Handwashing is so important, but it can also be tedious. Try these fun handwashing activities to teach and practice the handwashing steps.
With COVID-19, handwashing hygiene has never been more important. We all need to do our part in slowing the spread of the disease so our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.
But what do you when your children don’t want to wash their hands well? Try these fun handwashing activities with your children.
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Why Teach Handwashing?
Besides COVID-19, cold and flu season is coming. Handwashing is the single most important step in preventing the spread of germs.
When our children have good hand hygiene, they won’t miss school or other activities. Similarly, when their hands are clean, they will prevent others from becoming ill.
In my family, my children do not sleep well when they are sick. So this becomes a double-edged sword. It’s hard to get well when you’re not getting enough sleep.
So prevention is the key.
Plus, handwashing is also a foundational hygiene skill. If we want our children to become independent, we need to make sure the foundational give handwashing as much attention as toilet training.
Teach Children the Handwashing Steps
Use our free printable chart to give children a visual for the steps on handwashing.
Teach each of the five steps:
- Rub (for 20 seconds)
This hands-on teaching and practice is so essential.
To hold your child (and yourself) accountable, using a sticker chart or a smiley chart can be really helpful. Commit to practicing it together 15-20 times over the next several days and weeks and track the progress.
Another fun way to encourage practice is to celebrate with a “I washed my hands” sticker!
Handwashing Sensory Play
Sensory bins are always a hit. There is so much learning packed into little bins.
I found this fun handwashing activity over at over at How Wee Learn.
You can practice have your children wash pretend germs off of frozen hands in a sensory table or bin.
Removing the “germs” from their hands, to another set of “hands” can make the need for handwashing more explicit for your child.
- Fill a latex glove full of water. Allow a little extra room for it to expand.
- Freeze overnight
- In the morning color with washable markers.
- Place in water table or a large plastic bin.
- Invite your children to follow the handwashing steps to clean the hands.
- I showed the chart (from above) and said first wet the hands.
- Then I told the child to add soap and we followed the rest of the handwashing steps.
Printable Handwashing Book
Coloring is another fun handwashing activity! We made these printable hand washing books from the Handwashing Activity Printable Pack. I printed a copy for both of my older children (7 and 4 years old).
I could have assembled them myself but both my children benefit from practice with cutting. So they both cut the pages and we practiced ordering them.
I stapled the books. Then, my 7-year old read it aloud to my 4-year old.
While we colored we discussed the steps again.
Later, I hand my 7-year old read it to my husband and to our baby. I asked my 4-year old to read the pictures to me.
Making their own books and coloring is a fun way to provide a lot of ownership.
Handwashing Videos for Kids
Watching a video about handwashing is a win-win-win:
- It makes handwashing more explicit for children.
- They are motivating.
- The fun songs engage children to wash more thoroughly.
These are a few my children have enjoyed:
In this video, Elmo also models how to scrub hands and fingers thoroughly for children. It’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers (or anyone who loves Elmo!)
In this notoriously catchy video, Baby Shark and family teach the steps for handwashing. There is a cut out video that demonstrates a person following the steps as well.
This video is perfect for science-loving school-aged children. It breaks down why soap is so important and how it breaks apart the fatty coating of the COVID-19 cells.
This cartoon shows where germs reside and the consequences of not thoroughly washing.
Glitter Germs Activity
The Soccer Mom Blog shares how to use glitter for a fun handwashing activity.
We did this activity outside. You need to get glitter all over to show your child how germs spread. So choose a biodegradable, plant-based glitter so you don’t have to worry about destroying the environment.
- biodegradable glitter
- hand sanitizer (we tried lotion)
- In a small bowl, mix lotion or hand sanitizer with glitter.
- Rub a small amount onto your hands and show your children.
- Have them rub a small amount onto their hands.
- Comment on how the glitter is like germs and has just spread.
- Have your children just briefly rinse their hands in water and notice how much is still left.
- Then have your children follow the five hand washing steps and notice how much clear their hands are!
We really enjoyed this activity!
Doll Handwash Sensory Bin
Kristina over at Toddler Approved is my favorite kids’ activities blogger. If you don’t already follow her, check out her blog!
She has a fun hand washing sensory bin. This is a great alternative to the one shared above if you can’t find vinyl or latex gloves now.
- Barbies or other dolls
- Large bin
- Pump hand soap
- Scrub brush
- Fill a large bin with warm water.
- Add the doll, the pump soap, and a scrub brush.
- Remind your children of the five handwashing steps and encourage them to wash the dolls’ hands.
Cut apart the free printable into the five steps. Hide them around your living room or family room.
Challenge your children to find them and then put them in order.
Alternatively, you can ask them to find the steps in the correct order.
Recapping Fun Handwashing Activities
Here’s the summary for all you busy parents:
- Teach the handwashing steps explicitly with practice. Use stickers to celebrate!
- Create handwashing sensory play with frozen gloves. Draw germs on them to wash off.
- Complete the printable handwashing book.
- Watch handwashing videos.
- Mix glitter and lotion and rub them on your children’s hands. Pretend they are germs to wash off!
- Make a doll handwashing sensory bin.
- Cut apart the free printable handwashing chart and hide the steps around your home. Have your children hunt!
Even as an adult, handwashing can get tedious. So make it fun for your children to learn and practice. We are all in this together.