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Wash Those Hands!

This activity is easy to do and gives Early Years a clear visual of why hand washing is so important. It is best suited for older children in small groups

Follow our simple step-by-step guide to have a go at this activity today:

What you will need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • White paper towels/tissue paper
  • Water
  • Hand soap
  • Bowl

Preparing the activity:

  1. Pour some cocoa powder into the bowl so it’s easy to place hands in and get covered in the powder.
  2. Prepare two sets of paper towels/tissue paper for each child.
Photo by Paul Zilvanus Lonan from Pexels - washing hands

Doing the activity:

Start by talking to the children about washing hands and why they think it’s important. Enable children to discuss ideas about cleanliness or germs with one another.

Encourage the children to think about the importance of soap and why we don’t just wash our hands with water.

One by one, encourage the children to put their hands in the cocoa power, acting as germs, and rub it between their palms. They should get a good dusting of powder on their palms and fingers.

Next, allow the children to explore what happens when they wash their hands without soap; after washing their hands like their usually would (without soap), ask children to dry their hands on some white paper towels. The paper towels should have cocoa powder ‘germ’ stains on them after the children have dried their hands.

Ask the children to put cocoa powder on their hands again but, this time, wash them with soap. Encourage children to wash between their fingers to make sure they wash off all the cocoa powder.

Show your Early Years how to dry their hands on fresh paper towels. By comparing the first batch paper towels they used to the second, the children should be able to see a clear difference in the amount of cocoa powder left on their hands after washing.

To extend the activity, ask one child to rub cocoa powder on their hands, then shake hands with a child with clean hands. Encourage them to observe and discuss the transfer of ‘germs’ from one person to another. It might help if the second child in this instance wipes their hands with a paper towel so the cocoa powder can be seen more clearly.

Tracking the activity:

30-50 months

Communication and Language: Understanding: “Understands use of objects (e.g. “What do we use to cut things?’); Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.”

Communication and Language: Speaking: “Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because).; Questions why things happen and gives explanations. Asks e.g. who, what, when, how.”

Physical Development: Health and self-care: “Can usually manage washing and drying hands.”

40-60+ months

Communication and Language: Understanding: “Responds to instructions involving a two-part sequence. Understands humour, e.g. nonsense rhymes, jokes.; Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion.”

Communication and Language: Speaking: “Uses talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events.”

Physical Development: Health and self-care: “Shows some understanding that good practices with regard to exercise, eating, sleeping and hygiene can contribute to good health.”