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Teaching Toddlers to Wash Their Hands

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi • updated: 3/2/2012

This toddler hand washing activity is a great way to help toddlers to see what they might be forgetting when they wash their hands. Students will get an education on proper hygiene even as they are entertained!

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    Toddler Hygiene

    Hand washing is an especially important tool for toddlers to learn for a couple of reasons. Toddlers are at a perfect age to learn about proper hygiene. That's because they often want to mimic adults and have just recently been potty trained. That means that adult who have good hygiene can set a standard that toddlers are likely to follow. This is especially important as the toddler is going to the bathroom by themselves and need to learn how to properly wash their hands.

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    The Activity

    To do this activity, you will need a black light and some petroleum jelly or Vaseline.

    Ask students to all go wash their hands as best they can. When the students come back, discuss the rules of washing hands. Let students talk about how they wash their hands. Then, show them the correct method for washing hands and explain why these steps are important.

    1. Use soap and warm water.
    2. Remember to get all the areas of the hands, including the fingernails and between the fingers.
    3. Hands should take enough time to wash that you can sing the "Alphabet Song" as you wash.
    4. When you are done washing your hands, dry them and use the towel to turn the water off and open the bathroom door.

    Now comes the fun part! Pass the petroleum jelly around. Ask students to dip some out with their fingers, then rub it in their hands like lotion. When students have done this, ask them to go wash their hands in the proper fashion. Once the students come back and are seated, let them know that you are going to turn off the regular lights and turn on a black light. Use the black light to look at the students' hands. Petroleum jelly appears to glow under a black light so that student will be able to see where they need to pay attention to when they wash their hands. Have students rewash their hands, then check them again with a black light.

    After the activity, discuss the various reasons that hand washing is so important. One good way to stress hand washing is by discussing proper food handling techniques in conjunction with a hand washing lesson plan.