Congratulations to the winners of our Early Childhood Winning Ideas Contest! Each of these entrants - teachers just like you - won $50 in Scholastic products for sharing their ideas. Thanks to everyone who submitted to the contest. And remember to check the latest contest topic for more chances to win!
This is the Way

by Alexandra Ziemann

We always make sure to talk in the morning time how good it is to wash our hands, cough into our sleeves and cover our sneezes.  We also like to make up silly sayings when someone sneezes such as "bless you that you didn’t sneeze your socks off!"  We also make sure to keep tissue boxes all around the room at student level so that they don’t have to get up and ask for a tissue, they are right there for them to use.

While we wash our hands we sing a silly song that goes like this: (sung to the tune of Mulberry Bush)
This is the way we wash our hands,
wash our hands, wash our hands.
This is the way we wash our hands
each and every time!
This is the way we keep them clean,
keep them clean, keep them clean.
This is the way we keep them
all day long.
This is the way we count to fifteen,
count to fifteen, count to fifteen.
This the way we count to fifteen
and now we know its time.

When we sing this whole song we know that we are washing our hands for the recommended fifteen seconds!

Lysol is Your Friend

by Katie Ensell

There is no way to totally kill every single germ and completely avoid sickness.
It never hurts to try.
During the first weeks of the cold months [usually the beginning of December] I use my read aloud time to teach germ-fighting skills to my kindergarten class.  We read books on healthy practices such as covering our coughs, washing our hands, and using tissues.  For science time, we experiment with different washing methods [water only, soap and water, Lysol wipes, etc.] on a 'dirty' table to see what the best way is to get the dirt and grime off.  This is a very concrete way for the kids to see what dirt really is.  Germs are a hard concept for them especially since they can't see them.  For math time, we find out how many boxes of tissues we might need or how many times in a week we wash our hands.  By making healthy living a part of our every day learning, the students learn good health habits and can then practice them in our room.  
The students' favorite part of the cold-and-flu season is helping wash off the tables.  They get small buckets with soap and water and use disposable sponges or paper towels to clean their work areas.  This is the most popular job in our classroom because the students rarely get to do this at home, so it is a new and exciting experience.  Once a week we use Lysol wipes, and from the grins they have, you'd think I was giving them a plate of cookies!
Make healthy choices a part of your everyday teachings and you'll find you have many less runny noses!

Germ Fighting

by Susan Hills 

To teach the children how to fight germs in our classroom we do a yearly lesson plan that includes lots of hands on projects. The best project by far is having the children play with flour and than without washing their hands go about their day as usual. This gives the children a concrete experience as to how everything they touch leaves the germs behind. At the end of our free play we walk around the classroom to see just how many germs have spread by looking at all the flour in the room. This gives the children a better understanding as to how easily our germs are spread.

We also read lots of books on germs and teach the children to cough and sneeze in by using their arms rather than their hands. We also fight germs by having the children help clean all our toys and surfaces at the end of the day. Most young children love to clean. We also have had the children put lotion on their hands and than cover their hands with glitter. We than tell them to wash their hands and give them a paper towel to see how the glitter sticks to the paper towel. This is among other ways we teach young children about germs. They are able to grasp the concept and learn to stay healthy and germ free throughout the day.

Germy Potato

by Jennifer Godin

As a science experiment, have the children compare a "germy potato" to a "clean potato". To do this, after you wash your hands, cut a potato in half and place one half in a ziploc bag without touching it to anything else. Then, give the children the other half of the potato... pass it around, touch it to surfaces in the classroom, etc. Next, put that potato in a ziploc bag. Put these in the science center, and observe them throughout the next few days. Have children predict what will happen, and pay attention to what actually does happen. (The germy potato will be very colorful and disgusting because of all the germs spreading... and the "clean potato" should remain relatively the same as it started.) It's a good visual to teach children WHY we have to wash our hands so often!

Germ Fighting

by Alice Henderson

Teaching germ fighting is essential, especially in Kindergarten!  In my classroom, we begin the school year with the "germy" discussion which includes introducing several books with lessons. My lessons include topics: what are germs what do germs do, and the reasons it is important to cover germs up, block them from spreading, and wash them away.  My top three germ-fighting book lessons are:
1.  Germs Make Me Sick by Melvin Berger
2. Wash Your Hands by Tony Ross
2. Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick