Since February is Dental Health Month, and I am always astonished at how many children I see with poor dental habits, I created a dental health unit with lots of fun ideas for center activities, small groups, and whole-class instruction.
First, I ordered the free Colgate "Bright Smiles, Bright Futures" kit to introduce the unit. It came with a class set of take-home materials, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, storybooks, and information for parents. The kit also contained a big book, a two-sided poster, a teacher's guide, and an animated movie about Dr. Rabbit and Dr. Brushwell, which was totally engaging and a great way to open up the topic of good dental hygiene.
Next, I gathered the following materials:
Paper cutouts of a face with teeth
Large paper cutouts of teeth
Colored construction paper
A toothbrush made out of a fringed piece of paper glued onto the eraser end of a pencil
Plastic needles and colored thread
Multiple toothbrushes made out of fringed pieces of paper glued onto craft sticks
Bubblegum and Chiclets
These are the games and activities I made using the above materials, with the instructions for each:
Make an anchor chart of a tooth. As a class, talk about what it means to have healthy teeth. Write down the answers.
Write letters on the teeth, making some backwards. Then have a student "brush" (erase) the backwards letters.
Adorn some of the tooth cutouts with pictures of healthy foods, and some with pictures of unhealthy foods. Students apply "toothpaste" (glue) to the back of a "toothbrush" (craft stick), brush the top of a tooth that has unhealthy food on it, and then stick the toothbrush to the tooth.
Make pairs of vocabulary words on tooth cutouts for memory matching.
Write addition problems on craft stick toothbrushes, with the answers on the back for students to self-check.
Glue a piece of pink bubblegum (gums) and a row of white Chiclets (teeth) to a piece of paper. Students use dental floss to "floss" between each "tooth," counting as they do so. Monitor well so they don't take the gum off and chew it!
Poke two small holes in each tooth with a paper clip. With plastic needles and colored thread, students sew two rows of "braces" on the top and bottom teeth. Explain that braces help straighten out teeth.
Create goal lines on opposite sides of a table with pieces of dental floss. Using "toothbrushes" (craft sticks) as hockey sticks, and "teeth" (white buttons) as pucks, each player tries to score a goal by sweeping the puck with their sticks, trying to get it across the other player's line. One goal equals one point.
Make some paper beds with flip-up pillows. Underneath each pillow, draw a tooth and some coins with the denominations on them. Students add up the money from the tooth fairy.
Make a mobile to hang in the classroom. A large tooth goes at the top, with a toothbrush, toothpaste tube, floss container, and individual student's teeth hanging from it.