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Germs and Handwashing

Main Core Tie

Health Education - 1st Grade
Strand 6: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (HD) Standard 1.HD.1:

Time Frame

1 class periods of 30 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups


Stacey Chappell


Students will learn that germs cause illness and that handwashing is the best way to prevent illness. They will also learn proper handwashing steps. An experiment with potato slices shows them how germs grow on surfaces that they touch.


  1. Tennis ball (or piece of paper, pencil, book) to coat with disclosing powder.
  2. Disclosing powder (or chalk).
  3. UV light if using disclosing powder.
  4. 3 Ziplock bags.
  5. 3 potato slices.
  6. 6 sets of handwashing steps.

Background for Teachers

  • Germs cause illness.
  • Ways to stop the spread of germs (Kleenex, sneeze into sleeve, etc.)
  • Handwashing is the BEST way to stop spread of germs and illness.
  • 6 steps of handwashing: Wet hands, soap, wash, rinse, dry, turn off water with paper towel.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students should know that germs cause illness, that they should cover their mouths when coughing, sneezing, etc.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students should be able to put the 6 steps of handwashing in correct order.

Instructional Procedures

  1. Intro: "How many of you have had a cold/cough/flu?"
  2. "Do you know how you got sick?" "Maybe you caught it from your sister/classmate." You can get sick from others because germs go from them to you.
  3. Toss the tennis ball covered in disclosing powder to each student as they name a place where they think germs might be. Teacher should start.
  4. Germs are everywhere: Turn off lights and shine UV light on each child's hands to show disclosing powder. Discuss that you can't see germs, but they're everywhere.
  5. How can we prevent getting sick?: sneeze/cough into tissue, etc.
  6. The best way is by proper handwashing: When we wash our hands (after bathroom, before we eat),How long?
  7. Introduce and write on board the 6 steps of handwahing.
  8. Explain that from start to finish, it should take about as long as it takes you to sing your ABC's
  9. Model the 6 steps while singing your ABC's (if sink is available, use it).
  10. Have students recite the 6 steps.
  11. Divide students into 6 small groups
  12. Pass out handwashing steps. Instruct students to put the steps in order when you say go.
  13. There can be a prize for winning group if desired.
  14. Potato slice experiment: (Can be done here or 4-7 days before lesson, to be viewed here)
  15. Have one group handle a slice and put it in a ziploc bag. Label it "Hands".
  16. Have another group choose to rub the slice on toilet, floor, drinking fountain, handrail, etc. Put slice in bag and label bag with surface rubbed.
  17. Have third group put an untouched slice in bag and label it "Control"
  18. View slices in 4-7 days.

Assessment Plan

Assessment takes place when students recite handwashing steps and when they put the steps in order.

Created: 03/09/2005
Updated: 01/17/2020