Encompass Blog

Learning About Germs and Handwashing with Glitter

April 6, 2020  |  Parenting, Early Learning  |  By Courtney Waugh, MSOT, OTR/L

Activity Goals:

  1. Your child will understand and see that germs can transfer from one surface to another.
  2. Your child will learn how to eliminate germs by washing hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds.


  • Lotion or cooking oil
  • Glitter or spices (such as ground cinnamon or cocoa powder)


  1. Introduce the lesson, explaining that we are learning about germs and how they spread. Ask your child where they think germs live. After listening to the answers, tell your child that germs are everywhere and that they are going to see how germs spread.
  2. Show your child your hands and have them look at their hands. Ask your child if they can see any germs on their hands. Explain that germs are small and cannot be seen by human eyes.
  3. Show your child the glitter or spice. Explain that the glitter or spice will serve as the “germs.” We are going to see if germs spread or not. If germs spread, they (or the glitter/spices) will move from one person to the next.
  4. Next, put oil or lotion on your child’s hands. A little extra on the child’s palms will help the glitter/spices stick more. Pour glitter onto your child’s palm. Have them spread the glitter all over their hands. Have your child look at their hands, asking if they can see the “germs” (glitter/spice) now.
  5. Ask your child to touch your hand, a paper towel, their favorite toys, doorknobs, etc. to see if the germs continue to spread. Observe and discuss what happens to the glitter “germs.”
  6. Hand Hygiene and Getting Rid of Germs – Have a discussion about how your child thinks they can get rid of the glitter or germs. Let them try using a paper towel or just plain cold water (no soap) to see if that works.
  7. Tell your child that washing their hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds is a good way to get rid of the germs. Have the child practice washing their hands by singing the ABCs together or Happy Birthday (twice).

Fine Motor Follow-Up Activities

  • These coloring pictures are a fun way to reinforce this lesson’s key points.
  • Have your child trace their hand and cut out the handprint. Then have your child draw a “germ” (you can show an example) on the handprint. Your child can then write about the key points on lined paper.

Sensory Tips

  • Overall this is a great sensory activity where the child will have the opportunity to have “messy hands” and feel different textures. The feeling of lotion and glitter with different smells may be a lot for your child to tolerate. Please be aware that this can be a strong sensory experience for a child.

Modified from https://snhschilddevelopment.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/1/2/13125961/glittergermslessonplan.pdf

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