Keeping Clean When You’re A Preteen

Lesson Overview

Most kids know by age 8 or 9 that changes will start happening to their bodies as they get closer to being teenagers and then young adults. What a lot don’t know, however, is that there are also some changes they’ll need to make in how they care for themselves.

Parents, teachers, and other care givers spend quite a bit of time and energy helping kids learn basic hygiene when they are very young: how to wash hands and for how long, brushing teeth, coughing or sneezing into the elbow, and so on. This kind of teaching and coaching is a lot less common, though no less important, for older youth, especially as their bodies begin to change.


When you go through puberty, a lot of physical changes happen. These changes mean that you will have to learn different ways to care for yourself.

Here are some common changes that affect both boys and girls.

  1. Body odor: There are certain sweat glands in your body that only become active once you’ve entered puberty. They produce oils that are different from the sweat you’re used to and can cause different smells, skin irritations and other potential concerns. Using some kind of deodorant or antiperspirant to deal with increase in body odor with help.
  2. Skin and Hair: More oils along with hormones can mean acne and other skin irritation. Acne is typically not caused by poor hygiene, but good hygiene can definitely help keep it in check. You may start to grow more hair, sometimes in places you don’t want it like armpits and pubic areas! Shaving and keeping body hair clean is important.
  3. Breath: Bad breath happens to people of all ages but it can be especially problematic if you are already self-conscious about your changing body. Brushing and flossing teeth twice each day can help keep bad breath in check.
  4. Pubic area: Changes happen to both boys and girls that can affect hygiene. Girls may experience vaginal discharge and will eventually begin menstruating (get their periods). Uncircumcised boys’ foreskins will retract. All boys will start experiencing wet dreams and more frequent erections. Make sure to bathe each day and have feminine hygiene products on hand.

Activity: Ice breaker – Growing Up

  1. Ask the students to mill around to music until you turn it off. When you stop it they should pair up with one other person. If there is an uneven number of students it’s OK to have groups of three.
  2. Have each person tell his or her partner what they wanted to be when they grew up when they were little. Give them a few minutes to talk about this.
  3. Repeat this several time and have them choose a different partner each time.
  4. After the ice breaker, convene the group and ask for a few examples of things people said. There will probably be some funny ones and some things that have changed as the students have matured.
  5. Introduce the topic by telling them that you are going to talk about a particular part of growing up and maturing: puberty.


  1. Write the word PUBERTY on a flip chart. Ask the students to tell you what other words come to mind when they hear it. Write all of these words and phrases on the flip chart. Summarize and clarify by telling them what puberty is:
    • According to the NIH (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) puberty is the time in life when a boy or girl becomes sexually mature. It is a process that usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.
    • A lot of physical changes happen during this time and affects boys and girls differently. Those changes mean that boys and girls will have to learn different ways to care for themselves.
  2.  Draw a stick figure or an outline of a body on a pieces of flip chart paper. Explain that you’re going to write and talk about different aspects of self-care using the image as a guide.
    • If you’re comfortable doing so, you can invite the students to help you by writing words or drawing images on the paper that connect to what you’re talking about.
    • Point out that different families have different norms about hygiene and that it’s important to be respectful of those differences.
    • There aren’t right or wrong answers to the topics you’re covering, but there is information that’s important for teens and preteens to know.
  3. Start with the head and face: Ask the students what changes might happen on their heads or faces during puberty. They will likely mention facial hair, acne, and maybe hair in general. You can draw all these things on the image, or write keywords nearby on the paper. This can be your opening to talk about:
    • Shaving: During puberty hair will being growing in new places, including armpits, pubic areas and the face.
      • People make different choices about shaving. In some cultures, shaving may be a standard practice, in others, shaving may be a more personal decision. It’s a good idea to ask someone with experience for guidance in what kind products to use when shaving, such as razors, shaving cream, and after care creams or lotions.
      • Girls may choose to begin shaving their legs, armpits and bikini area.
      • Also mention the myth that once a person starts shaving the hair in that area will grow back thicker and darker. That isn’t true. The stubble may at first be more noticeable because it’s prickly, but it will eventually go back to being how it was before shaving.
    • Acne: Most teens have some acne at some point during their teen years. This is caused mostly by an increase in certain oils.
      • Acne is typically not caused by poor hygiene, but there are things you can do that can help minimize the impact: Wash your face in the morning and at night with a gentle cleanser. Harsh soaps and scrubbing too hard can irritate the skin and make pimples worse.
      • Over-the-counter acne treatments can also be effective in moderation. If the acne is severe or is causing emotional distress, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
    • Hair: The same oils that causes acne may make your hair seem extra oily. Washing every day with a mild cleanser may help. Try not to scrub too hard or rub with a rough towel when drying. All of this can damage your hair and won’t help the problem you’re trying to solve.
    • Breath: Bad breath happens to people of all ages but it can be especially problematic if you are already self-conscious about your changing body. Brushing and flossing teeth twice each day can help keep bad breath in check.
  4. Then move to the mid-section of the body. Ask the students what changes might happen around their mid-section during puberty. They will likely mention body odor, hair growth or breast development, for girls. You can draw all these things on the image, or write keywords nearby on the paper. This can be your opening to talk about:
    • Deodorant: Armpits are an area that may need attention. Some teens, mostly girls, may choose to shave. You may want to start using some kind of deodorant or antiperspirant to deal with increase in body odor.
    • Pubic area/genitals: In general, it’s important to maintain good daily cleaning routines and to always wear clean underwear and avoid other tight fitting clothes (such as compression shorts) to prevent body odor as well as skin irritation, and that special products such as douches are unnecessary
      • Boys: If they are uncircumcised, they will need to start cleaning their penises. As he grows, the foreskin will loosen on its own. This can take three or more years. The foreskin can be pulled back so the penis can be cleaned properly.
      • Girls: They will get their periods at that average age of 12 and will need to start using tampons or pads. Girls don’t need to use special products such as douches.
      • Both: Hair will start to grow in the pubic area.
  5. Lastly, talk about the hands and feet. Ask the students what changes might happen with their hands and feet during puberty. They will likely mention bad smells. You can draw all these things on the image, or write keywords nearby on the paper. This can be your opening to talk about:
    • Hands and feet: They may start to notice that their palms are sweaty and/or their feet are sweaty and smell bad (or their shoes do). This is caused by changes and increases in the kinds of oils their bodies are producing.
    • Encourage students to wash and dry their hands regularly and wash their feet when they shower or bathe.
    • Socks should be changed regularly, at least every day, and it’s good to let feet air out when you can.
    • Pay attention to whether shoes are getting smelly. If so, wash them if you can, or consider buying odor repelling inserts.


Thank the students for their participation in a sensitive conversation. Let them know that puberty can be intimidating but that everyone goes through it and if they have questions or are having a hard time they should be sure to talk to you or another adult they trust.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue discussing the changes that come with puberty at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Acne – Self care

Zits at my age? Why?

Skin: Caring for the Largest Organ

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the basic structure, function, and care of skin. Youth will be introduced to the topic with an online interactive quiz. They will read about the skin, including tips for its care, then get creative by designing products and giving persuasive presentations.


This lesson focuses on three aspects of skin: its basic structure, the jobs it does for our bodies and how to care for it. You can introduce the topic by having young people take the Online Quiz either individually or as a larger group. Discuss the answers. Were there any answers that surprised you?

Give each of the young people a copy of the Skin Handout. Review the diagram and headings. If time permits, youth may want to read this before starting the activity below.


  1. In small groups, invent new skin-care products and try to “sell” them to the rest of the class. The youth can do this as a written advertisement (preferably with some art…like a magazine ad), a pretend radio ad (spoken with no actions) or a pretend video/television ad (incorporating actions). Be sure to include:
    • a description of your product (a cream, a cleanser, or something less common…be creative!)
    • the problem it solves
    • why people should buy it.
  2. Young people do skits or presentations for others about skin health and skin care. Tell them the goal is be persuasive…to convince their peers to do their best to keep their skin healthy. If they have access to the Internet you can allow them to look up additional information.


Skin health and skin care will always be an important part of our lives. Encourage young people to take the handout and newsletter home as references they can keep and perhaps share with other family members.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing skin health at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Listen Hear! All About the Ear

Lesson Overview

This lesson will introduce young people to the structure of their ears and how they work through a diagram and by building a model ear drum. The youth will play a listening game to learn more about their hearing and how important it is to keep their ears healthy.


Describe the three basic parts of the ear, using the Your Ears Handout as a visual guide (see What You Need). Discuss the care of each part.

The Parts of Your Ear

Outer ear: This is the part you can see. The outer ear is where sounds are collected and moved along the ear canal toward the middle ear. The middle ear is separated from the outer ear by the eardrum.

Middle ear: Vibrations from the eardrum travel through the little bones of the middle ear (ossicles) and are sent to the inner ear. The space in the middle ear is filled with air.

Inner ear: This is where the vibrations from the middle ear create nerve signals. The nerve signals send the messages to your brain that become the sounds you hear.

How to Care for the Parts of Your Ear

Outer ear: This is the only part you should clean.You can wash behind your ears and around the outside. Sometimes shampoo or soap can get stuck behind them so rinse well!

Whatever you do, don’t stick anything larger than your elbow into your ear. Even though earwax can seem kind of icky, it is normal and usually healthy. It should only be cleaned out if your doctor says it’s OK.

If you have pierced ears, be sure to keep them clean with a sterile solution or they can become infected.

Middle ear: This part can become infected. If this happens, your doctor can prescribe a medicine (such as an antibiotic) to help treat the problem.

You should never stick anything in your ear canal because the eardrum can be punctured or torn.

Inner ear: The part can also become infected and would need treatment by your doctor.

Activity: Make a model eardrum

  1. Give each young person or small group the following supplies:
    • a plastic cup. This represents the ear canal.
    • a piece of plastic wrap large enough to stretch over the lid of the cup and stay there securely. This represents the eardrum.
    • a rubber band, if using rubber bands to hold the plastic wrap in place.
  2. Give each young person or small group about 10 grains of rice or salt. This is just a visual aid to help them see what is happening to the “eardrum” (plastic wrap) when exposed to loud noises.

  3. Tell the youth to stretch the plastic wrap tightly over the cup, secure it, and place the grains of rice or salt on top. They now have model eardrums.

  4. Have the young people experiment with noisemakers to see if they can get their model eardrums to vibrate. They will know if it is working because the rice or salt will bounce around. This is a simulation of what happens when sound waves reach your eardrums. They vibrate, causing other parts of your ears to vibrate, sending signals to your brain that are processed as sounds.

  5. After a while ask for volunteers willing to make small holes in their model eardrums. Experiment with that for a while. Notice what happens. Compare those with tears to those still intact. Also compare different size tears.

  6. Discuss the experiment: What did you notice about what happened when we exposed our “eardrums” to different sounds? What happens if we poke a hole or make a tear in one of them? Does it work as well? (No, it does not; it doesn’t vibrate as much. Also, things like the grains of rice or salt can get through.) Try to imagine a hole or a tear in your own eardrum. What do you think would happen to your hearing? What about the health of your ear? (You could have temporary hearing loss or, if the tear didn’t heal, permanent hearing loss. Also, bacteria and other contaminants could get in and lead to infection.) It’s important to remember to never stick anything in your ear to clean it or for any other reason. Doctors are the only people who should put anything in your ears…they know how to do it and can do it without damage.

Activity: What’s that you say?

  1. Form a circle with one person blindfolded in the middle (can be done seated or standing).
  2. Explain that you are going to silently point to people around the circle and that when you point at someone, he or she is to say the name of the person blindfolded in the middle.
  3. The blindfolded person must then try to point in the direction of the voice and identify the name of the person who said his name.
  4. Try this experiment with the blindfolded person using both ears and then again with one hand over one of them to block the sound.
  5. Let any young person who wishes to take a turn in the middle.

After the activity, ask the young people to reflect with the following questions:

  • What is it like to try to identify where and from whom the sound is coming?
  • Do some people have a harder time with this than others? Why do you think that is?
  • Is it easier with one ear? Both ears? (Some people have a dominant ear.)


Conclude the lesson with the following discussion questions.

  • How important is it that we take good care of our ears? Why? (We function best when they are both working. They are sensitive and can be damaged.)

  • Besides keeping them clean, what can we do to protect our ears? (Wear a helmet when riding a bike or board or playing contact sports. Avoid loud noises, especially over long periods of time such as a rock concert. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to shout to hear or be heard it’s too loud. Wear earplugs if doing loud work or being in loud environments.)

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing ear health and safety at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

What’s that you say?

Additional Instructor Resources

Bad Breath: What to Do About It

Lesson Overview

This lesson will help young people understand some of the most common causes of bad breath, how to test if they have bad breath, and what they can do about it.  The main activity will be 10 quiz questions that can be delivered on the interactive whiteboard, on a printed activity sheet, or by orally quizzing the class. The lesson concludes with 4 Tips for Fresh Breath and a group discussion.


Ask the youth if they have experienced bad breath in the past.  How did they know their breath was bad? Can you think of some reasons your breath might not smell good?

Almost everyone has bad breath (also known as halitosis) once in a while. It can be embarrassing, but usually not a problem beyond that. Common causes are:

  • bacteria from food stuck to or caught in your teeth
  • a dry mouth
  • eating certain foods with strong odors or odor producing qualities
  • taking certain kinds of medicines
  • chewing or smoking tobacco
  • respiratory illness

In some cases, a more serious health-related issue could be causing bad breath. It’s important to talk to a doctor or dentist if it becomes a chronic (long-lasting) problem.

Share with the youth that everyone has bad breath sometimes, but there are some things they can do to help prevent it and improve their breath throughout the day.

Activity: Learn how to test your breath

Ask the young people, “How do you know if you have bad breath?” Some may answer that you can breathe into your hand and then smell the air.

You can respond that a popular method of testing for bad breath doesn’t actually work very well. A lot of people think that if you cup your hand over your month and nose and breathe into it you can tell if your breath smells bad. But air is released differently when you do that versus when you are face-to-face with someone, interacting with and talking to them.

A better way to test is to wash your hand, and then lick the back of it with the farthest back part of your tongue you can manage. Then let it dry for 10 seconds and smell it. If you discover that it does smell bad there are a number of things you can do to improve it.

Activity: Interactive quiz

The quiz questions are on the  Bad Breath Quiz Activity Sheet.

Ask each of the 10 questions and wait for young people to answer. You can use the interactive whiteboard lesson files, if the software and a projector is available (see What You Need). Once the answers are in, give them the correct answer and have a discussion. This can also be done orally with hand raising for answers or writing them on a board.


Conclude the lesson with these 4 tips and a discussion question.

Tips for fresh breath

  1. Brush your teeth and your tongue…as far back as you can. Removing bacteria is one of the best ways to freshen up. A lot of them can live on your tongue, something you don’t always think about when brushing.
  2. Floss your teeth. This also removes food particles and bacteria.
  3. If you can’t brush or floss right away, use mouthwash or chew gum until you are able to clean your mouth.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Water helps rinse away bacteria. Staying hydrated also helps your digestive system run smoothly which can also prevent bad breath.


Share the following statement with the youth and ask if they agree or disagree: if someone you care about has bad breath you should politely say something about it. (There is no right answer to this, but there will likely be a lot of ideas and opinions.)

Continuing the Conversation 

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which includes tips for fresh breath, so that families can continue the discussion at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Get brushing: February is oral care month!

Splash! Why Is It Important To Bathe?

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand why we need to bathe on a regular basis—with an emphasis on bathing several times a week. The youth will take part in a demonstration that helps them visualize how germs are spread from person to person. Finally, they will practice proper hand-washing with soap.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following notes about cleanliness. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions about why it is important to bathe.

How often a person should take a bath or shower depends somewhat on individual preference and family and cultural norms. But there are several reasons that it’s important to make sure kids know why we bathe, including:

  1. Physical Health—Regular baths or showers with a mild soap, followed by drying with a clean towel, help wash away germs and prevent illness, infection, and other problems.
  2. Mental Health—Taking a bath or shower in the morning can be invigorating and help you wake up. If you prefer bathing in the evening, it can be soothing and help you calm down.
  3. Social Health—Bodies have smells…lots of them. The less often we clean ourselves the more likely we are to develop noticeable odors. Sometimes these can turn people off. The appearance of not being clean can also cause us to feel self-conscious and insecure. Most people don’t need a lot of deodorant, special creams, or perfumes to look, feel, and smell clean as long as they are following a regular cleaning routine.


Begin by asking the youth: “why is it important for us to regularly take baths or showers?” Most young people will be able to answer this but many children do try to avoid the bath at some point in their lives, so reinforcing the concept is a good idea. Use the information from the Instructor Notes above as appropriate.

Activity: Looking for Germs

Explain to the youth that one very important reason to take a bath or shower is to wash away germs that can make us sick. Tell them they are going to demonstrate how easy it is to pass germs around.

  • Explain that germs are a lot like glitter in that they get on everything we touch or that touches us. That’s why it’s so important to bathe ourselves at the end of a day or a time we’ve been very active or gotten dirty.
  • Give each young person a small amount of petroleum jelly to rub on their hands.
  • Then sprinkle their hands with a bit of glitter. Have them shake hands with one another, and touch pieces of paper or other objects that can get a little bit glittery. (Caution…this can get MESSY!)
  • Once the youth have experienced how easy it is to spread germs (by touching other objects), instruct them to wash their hands thoroughly to remove all glitter.
  • To assure proper hand-washing, we need to rub all surfaces of our hands using soap and clean running water to make a lather. Rub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Once everyone has had a chance to wash their hands, ask the youth about their experience and note that a quick rinse didn’t remove glitter or germs.

Activity: Hand Washing

  • Teach young people a song to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” The words are, “This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands; this is the way we wash our hands, to make sure they get clean.”
  • Explain that this song can help you make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Using a clock or timer, see how long it takes you to sing the song. For example, if it takes 10 seconds to sing the verse, young people can sing it twice so that they know that they have washed their hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Have the young people each practice washing their hands while singing the song.
  • If time permits, ask for suggestions of other verses and mime them as a class. They might suggest, for example, “This is the way we wash our hair.”

How Often Should You Take a Bath?

One common question can be how often children should bathe or shower. While some resources will advocate the importance of bathing daily, we advocate a routine of bathing several times a week.


At the end of the session, you can reiterate that while bathing and washing are personal things and everyone gets to make their own choices about them—including whether to shower or take baths and how often—there are good reasons to have a regular routine. You can also emphasize that it especially impacts others around us if we don’t keep our hands clean. Check out our Starter Kit program and find all of your classroom lessons for kids in one place.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue the conversation about healthy washing habits.

Hand-Washing: A Weapon Against Germs!

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the importance of hand-washing by showing them firsthand how everyday germs start out invisible, but when left unattended grow into something very unappealing. They will review proper hand-washing techniques.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about hand-washing. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.

Hand-washing is easy to do. It’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of germs in all settings—from your home and workplace to schools and more. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another.

When should we wash our hands? You should always wash your hands:

  • before, during, and after preparing food
  • before and after eating food
  • before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • after using the toilet
  • after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • after touching an animal
  • after touching garbage
  • any time they feel or look dirty.

It seems simple and obvious that it’s important, but according to the American Society of Microbiology, 96 percent of people say that they wash their hands after using a public restroom, but during observations conducted as part of a study, only 93 percent of females and 77 percent of males actually do.


Fifty percent of young people in middle and high school wash their hands, and of these, only 33 percent of females and eight percent of males use soap. That makes it even more important to wash hands since so many of the same people are touching door handles, tabletops, computer keyboards and so many other things every day. 

  1. Show the video Wash Your Hands by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The 30 seconds long.)
  2. Review the steps covered in the video and the simple directions below for proper hand-washing.
    1. Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold). Apply soap.
    2. Rub your hands together to make a lather. Scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    3. Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
    5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towel. You can also let your hands air dry.
  3. If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol.
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they do not remove soil and other substances and do not eliminate all types of germs.
    • Also, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not good at removing elements of food for those who suffer from food allergies.  A child or adult with a severe food allergy could have a reaction if someone else near them has not washed their hands with soap and water and comes in contact with that person.
  4. Remind young people that good hand-washing is one sure way to keep you and others in good health!

Activity: A Slice with Germs

  1. Ask young people to touch their faces, hair, desk or other object to get their hands dirty.
  2. Give each young person a slice (whole or half) of preservative-free, fresh bakery bread and tell them to touch it all over, keeping it flat.
  3. Have young people place the slice of bread in bag with two small drops of water. Seal the bag shut.
  4. Label the bag with the young person’s name and date.
  5. Put all the bread slices in a brown grocery bag. Include one piece of bread in a bag that was untouched.
  6. Seal the grocery bag shut. Place in warm spot.
  7. Each day, have the youth open the brown grocery bag and observe the bread for any changes. Typically it takes about five days to two weeks for good mold growth.
  8. Explain to the youth that the mold is from the germs they had on their hands. Even though we can’t see these germs, they are there. These germs can spread easily and cause us to become sick.
  9. Hand-washing is the simple most effective way to reduce the number of germs on our hands!


Remind young people that hand-washing is the simple and effective way to reduce the number of germs on our hands. Picture the mold your germs grew on the bread to remember how important it is to wash your hands throughout the day!

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing good hand-washing habits at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Practicing good hand-washing techniques will help keep germs away

Additional Instructor Resources

Infection Prevention: Hand Washing video

Smile Bright! Tooth Care

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand why it is important to brush and floss their teeth. The youth will observe effects of corrosive liquids on eggshells as a demonstration of how harsh materials affect tooth enamel.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about dental care for children. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.

There are many more reasons to keep your teeth clean than just having a nice smile, though that’s a good one too! Tooth decay (also known as cavities or dental caries) affects children in the United States more than any other chronic (long-lasting) infectious disease. If not prevented or properly treated, it can cause infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

The combination of dental sealants and fluoride has the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school-age children, but good habits are also still a part of the equation.

Brushing your teeth twice every day keeps your teeth—and your gums—clean and healthy. Even if you don’t have permanent teeth yet, you still need to brush. If you don’t brush, the permanent teeth growing underneath can be damaged by the tooth decay that can be growing on the surface.

And you need to brush permanent teeth every day because that’s the best way to keep them healthy. Those teeth need to last your whole life! Healthy teeth are one sign of good health.


Use hard-boiled eggs to demonstrate the impact of different substances on teeth.

  1. Explain to young people that eggshells are similar to the enamel (hard surface) on our teeth and just like eggshells, our teeth can be damaged if we don’t keep them clean and healthy.
  2. Fill one cup with soda (cola or other carbonated sugar beverage) and place an egg it.
  3. Fill one cup with vinegar and place an egg in it.
  4. Fill one cup with water and place an egg in it.
  5. Explain to young people that everyday for several days they should check on the eggs to see what’s happening with them.
  6. After several days (3 to 5) remove the eggs from the liquid. Ask the youth to describe what they notice. The youth will see that the egg in the soda is stained, the egg in the vinegar is soft and pitted, and the egg in the water is fairly intact. Explain how cola, vinegar or other substances can cause damage to our teeth just like it did to the egg shell. Brushing and flossing and drinking plenty of water help to keep our teeth clean and healthy.
  7. Ask the young people what they think about the experiment, and whether there is anything they’ll change about how they treat their teeth now that they’ve done the experiment.


Remind young people that taking care of their teeth is an important part of living a healthy life. Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing dental health at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Get brushing: February is oral care month!

Additional Instructor Resources

Healthy Me Checklist

Wash Hands for Health!

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the importance of hand-washing. Youth will learn how to wash their hands and color a worksheet with the  proper hand-washing steps.


Germs are everywhere, but we can take action to reduce them and lower our chances of getting sick! Washing your hands is the easiest way to reduce the risk of spreading germs that cause infections. Everyone can benefit from learning good hand-washing techniques. You should wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, and before eating.

If you cannot get to a sink, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Hands get more germs on them than other parts of your body.

When you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the germs can get inside your body and can make you sick. And when you have germs on your hands, you can spread the germs to other people and make them sick too.

Germs on your hands can also get on food you eat and can make you sick. That’s why it’s important to wash your hands before helping with any food preparation and before meals or snacks.

To help stop the spread of germs you should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Put the used tissue in the waste basket and go wash your hands.


We know that germs can make us sick. But where are germs and how do they make us sick? What can we do to stop germs from making us sick? Wash our hands!

Today we’re going to learn why we need to wash our hands and how to wash germs away the right way.

Engage the youth in a discussion about the right steps to good hand-washing. Refer them to the “Simple Steps for Squeaky Clean Hands” handout. Read through steps one through six and show good hand-washing if a sink is available. The youth can color the worksheet as well.

Ask young people, how long should we wash our hands to be sure to get the germs off?

You should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. And be sure to wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold)… and use soap!

Depending on the age of the youth, you might want to post hand-washing tips near the sink in the bathroom.


Conclude the lesson by handing out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue developing healthy hand-washing habits at home.

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Practicing good hand-washing techniques will help keep germs away