Washing Hands Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about how to wash hands properly. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Washing Hands. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Washing hands is the most important and easiest way to keep yourself and other people healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom and only one in three people wash their hands after coughing or sneezing. Proper hand washing can prevent the spread of germs and illnesses.

Your children should understand that there are many times during the day when they should wash their hands. At a minimum, they should wash their hands:

* before, during, and after food preparation
* before they eat
* after using the bathroom
* after touching animals or their waste (We recommend watching the Caring for Pets movie together as a review.)
* after playing outside
* after being around someone who is sick
* after coughing or blowing their noses

To wash hands properly, wet the hands with water and rub them with soap for twenty seconds. Warm water works well, but cold water is sufficient enough to wash germs from the oils on the skin. Soapy water should reach all the surfaces of the hands, including between the fingers, the palms, and the tops of the hands. The scrubbing action and the soap helps break up and remove germs. After the hands are rinsed thoroughly, a paper towel can be used to turn off the faucet to keep hands clean. Remind your children that they should dry their hands with a clean towel or paper towel, not with their clothing. If washing in a public restroom, the same paper towel can be used to open the door. Doorknobs and handles are usually contaminated with many germs.

As your children begin to pay more attention to what they touch and learn about how germs can spread and cause illnesses, they should become more aware of hand washing and require less prompting. Understanding how hand washing helps prevent the spread of germs will help your children take responsibility for their own and other people’s health.