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Use Giant Microbes to Teach Hand Washing to Children

Updated on August 15, 2013

Giant Germ Toys Can Inspire Good Hand Hygiene in Kids

Teaching children about the importance of hand washing for preventing colds can be challenging, when you are trying to talk about those nasty, disgusting, but very invisible germs.

Finding ways to make those invisible germs 'visible' can help in teaching children about germs and good hand hygiene.

One of the ways to help children see their germs is with fun books, toys and germ kits. These silly germ toys are one of many cute and entertaining way to make teaching children about good hand washing techniques a lot more fun. I discovered them researching information for my lens on "Teaching Children About Germs" and have a common cold virus toy of my own.

In addition to books and germ-inspired stuffed toys handwashing or glo germ kits help make it easier for children to visualize the germs and better understand the reasons behind keeping their hands clean. Using silly books, toys and germ kit are fun ways to make normally invisible germs 'visible' and help teach children about illness-causing microbes. I include five of the most common disease causing microbes that have been turned into toys (Rhinovirus, Orthomyxovirus, Bordetella pertussis, Shigella dysenteriae and Escherichia coli in case you want to add them as more visual aids.

This lens was inspired by the IMMINENT Challenge for August 5th, to create a lens about something that is teeny tiny! I couldn't think of much that was teeny tinier than a common cold virus or the rhinovirus which is 30 nanometers or 309 meters in size. (To compare a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick)

Common Cold Virus (Rhinovirus) plush toy available on Amazon

Nearly 22 million school days are lost each year due to colds alone.

Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses.

— CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The Human Rhinovirus (Common Cold)

Image by Robin S.
Image by Robin S.

The Molecular surface of the capsid of human rhinovirus 16, one of causes of the common cold by Robin S.

The rhinovirus is one of the smallest viruses with a diameter of 30 nanometers.*

Other viruses like smallpox are 10 times lager at 300 nanometers.

* One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter or 109

Used Under a Creative Commons License

Understanding the Size of the Nanoscale

Find out more about just how small a nano is at the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative.

Educational Handwashing Kit

This fun and entertaining Handwashing kit makes it easy for teachers, parents, daycare providers and program leaders to teach children about the importance of keeping hands clean.

If I was still teaching about germs in kids classroom's this is the kit I would want to be using.


Giantmicrobes(R) Handwashing Kit
Giantmicrobes(R) Handwashing Kit

This kit includes germ detection gel and powder, a UV light key chain to visualize the 'germs' and an activity book.

Also includes stickers, a Sniffles Mirror Cling and a Common Cold clip on Key Chain.

 

Each year, children loose nearly 22 million school days from the common cold virus.

Frequent handwashing decreases the spread of the virus.

— CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Using Fun Tools to Teach Children about Hand Washing

Teaching children about hand washing helps them to stay healthier, which ultimately ensures that everyone else in the house will be healthier too.

When my daughters were much younger, I went into their classrooms and attended club meetings with fun books and the Glo Germ Kit. It was a fun way to help the kids 'see' the invisible germs and perhaps understand why they need to be washing their hands.

The Handwashing Kit below is very reminiscent of the Glo Germ Kit using germ detecting gels and a UV light, but they also include products that feature Sniffles their adorable larger than life cold virus germ as a fun way to educate children.

This soap dispenser with the rhinovirus is an adorable way to remember to wash your hands. I knew when I saw one, I'd have to get one for us.

Common Cold Soap Dispenser available on Amazon

The Importance of Hand Washing Video

ScienceFx shows the importance of hand washing using Glo Germ powder on a little stuffed animal.

I could easily see using one of these stuffed germs as the stuffed toy that gets tossed around the classroom as a demonstration in spreading germs.

Wash Your Hands

A Helpful Education Poster on Handwashing available on Amazon.

Wash Your Hands Before...

There are certain times when you need to make sure to wash your hand before doing something. These include:

  1. Before, during, and after preparing food
  2. Before eating food
  3. Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  4. Before and after treating a cut or wound


    Information from CDC's Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives

Wash Your Hands After...

There are certain times when you need to make sure to wash your hand after doing something. These include:

  1. After using the toilet
  2. After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  3. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  4. After preparing food
  5. After caring for someone who is sick
  6. After treating a cut or wound
  7. After touching an animal or animal waste
  8. After handling pet food or pet treats
  9. After touching garbage


    Information from CDC's Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives

Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

— CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Always Wash Your Hands - Video

This cute plush toy, the cough, Bordetella pertussis helps make the point to wash your hands.

Educational Fact Sheet on Hand Washing with Sniffles

Sniffles is a cartoon version of the cold virus that can be used for teaching hand washing.

Vote on the Giant-Sized Germs

What do you think about these Giant Microbes?

See results

Common Cold (Rhinovirus)

Common Cold (Rhinovirus) Toys on Amazon

The Common Cold toy is one of my favorite. My daughters both want one of the key chains to carry with their backpacks for school.

GiantMicrobes - GIGANTIC Microbes - Common Cold - -
GiantMicrobes - GIGANTIC Microbes - Common Cold - -

A gigantic version of the rhinovirus, common cold.

 
Giant Microbes Common Cold Rhinovirus Mini Key Chain, 2-3"
Giant Microbes Common Cold Rhinovirus Mini Key Chain, 2-3"

A clip on version of the common cold virus.

 

Learn about the Common Cold or Rhinovirus

The Flu (Orthomyxovirus)

Giant Microbes Flu (Orthomyxovirus) Petri Dish
Giant Microbes Flu (Orthomyxovirus) Petri Dish

This version of the flu toy comes with it's own petri dish where the virus is hiding.

 

Cough (Bordetella pertussis)

Cough (Bordetella pertussis) Toy on Amazon

Giant Microbes Cough Bordetella Pertussis Petri Dish
Giant Microbes Cough Bordetella Pertussis Petri Dish

This cough toy comes with a petri dish.

 

Stomach Ache (Shigella dysenteriae)

Stomach Ache (Shigella) on Amazon

Giant Microbes Stomach Ache Shigella Dysenteriae Petri Dish
Giant Microbes Stomach Ache Shigella Dysenteriae Petri Dish

A regular sized version of the stomach ache causing bacteria.

 
Giant Microbes 5"-7" Plush Stomach Ache Microbe
Giant Microbes 5"-7" Plush Stomach Ache Microbe

This shigella toy comes with a petri dish.

 

E. Coli (Escherichia coli)

E. Coli Toys on Amazon

Giant Microbes E. coli (Escherichia coli) Plush Toy
Giant Microbes E. coli (Escherichia coli) Plush Toy

A regular-sized toy version of E.coli.

 
Giant Microbes E. coli (Escherichia coli) Petri Dish
Giant Microbes E. coli (Escherichia coli) Petri Dish

This E. coli toy comes with it's own petri dish.

 

So Many Germs...

Tiny Microbes turned into Plush Toys

Instructional Hand Washing Poster on Amazon

Wash Your Hands 18" x 24" Plain Paper Poster - Step-by-Step Hand Washing Instructions for Children.
Wash Your Hands 18" x 24" Plain Paper Poster - Step-by-Step Hand Washing Instructions for Children.

This hand has animated sponges doing all of the scrubbing.

A fun reminder to wash hands.

 

More on Giant Germ Making Company

GIANT microbes creates stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes, only a million times actual size!

Their products make for educational, humorous and fun gift idea for teachers, nurses, doctors and those training to be health care providers: college students, medical students, nursing students and science students.

Included on the "Things That Are Tiny" Highlight Reel

This Giant Microbes Lens was included on the IMMINENT Highlight Reel for the Tiny Quest.

What do you think about these science-oriented educational toys?

Comment on the Giant-sized Microbes Toys

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    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @DLeighAlexander: I think these giant microbes would work really well in the classroom for teaching about germs.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 4 years ago

      They are cute tools to help children remember. It is so very important to wash hands regularly, nasty things like to hide underneath the fingernails especially.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @TapIn2U: I think these giant microbes will make it a lot easier to teach kids the importance of hand washing.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 4 years ago

      Great idea on using giant microbes in teaching children so that they will learn and understand more the importance of it. Sundae ;-)

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @lesliesinclair: I think they are really cute. Fun way to educate about germs. Probably would have made learning microbiology and infectious diseases more fun.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @LiteraryMind: They tend to be very popular gifts for college students who are going into or are in the health professions. Hope they are good adult hand washers.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great idea. They should also make these for all the adults who don't wash their hands.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Smart, smart, smart designers of these very useful toys.

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 4 years ago from Northern California

      @Coffee-Break: I think many of them are more germaphils that germaphobes.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      They are fun and cute. We just want to make sure we don't turn our kids into germaphobes. It's a fine line.