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Fun ways to teach kids good habits
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For kids who are eager to run and play, the importance of washing their hands regularly is often lost. - photo by ara photo

(ARA) - But the effects of cleanliness and good hygiene are significant. For example, each year, American children lose 22 million school days to the common cold, according to the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention.
While washing hands can seem like a simple act, keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick - or getting somebody else sick - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of the common cold, flu and other infectious diseases is to wash your hands regularly and dry them thoroughly with a paper towel.

Sometimes it takes more than statistics and instruction to influence kids to do the right thing. That’s why Georgia-Pacific Professional has teamed with Weekly Reader to develop The Art of Washing Hands, a program that makes hand hygiene fun. Teachers, daycare providers and parents may benefit from these suggestions for teaching hand washing at The Art of Washing Hands website:

• Get musical. Experts recommend scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap. Try teaching children a song about hand washing or another fun song - just be sure it takes 20 seconds to sing. This can be an easy timer for scrubbing those hands, fingers and nails. In fact, two popular choices include singing “Happy Birthday” twice or the ABC’s once.

• Group activities. Quiz young ones on the proper steps of hand washing by turning the steps into a fun game. When a child gets the answers right, prizes may be offered to keep them interested. For example, ask children to name as many instances as they can about when to wash their hands, such as after playing outside or after a sneeze.

• Individual activities. The Art of Washing Hands website offers many printable and interactive activities, including a coloring game where students can color germ characters while they learn how to eliminate them. For another activity, ask children to draw illustrations that represent each step in the hand washing process.

More activities and downloadable lessons are available at
Before you remind young ones how to wash their hands, here’s a good refresher that includes recommendations from the CDC:

• Wet your hands with clean water (warm if possible) and apply soap.

• Lather your hands and be sure to scrub everywhere, including between fingers and around your nails.

• Rub your hands together for 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.

• Rinse your hands under running water.

• Dry your hands thoroughly. If available, use a paper towel, and then use the paper towel to turn off the faucet to avoid further interaction with germs.

By effectively teaching your children or students the importance of washing their hands regularly, you’ll do your part to keep them healthy and in the classroom.