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Back in March, when we were all first learning how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, experts encouraged us to wash our hands often and thoroughly. The popular measure of each handwashing session was singing the ”Happy Birthday” song, twice. Months later, how many of us are still singing and counting as we wash?

We may be growing weary of COVID routines, yet as parents and caregivers of young children, we’re still responsible for teaching our little ones to wash their hands and follow good hygiene practices. It’s time to shake things up and find some new ways to make handwashing fun and educational.

Mix Up the Music!

You can sing the “Happy Birthday” song in about 10 seconds. When you sing it twice, you’re sure to reach the recommended 20 seconds of handwashing. But of course there are other songs children can sing as they wash. “The ABC song,” for example, takes a bit longer than 20 seconds, but is still an excellent choice for preschoolers.

How about one of these?

  • “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (20 seconds)
  • “If You’re Happy and You Know It (Wash Your Hands)” (20 seconds)
  • “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (28 seconds)
  • “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (26 seconds per verse)
  • “The Wheels on the Bus” (15 seconds per verse)
  • “Baby Shark” (5 seconds per verse)
  • “BINGO” (16 seconds per verse)
  • “London Bridge Is Falling Down” (12 seconds per verse)

Or check out this awesome handwashing song from The Wiggles!

Try New Soap!

The novelty of a new type of soap can be enough to add some zing to your child’s handwashing routine. Your child may enjoy foaming soap, colored soap, soap that comes in fun shapes, or soap with a special scent. If spending money on fancy soap is not for you, maybe you have some little hotel soaps or soap samples you can let your child use for handwashing.

Pretend & Play at the Sink

Does your child have a plastic doll or animal toy that won’t be damaged by water? Ask your child to teach their toy how to wash their hands or paws. Your child will likely enjoy the opportunity to be the boss. And their own hands will get clean in the process!

Learning the Letters W – A – S – H

If your family needs some reminders to wash their hands, ask your child to help make some signs to place near the sink or by the front door, and they’ll learn their letters at the same time. The sign might be a simple reminder, such as “Have you washed your hands?” Or try a more elaborate project, such as a poster with instructions and diagrams. Your child may also enjoy making a chart or graph to record how many times family members wash. Use stickers or checkmarks and help your child count up the total at the end of each day.

Science Experiments

Aspiring scientists may enjoy using a magnifying glass at the sink to study their hands before, during, and after each wash. Make sure there’s enough light to see the texture of the skin, the shine of the soap bubbles, and the slick surface of the water.

Adding fun and educational activities to your child’s handwashing routine may mean allowing for more time at the sink, but the benefits include cleaner hands and wiser minds.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “When and How to Wash Your Hands,” 2020 UNICEF, “Everything You Need to Know about Washing Your Hands to Protect Against Coronavirus (COVID-19),” 2020

Learn More

BrainPOP, “Washing Hands Activities for Kids,” [n.d.] Gordon, Beth, “20 Ideas for Making Hand Washing for Kids FUN!” 2020