In the current climate with COVID-19 a part of our everyday life, teaching our children how to practice safe hygiene is more important than ever. National childcare group – Guardian Childcare & Education – has been conducting a range of easy experiments within their Centres so they can instil valuable hygiene habits in the children.
Guardian Childcare & Education has also set up new rules which minimise the spread of germs overall and enforce safe hygiene. When children arrive, they have their temperature checked and parents don’t enter the childcare centres because there are now designated drop off and pick up locations for the morning and afternoon.
To instill safe hygiene habits in the children, the centres have been conducting easy, hands-on learning experiments because this way the children can learn first-hand how to stop the spread of germs. These experiments create an opportunity to help turn a potentially scary conversation about health and illness, into a fun activity that children will learn valuable lessons from.
Soap and Pepper Experiment
The newly-opened Guardian centre in Coromandel Valley, South Australia, used this experiment to help their older preschool children (aged 4+) discover the powers of soap!
To start the experiment, black pepper (representing ‘germs’) is added to a bowl of water. When the children dip their fingers in the water, the ‘germs’ stick to them. Then, after dipping their fingers in soap, the ‘germs’ disperse from the children’s fingers and instead run to the edge of the water bowl.
As the Coromandel Valley Centre Manager, Diane Forrester says: “The value in this simple experiment is the fact the children get to see the ‘germs’ and they get a visual understanding of the importance of washing their hands with soap. Instead of germs being something that’s too small to see – they can suddenly conceptualise what a germ is by seeing how the pepper acts when they wash their hands.”
She adds this lesson was consolidated by more lessons with the children about how to wash their hands thoroughly: “The children were encouraged to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, equating to 20 seconds – the amount of time it takes to ensure your hands are almost completely clean from germs.”
“Before every meal, the children wash their hands, and practice their good hand-washing technique,” Forrester adds. “They then hold their hands behind their backs or with their palms together, ensuring not to touch anything, as they make their way to the table for eating. This way, their hands are kept clean before they eat and they learn safe hygiene.”
The Guardian Childcare & Education Centre in Munro Street, Brisbane, set up an experiment using glitter to demonstrate to the children the importance of thorough hand washing.
As Sue Wicks, the Centre Manager for Munro Street explained: “The children were encouraged to rub hand lotion all over their hands and wrists and then pop their hands in glitter. They were then asked to pick objects to show how easily the glitter transfers onto the objects as the ‘germs’.”
“The children were then asked to clean their hands using good hand-washing technique. This experiment cleverly shows them how important it is to wash their hands properly to get rid of all the nasty ‘glitter’ germs,” she adds.
“At Guardian, we teach the children safe hygiene so they clean their palms, in between their fingers, the back of their fingers, wrists, thumbs and fingertips before every meal and after they have been to toilet or involved in any activity that involves sharing, such as building blocks,” says Wicks.
Growing Germs Experiment
The Guardian Childcare & Education Centre at Freshwater in Sydney, conducted an experiment to show the effects of four different apple slices after leaving them for a week in individual enclosed containers. One apple was untouched, one was touched with unwashed hands, one was touched with hands only washed with water, and the last was touched with thoroughly washed hands, before placing them in their containers.
At the end of the week, the children excitedly checked the apples to see what germs had grown. As predicted, the apple which had been touched by thoroughly-washed hands was the cleanest, while the slice of apple touched by dirty hands was covered in the most bacteria, visually demonstrating how important it is to have clean hands – especially when touching food.
“Maintaining good hand hygiene is extremely important,” says Petra Wright, Centre Manager at Guardian Childcare & Education Freshwater. “Together with the children, we practice washing our hands carefully and thoroughly to ensure we are doing everything we can to help prevent the spread of germs. When the children saw the results of the apple experiment, they were shocked at the impact of their dirty hands!”
A range of these experiments showing how to achieve safe hygiene have been conducted in all of the Guardian Childcare & Education’s centres around the country. While the children at the centres are experiencing significant changes to their routines because of the new hygiene practices, they now understand the need for the new practices and understand a lot more about germs and why they need to wash their hands properly.
For more information on Guardian Childcare & Education’s world-class curriculum and to find a Centre near you, visit Guardian Childcare & Education.