Stop Germs in the Classroom with 7 Free Bulletin Board Posters
How to Teach kids to Make Hand-Washing and Healthy Habits Stick so that Germs Don't!
If your classroom is starting to feel like a quarantine zone or a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you aren't alone. Chances are your colleagues are all feeling the exact same way. As if teaching didn't already come with enough challenges of its own, now we get to mix in the dreaded cold and flu season. So what's the secret? Is there a way to make sure that you sneak past all of the ever-present germs and make it through the other side of the season without making any sub plans? While we can't offer you a "get-out-of-the-nurse's-office-for-free" card, we can share a few tips and tricks that may help keep everyone in your classroom healthier this season.
Free Bulletin Board Posters for your Classroom
Spice up your classroom with some bulletin board posters:
Try this free Steam activity book:
Sharing isn't always Caring!
While we all want a classroom filled with students that care for each other, certain things are not meant to be shared. Ideally, sick students will keep their germs at home, but what about all those "pre-fever" and "welcome back!" germs? How do we get students to keep those germs to themselves? Many classrooms utilize community supplies. In theory, this is a great way to introduce problem solving and collaboration and to share a wealth of resources. During cold and flu season, however, it might be better for each student to use their own supplies. Are you looking for some quick, easy-to-implement organization strategies? You can win the pencil war and even add crayons, markers, glue sticks, and erasers to the pouches as well. This simple system will keep students organized, keep you from going nuts from constant pencil sharpening, and will hopefully keep a few germs tucked away as well.
You can also use Ziploc containers or large Ziploc bags. A small square can hold a pair of scissors, a box of crayons, a glue stick, an eraser, and a small pencil. You may want to consider stocking each box or bag with its own supply of tissues as well and possibly a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Number the boxes with student numbers to ensure ease of organization and to make sure only one set of hands touches each set of supplies! A quick disinfectant wipe or spray at the end of each week can help keep even these single-student supply containers safer this season.
Seeing is Believing!
The number one secret to keeping germs and illness at bay is proper handwashing, but perhaps the bigger secret is getting our students to understand why good handwashing is so important. Science experiments, , like the viral mold and bread one, are a great way to bring germs to life (literally!) and make their reality a visual reminder. In this experiment, students see what happens when clean bread is passed around and touched by a lot of germy hands. They compare the mold growing on this bread to a slice that is wiped on devices-a slice that has been touched after using hand sanitizer, a slice that has been touched by students after washing their hands, and a control slice that hasn't been touched by anyone. The results speak for themselves but spoiler alert: We need to wash our hands! Trying something like this in your classroom can help your students comprehend the power of germs and inspire them to wash them away.
Another great way to help visualize the need for good handwashing is the cinnamon handwashing experiment. This quick and easy exercise helps drive home the need for soap. Water alone doesn't get rid of cinnamon (or germs!). The most effective strategy for handwashing is plenty of warm water, plenty of soap, and plenty of time.
The glitter experiment can also drive home this point. Students will watch the glitter germs "run away" once the soap is introduced. We need our students to realize that just because our hands look clean, it doesn't mean that they are clean. Slapping high-fives to congratulate our tablemate, playing basketball at recess, and then sharing pencils with our neighbor can all be downright dangerous this season. This quick experiment will help students see (literally!) the need for soap. They must use soap to get their hands clean truly!
Wash, Rinse, and Repeat and Repeat and Repeat...
Like most skills, students need explicit instructions and several reminders before healthy hygiene becomes a habit. Use these FREE classroom posters to help remind students of the proper way to wash their hands, cough and sneeze, and stay healthy not only this season but all year long. Creating a "Healthy Habits" bulletin board will help keep health and wellness a priority in your classroom.
If you're looking for specific lesson plans to help drive home the importance of handwashing and other virus prevention tips, check out Kids Health in the Classroom. This lesson is designed for grades 3-5 but can be easily adapted for any age group. Students will play Musical Cold instead of Musical Chairs. They will see how colds and the flu are shared and learn important prevention strategies.
Another way to make healthy hygiene fun is through these "Stay Healthy" activity sheets. These ready-to-use activities are informative without being intimidating. Download them for quick and easy use in your classroom to help your students see the things they should and shouldn't do in order to avoid this season's illnesses. Creative mazes, puzzles, and word scrambles will help bring hygiene to life and help your students see the simple choices they can make to help win the war against germs.
Like all seasons, this too shall pass. The goal, however, is to have it pass with as few absences, doctor visits, and trips to the pharmacy as possible. The best defense is always a good offense, so get to work today, and make sure that handwashing and healthy hygiene are on your front lines. Your students and your immune system will thank you!