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Teaching Hand Washing To Children - Using A UV Light

How we Montessori teaching kids about handwashing uv glow

We know that good hand washing is critical in protecting our children from COVID-19 and the flu. Like most parents I've been supervising my children's hand washing especially when they've come in from outside. My older children know how to wash their hands but I've found myself constantly reminding them to "use more soap', "wash for 20 seconds".  I knew there was a better way, a visual way of getting the message across and I pulled out some hand wash training lotion and a UV light.

How we Montessori teaching kids about handwashing uv glow

The idea is the child puts the hand wash training lotion on their hands, they rub in all over. They can then wash their hands and put their hands under the UV light. The areas on their hands where the cream has NOT washed off will glow. If they do a poor job of washing their hands, the hands will glow a lot. If they wash their hands well, their hands will not glow.

This technique is good for adults too to demonstrate how effective good hand washing techniques can be but also serves as a reminder to wash in between the fingers, around the wrist and also to wash around your nails. This is the same hand wash training lotion I used when teaching food safety and hygiene in Local Government.

Honestly, even I was surprised by the results. We found that Otto (2yrs) needs a lot more help in washing his hands. When we help him we need to be more thorough.

For the older children (Otis 8yrs and Caspar 12yrs) I asked them to wash their hands with water only first and then with soap. Wow, they could really see the difference! Most importantly, when they washed their hands with soap for the full twenty seconds they could see how effective their hand washing is.

This was so important, I wanted them to see for themselves how they must use soap and wash all areas of their hands for the full 20 seconds.

How we Montessori teaching kids about handwashing uv glow

The children learnt that they must use soap to effectively wash their hands!

How we Montessori teaching kids about handwashing uv glow

Above Otis has washed his hands well with soap for 20 seconds. He was thorough at washing in between his fingers but obviously needs pay more attention to washing his nails and the side of his hands.

The hand wash training lotion can be used in different ways. You can put it on the children's hands and let them talk or play for a bit. Then you can put the light on their faces and you can see how many times they have touched their face or see where on their face they have touched. Where they have touched their face will glow under the light. This is fun to do with older children as they may say they haven't touched their eyes, mouth or nose but they are glowing! 

This is a visual way of demonstrating how germs can be transmitted in our environment through touch.

Another reminder for me was how well children learn from other children. Otto immediately washed his hands better and longer when washing his hands with his brothers. Otis showed him how be wash the backs of his hands and in between his fingers and Otto followed with much more interest than he does with me.

How we Montessori hand washing with kids uv light

The hand wash training lotion and UV lights are well suited to group lessons so are ideal for using in schools (I would suggest 5-6 years+), or other working groups. In Australia we use GlitterBug. UV Germ Lotion looks similar in the UK, and GermJuice and GloGerm look similar in the US.

This is a fun alternative to use at home with children, Hand washing children: explain Corona using glitter at Chez Mama Poule (via Google Translate).

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