a Snap, Clap, Pop activity. You can use the prepared statements that are listed below or make your own. For this activity, students listen to the statement and perform the assigned physical movement or call-out. After the Snap, Clap, Pop activity, ask students what they think the topic of the lesson is going to be. Students might respond by saying, “It’s about hand-washing”, “Germs”, or “Not getting sick!”


Ask students, “Has anyone ever asked you if you washed your hands today?” After they respond, follow with the question, “Why do we need to wash our hands?”

Continue the conversation by telling students that washing their hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Tell students, “Think about all of the things that you touched today — from the door handle to the seat of your chair, maybe you blew your nose in a tissue and then went outside to play on the big toy. Whatever you did today, you came into contact with germs, that is just how it is! You can't wear rubber gloves all day long or put your hands in plastic bags but you can wash your hands so those germs don't get a chance to make you or someone else sick.”

Next, students will explore how easily germs are transferred from objects and how to wash germs off. In this activity, flour or glitter simulates germs that could be found on a pencil or another classroom object. Cover pencils in flour or glitter by putting the pencils in a ziplock bag with either flour or glitter and shaking the bag until the pencils are coated, or just roll them in the flour or glitter.

Provide each pair of students with a small tray/plate and a pencil that has been covered with flour or glitter. Have students roll the pencils in their hands for a few seconds.

Start an I Notice, I Wonder chart with the class.

  • What do you notice? Possible responses: There is a lot of flour/glitter on our hands. the flour/glitter is hard to get off.

  • What do you wonder? Possible responses: Why did we do this? What is the flour/glitter supposed to be? How do we get it off of our hands? How do we get it off of the pencil?

Ask the students what the flour/glitter on their pencils is supposed to represent. Guide students to discuss germs or dirt if it is not mentioned.

Students then wash their hands and are timed to see the amount of time needed to get all of the flour or glitter off of their hands. Another option would be to time just two students washing their hands in the classroom sink. Then the remainder of the class would use the restroom sinks. This could also be done by having one boy and one girl demonstrate the hand-washing process, while the rest of the class adds to the I Notice, I Wonder chart.

To close this activity return to the I Notice, I Wonder chart and discuss.

  • Students might have noticed that:

    • it took longer to get their hands or the pencil clean than they originally thought.

    • that warm water made it easier

    • and soap helped

  • They might have wondered:

    • what made the flour stick to their hands and the pencil?

    • are germs that sticky?

    • what would happen if we only used cold water?

    • what if we didn’t use soap?


Read No More Germs Please: A Book on Handwashing by Ann Sequeira to the class. This is an interactive children's book on hygiene and handwashing. Students are prompted to think and then answer. Guide and prompt the students to actively participate while you read.

After the class has participated with the reading of the book give students time to re-sort their card sort. If attention is waning or time is limited put the card sort into a center for students to work on later.


Start by having the students listen and participate in a song about washing their hands. You can pick your own song or play this one: The Hand Wash Song by Krazy Kuzins.

Students will then put all of the information they have learned about why it is important to wash our hands into an Anchor Chart that will be posted in the classroom.


Students participate in the activity Fiction in the Facts (2 Truths & a Lie): Post the statements on the board and read them with the students. Students work in groups to decide which statement is the lie. Each group or pair of students should choose a person that will share their reasoning.

Possible Modifications:

  • Simplify by using one truth and one lie

  • Students individually show their choice by writing their responses on individual whiteboards

  • Students can create in groups two truths and a lie to present to the class.