Prevent Germs From Spreading

Teach Kids About Germs Lesson Plan

Children will learn that germs are tiny living things. In fact, they are so small we can’t even see them. These tiny germs can live anywhere, including on their hands and surfaces.

Download the Germ Detectives Lesson Plan

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Some germs can make children sick, so they have to learn to keep their hands and surfaces clean to help prevent bad germs from spreading.

Goals and Skills


  • Understand that germs live on hands and surfaces, but are too small to see
  • Understand that to prevent and reduce the spread of germs, we must wash our hands and keep our hands out of our mouths, eyes, and noses
  • Identify places and objects where germs live and hide
  • Demonstrate their knowledge about germs, and how they are spread, through discussion



  • Cornstarch or flour
  • Blocks
  • Tray
  • Clipboards
  • Markers
  • Chart paper with printed images or pictures from magazines of bathroom, playing outdoors, eating, and sneezing or coughing
  • Optional: Copies of When to wash your hands handout (Last page of PDF)



Learn more about the prevention of germs on hands and surfaces at Visit the CDC’s general handwashing information at You can also access the CDC’s germ stats and scientific information at


For tips on how to keep hands and surfaces cleaning your classroom, go to There is also a handwashing poster  you can print and display above the sink at


We encourage you to make the lesson plan your own to fit the needs and ages of the children in your classroom.

Instruction Steps


Begin the discussion by inviting children to share what they think germs are. Go on to explain what germs are with the following facts:

  • Germs are tiny living things that are all around us all the time
  • Not all germs are harmful, but some can make us sick
  • Germs can live anywhere, like inside our bodies and on our hands and surfaces like tables, floors, and toilets
  • Germs can get inside our body through our mouths eyes, and noses
  • Keeping hands and surfaces clean helps prevent bad germs from spreading



This fun activity will help children see how germs can live on surfaces and spread. Invite children to stand around a table. Explain that you will pretend that the powder in the bag, cornstarch or flour, represents germs. While children watch, cover blocks in the “germ powder.” Have them put one hand behind their back and then invite each child to pick up one block with one hand and hold it for just a few seconds. Ask the children to put the block back down on the tray and open their hand to show their palm.


Ask,“What happened to your hand? Where did the powder come from? Where did the ‘germs’ come from?” The germs came from the blocks. Explain that like powder, germs can live on surfaces and stick to tables and floors as well as blocks, toys, and faucets.


Next, ask the children,“What do you think will happen if you drop the block on the table?”. Demonstrate that germs will spread onto the table. Explain that like powder, germs can live on surfaces and can remain on surfaces for a long time.

Child peering into microscope


Explain that you will now show how germs spread. Ask, “What do you think will happen when we clap our hands together?” Tell them to clap their hands once and notice what happens to the other hand. “Did the germs spread?”


Have children look at their hands again and ask them to explain where the powder originally came from (blocks) and how it traveled. Explain that we can spread germs by touching other body parts, objects, or people with our hands.


Another way that germs spread is when we sneeze or cough. Pretend you need to sneeze and clap your hands, making sure to show how germs travel through the air and spread when we don’t cover our mouths.

Child peering around bathroom door


Explain that germs have places where they gather and hide. Some places have more germs than others. These germs can make us sick if we don’t remember to wash our hands after touching an area where germs live.


Today, we will look around the classroom for germs in hiding. Explain that the clues will lead us to times and places where we will find germs that can make us sick. We will then post signs to remind everyone to wash their hands so we can wash germs away and stay healthy.


Make a chart to tally and record the children’s responses. You can use printed images or pictures from magazines as visuals for the chart. After each clue is discussed, check off the last box to indicate germs were found at that location or time



  1. Germs are found in places that are frequently touched.*
  2. Animals and pets carry germs that can make us sick.
  3. Your hands can have germs even when they look clean, especially after you eat, cough, or sneeze

*Explain frequently means it is touched many times by a lot of people.


Now that children know where germs live, ask them to recall when and/or where they found germs. Post signs around these areas (bathroom, door, snack table, etc.) to remind children to wash their hands.


Ask for children’s input when deciding where to post reminders for handwashing.

Child eating a plate of fruit


On chart paper, post images of the following activities (using the bathroom, eating, sneezing, and playing outside) as shown below.


Read the following scenarios out loud. Ask the children to tell you if handwashing should take place before or after an activity.

  • Tim will use the bathroom.
  • Tonya will eat a delicious apple*.
  • Maria sneezes.
  • Mel is playing outside

*NOTE: Explain the importance of washing hands BOTH before and after eating.



Ask children to help create classroom rules or guidelines to help prevent the spread of germs in school. Make sure to include washing hands after using the bathroom, washing hands before eating, covering mouths when coughing and sneezing, etc.


Have children draw pictures of the guidelines. Then, encourage them to sign a class pledge to keep their hands clean and prevent the spread of germs by following the guidelines. Post the class pledge, along with all of their drawings, on a bulletin board as reminders to prevent germs from spreading.



Have children make a list of places at home where germs live and share the list with their parents. Children can work with their families to create visual signs and reminders to post around the house. For example: in the kitchen near the countertops, in the bathroom, above light switches, etc.

Download the Germ Detectives Lesson Plan

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