How to Show Children How Germs Spread

by Zora Hughes

    You may have successfully taught your child about germs and how they make you sick, but if she is still sneezing into her hands, or rinsing her hands under water when you tell her to wash up, she may not understand how easily germs are spread. Use your creativity to show your child how germs are spread and the importance of preventing them from spreading as much as possible.

    Step 1

    Read books to your child about germs. Choose an age-appropriate book that will introduce your children to the concept of how easily they are spread. For kids ages 5 and older, "A Germ's Journey," by Dr. Thom Rooke, shows kids how cold germs travel and spread. Another book, for kids ages 7 and older, is "Bil Nye the Science Guy's Great Big Book of Tiny Germs," which details a variety of germs and how easy some are to spread.

    Step 2

    Demonstrate to your child how germs are spread through humorous skits. You and your spouse or partner can act out scenarios in a silly, humorous manner to show how germs are spread. For example, you can show how cold germs can spread by sharing food. Pretend to be sick and bite into a sandwich, then pass it to your spouse to eat. He then pretends to get sick in a dramatic way. You can also use your child's play food to demonstrate how raw food germs can spread without proper sanitization.

    Step 3

    Use stickers to show how germs are spread. Pretend to sneeze in your hand, then place a sticker on your hand to represent a germ. Have your child follow you as you touch surfaces and place a sticker on everything you touch. Tell your child to touch the surfaces you touched and put the stickers on her. Talk to her about how she can now become sick because she touched the germs that you spread around.

    Step 4

    Use glitter to demonstrate the importance of washing hands. Rub a dab of lotion into your hands, then add a pinch of glitter to one of your palms. Explain that the glitter represents germs. Rub your hands together to show your child how the germs are spread. Touch your child and point out the glitter you have left on her. Have her try to wipe it off with a paper towel -- which will not be effective -- then have her wash her hands with soap and water, making sure she rubs her hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Explain that washing hands is the only effective way to get rid of the germs.


    • Prevent your child from rushing through hand washing by having her sing the alphabet while she is lathering and rubbing her hands together. Explain that she cannot rinse until she has made it through the whole song.

    About the Author

    Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

    Photo Credits

    • Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images