Preschool is the perfect time to teach kids about health and hygiene. For the first time in their lives, preschool students are exposed to children their age for long periods of time. They play together, eat together, use the same bathrooms and socialise in the same classrooms and play yards. When it's time for students to use the block area, incorporate health and hygiene activities to teach them how to play well and clean up after themselves.
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While most preschoolers have been introduced to the concept of hand-washing, many of them fail to do it for the correct amount of time or with proper attention to detail. Since preschoolers will be sharing many of the same toys in the block area, they must know to wash their hands before and after playing with the blocks. To conduct a hand-washing activity in the block area, have students sit in a group in front of you. Demonstrate proper hand-washing techniques as demonstrated by the American Red Cross. Students should know to scrub the palms and tops of their hands, washing with warm water and soap for 20 seconds, then drying their hands with a paper towel and throwing it in the trash when done. Once you have demonstrated technique, have your students put their hands in the air. Take them through the motions of getting liquid soap, scrubbing their hands under the water for 20 seconds, drying with a towel and throwing the towel in the trash. Quiz them out loud about the process and ask them to practice these steps before and after playing in the block area.
Preschoolers must learn to clean up the area around them to maintain personal and group cleanliness. Before playtime in the block area, have the toys set up in an organised fashion. Show and explain the reasoning behind cleanliness and organisation to your students, and tell them they will have to return the play area to the exact state they found it in. Give the children free time as you normally would, letting students play with the toys on their own. Afterward, give them 15 minutes to return the play area to its original condition. Time students and promise a reward for a proper cleaning job so they are encouraged to clean with intention.
The block area typically has adequate space for role-playing and toys that students can use as props. Set up several health and hygiene scenarios, such as one about proper nutrition, one about brushing your teeth, one about cleaning your hands, and one about how to sneeze or cough appropriately to prevent the spread of germs. Split students into even teams and allow them to come up with a short skit about their health or hygiene topic. Since the students are so young, they may have trouble coming up with a complete story. Listen in and assist each group through the skit process.
After the role play, or as a project on its own, conduct an oral health and hygiene quiz. Come up with a list of questions about nutrition, exercise and personal hygiene practices. Split students into even teams and have each team answer a question. As teams answer questions correctly, give them a toy to play with during free time in the block area directly after the quiz.
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