This lesson helps young people understand the reasons that we bathe. 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.
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.
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 are getting cleaned up on a regular basis, including:
- 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.
- Mental Health—Taking a bath or shower in the morning can be invigorating and help you wake up; in the evening it can be soothing and help you calm down.
- 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.
Ask the youth, why is it important for us to keep our bodies clean by taking 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 wash 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 doesn’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 through 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”.
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, there are good reasons to have a regular routine, and that it especially impacts others around us if we don’t keep our hands clean
Continuing the Conversation
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue the conversation about healthy washing habits.