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Hand Washing Activities for Preschoolers

Handwashing is one of the life skills that all children need to master at an early age. Fortunately for parents, preschoolers love to play in the water. For most young learners, all that’s needed is a soap dispenser, some clean water and a hand towel, and ta-dah! You have an instant fun hand-washing activity that also doubles as a personal hygiene lesson. 

But for some young children, hand washing is more of a chore. So fun handwashing activities combined with easy steps will help turn reluctant hand washers into preschoolers with clean hands and healthy habits. 

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Hand Washing Activities for Preschoolers

1. Set a Good Example

One of the best ways to help little ones see the importance of handwashing is by setting a good example for them. Verbalize what you’re doing throughout the day like, “I just sneezed. I need to wash my hands.” Children will soon be following your lead. Or let the children tell you. For example, ” I just sneezed. Is there something I need to do after I throw my tissue away?” Children love ‘helping grown-ups remember something.’

2. Teach Handwashing Steps

Preschoolers will need plenty of practice learning the proper way to wash their hands. Make sure they have the things they need to get the job done properly: a step stool, liquid soap, something to dry with – a clean towel or paper towel, and warm water (make sure the water isn’t too hot). Show them at least once the right way to wash their hands by washing your own hands in front of them. If you have enough sink area space you may want to have a little hand washing fun washing your hands at the same time.

Here are some simple steps for your child to do each time they wash their hands:

  1. Turn on the water ( this is a skill you will need to practice)
  2. Wet their hands 
  3. Add soap to their hands 
  4. Rub their hands together and start singing a song for 20 seconds ( see some of the ideas for songs below) 
  5. Rinse their hands off
  6. Dry their hands with a clean towel or paper towel
  7. Turn off the water

3. Sing Songs While Washing Hands

Singing songs while washing hands is a fun way to be sure your child’s hands are being washed long enough. Here are a few songs your child can use. Let them pick one and sing it twice as they are washing their hands.

  • The Alphabet Song
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 
  • Happy Birthday Song
  • Tops and Bottoms

Tops and Bottoms, sung to the tune of Frère Jacque

Tops and bottoms, tops and bottoms
In between, in between
Rub your hands together, rub your hands together
Now they’re clean, now they’re clean.
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soapy hands

4. Teach Your Child Key Times to Wash Their Hands 

Your little one not only needs to learn how to wash those little hands, but they also need to know key times  to wash them to prevent the spread of germs.  With frequent reminders, children will soon get in the habit of regular hand washing 

Before and after:

  • eating or handling food

After:

  • coughing or sneezing
  • using the bathroom
  • coming in from outside
  • taking care of the trash
  • putting fingers in their mouth or nose
  • wipe their nose, mouth, or eyes
  • petting animals
  • helping a sick child
  • cleaning with chemicals
  • working on art projects
  • touching anything dirty

5. Read Picture Books 

Reading picture books is a wonderful way to teach your young learners a new skill. Here are some your preschooler may like:

  • Pete The Kitty Wash Your Hands by James Dean
  • Curious George: Wash Your Hands by H.A. Rey
  • Baby Shark: Wash Your Hands! by Pinkfong

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