Flu Season: Making Students Aware of Germs
My husband and I were sick all weekend. I even had to stay home sick on Monday. Lately, many of my students have been sick and missing school. This flu season we need to take time to teach our students about germs and about how they can take steps to protect themselves. Click to see a fun and child friendly activity you can quickly do in your classroom to help make invisible germs real for our students.
To begin our lesson, we watched a video from You Tube called Swine Flu Animation- Protect, Don't Infect. After watching we started a discussion about germs. I wanted to get an idea of what my students thought they were and what they really looked like. We used Kids Health as a quick resource to get some facts on germs. Another great resource you can use from Scholastic, is a Flu Prevention Tip Sheet.
Once my students had a good understanding on what germs were, we went outside for a little experiment. I have done this activity for several years now and it has always had the greatest impact on my young students. All you need is glitter.
First, I talked about sneezing. Then, I poured a bunch of glitter in my hand and I pretended to sneeze blowing the glitter all over the place. The kids usually are so shocked by this and get so excited that I have to redo it. Next, I explained how the glitter represents my germs. When I sneezed they went everywhere. The students look around to see how far they spread. It is very important to explain how real germs will travel even farther reaching all of the students standing around me. This is a very effective visual!
The last part of the experiment shows how easily germs spread through touch. Again, I poured a bunch of glitter into my hand. This time I turned to one student and I shook his hand. Of course the glitter got all over his hand. I asked him to turn to the next person and shake hands. The kids see that the next student now has glitter on their hands too. This continues until everyone has shaken hands and has some glitter on their hands. Again, I explain that the glitter represented my germs. I only shook hands with one person but all the kids in the class got my germs just through touching another person's hands! I ask them to think about all the things they touch on the playground and how many other kids touched the same things. It helps a lot to have them imagine every kid having different color glitter. What would the playground look like? What would our hands look like?
After these simple experiments, we discussed how touching our eyes, mouth, nose, and ears transfers the germs on our hands into our bodies and make us sick. We talked about how washing our hands is one of the best ways to protect ourselves from getting sick. Of course, after all of this the students are very aware of germs and are ready to scrub those germs off their little hands!