Teach children about the importance of good personal hygiene and its effects on overall health. Even very young children can learn about healthy foods and the proper procedures for brushing their teeth and washing their hands. Review the basics of good personal hygiene with fun activities that help children develop lifelong healthy habits.
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Demonstrate the effects of cavities on teeth, as suggested by Teaching Heart. Tell children to pretend that an apple is a tooth. Poke a hole in the apple and explain that cavities are holes in our teeth. Observe the changes in the apple over the course of a week and relate them to the changes in our teeth. ChildFun recommends graphing favourite flavours of toothpaste. Squeeze a very small amount of each flavour of toothpaste on a craft stick for each child. Let the children taste the types of toothpaste, reminding them not to swallow toothpaste when they brush their teeth. Ask each child his favourite flavour of toothpaste and add it to the graph. The ChildFun website also recommends teaching children how to properly brush their teeth using soda bottles to represent teeth. Cut the bottom from a plastic soda bottle and turn it upside down to represent a tooth. Cover the tooth with shaving cream and let the children brush it off with toothbrushes. Extend the idea by using the bottoms of two or three smaller soda bottles. Press balls of clay onto the edges of the "teeth" to hold them in place on a table. Line up the "teeth" in a row and model the correct way to floss using a piece of yarn.
Introduce children to proper nutrition with food group collages, as suggested by the Education World website. Cut foods from cooking magazines or newspaper grocery ads. Sort the pictures into food groups to make collages. Help children realise the variety of foods by gluing pictures of foods onto posters for each letter of the alphabet. ChildFun recommends gluing pictures to construction paper fish shapes to make a fishing game. Add a paper clip to each fish and use a magnet to catch the fish. Sort the "caught" fish into buckets labelled with the names of food groups. Invite children to try new foods and describe their tastes.
Help children realise the importance of washing their hands with warm water and soap with an experiment designed by the Harris County Department of Public Health and Environmental Services. Squirt lotion onto each child's hands and add a pinch of glitter to represent germs. Tell children to rub the lotion and glitter over their hands. Divide the children into three groups. The first group should attempt to wipe off the "germs" with a paper towel; the second group should attempt to wash off the "germs" with cold water; and the third group should wash off the "germs" with warm water and soap. Discuss the most effective way to get rid of germs and how often children should wash their hands.
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- Teaching Heart: Dental Health Unit/Theme
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