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Germ research

preschool children and educator placing Plasticine on body outline

Project information

Medical learning in hospital corner

The births of baby siblings to two children in the group sparked the question, “Where do babies come from?” This inspired the children to set up a hospital corner, where they role-played treating patients and learned a lot about bodies through a variety of activities, including how to bandage patients. There was a lot of interest and participation from the parents and we were lucky to have two fathers, a heart doctor and an ambulance officer, visit and talk about their work with the children.

Becoming specialists

With this extensive medical background, our examination of handwashing and hygiene routines quickly turned into some serious research on germs. After learning a bit more about where germs hide, how they spread and how to get rid of them, the children wanted to collect some germs. Thinking about how we could make the germs visible, we decided to use half slices of bread to wipe germ-infected areas.

On the hunt for germs

In a group discussion, the children came up with a number of locations that they thought would be particularly germ-infested: “stinky feet”, “door handles”, the ground”, “toilet seat”, “cough”, “hands”. We added some outdoor locations as well, deciding that we would also wipe our slices of bread on “a tree”, “bark, dirt and sand”, “bubbler taps”, “bike pedals and handles” and the “slide beam”. The children had so much fun collecting their germ samples, lying on their backs and sticking their feet in the air, even making sure to wipe between their toes! They also made sure to cough on a slice of bread. We put the slices of bread into individual plastic bags and labelled them so we would know where the germs on each slice came from.

In the meantime…

While we were waiting for our germs to grow in the slices of bread, the children were busy painting germs, talking about where they were from and having conversations about what they’d learnt about germs: “They are tiny and make you sick”, “Germs are in our mouths,” “We get a fever when our bodies are trying to get rid of germs.” We also practised some expert hand washing with soap to ensure that the germs on our hands don’t make us sick.

Black and white results

We kept revisiting the bread, which we had attached to a big board with illustrations of where it had been wiped and by Day 4, the slices were mostly black and partially covered in white mould. The outdoor slices seemed to have slightly less black parts, and the blackest slices were the ones wiped on the floor and the stinky feet. The children were so excited by their outcomes that some of them wiped bread on their pets and rubbish bins at home as ‘homework’.

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