In the current climate, teaching our children to practice safe hygiene is more important than ever.

Guardian Childcare & Education has been conducting multiple experiments within their centres to bring to life important hygiene lessons.

These safe, hands-on learning experiments are a great way to teach children about the spread of germs and instil valuable hygiene habits.

Soap and Pepper Experiment

This experiment was practiced in order to help their older preschool children (aged 4+) discover the powers of soap!

To start the experiment, black pepper (representing ‘germs’) is added to a bowl of water. When the children dip their fingers in the water, ‘germs’ will stick to them. Then, after dipping their fingers in soap, the ‘germs’ disperse from the children’s fingers and instead run to the edge of the water bowl.

As germs are too small to see, the concept of hygiene can often be confusing for young children. The use of pepper in this experiment offers children a visual understanding of the importance of washing their hands with soap.

The Educators later built on this understanding by demonstrating and teaching the children how to wash their hands thoroughly.

The children were encouraged to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, equating to 20 seconds – the amount of time it takes to ensure your hands are completely clean!

“Before every meal, the children wash their hands, and practice their good hand-washing technique. They then hold their hands behind their backs or with their palms together, ensuring not to touch anything, as they make their way to the table for eating. This way, their hands are pristine,” says Kylie Davenport, Centre Manager Guardian Childcare & Education Pymble.

GlitterBug Potion Experiment

Another experiment was set up to demonstrate to the children the importance of thorough hand washing. They did this with the assistance of the product GlitterBug Potion.

The children were encouraged to rub the potion all over their hands and wrists, and wait until it dried invisibly. The children then washed their hands to remove the potion. The GlitterBug Potion would only be removed if the children used good handwashing technique. The Educators then shone a UV light onto the children’s hands, to see if any GlitterBug Potion was left, as it shows up under the special light.

This experiment cleverly shows how important it is to wash your hands properly to get rid of all the nasty germs.

glitterbug experiment
Children at Guardian Childcare & Education Essendon participating in the GlitterBug Experiment


Growing Germs Experiment

A third experiment was conducted to show the effects of four different apple slices after leaving them for a week in individual enclosed containers. One apple was untouched, one was touched with unwashed hands, one was touched with hands only washed with water, and the last was touched with thoroughly washed hands, before placing them in their containers.

At the end of the week, the children excitedly checked the apples to see what germs had grown. As predicted, the apple with thoroughly washed hands was the cleanest, while the slice of apple touched with dirty hands was covered in the most bacteria, visually demonstrating how important it is to have clean hands – especially when touching food.

“Maintaining good hand hygiene is extremely important. Together with the children, we practice washing our hands carefully and thoroughly to ensure we are doing everything we can to help prevent the spread of germs”, says Kristina Solomon, Assistant Centre Manager at Guardian Childcare & Education Tempe.

“When the children saw the results of the apple experiment, they were shocked at the impact of their dirty hands!”

How have you been teaching your kids the importance of hand hygiene? Tell us in the comments below.

Main image: Hunter (4yrs) participating in the soap and pepper experiment at the Guardian’s Pymble centre.

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  • great experiments to try, thanks :-)


  • If it works then use it.


  • I love these. Should be mandatory in school to do some of these to highlight the importance.


  • The Glitterbug Potion sounds great, but not something you can do at home, unfortunately.


  • Great ideas. We can all use some encouragement. Kids will love the glitterbug experiment.


  • My son heard the Wiggles song and he thibks its great when we use sanitizer when out.


  • We sing baby shark whilst washing our hands


  • Very clever ideas, great for visual learners.


  • It is so important to teach the kids good hand hygiene right now. Our school teachers got the kids to put on rubber gloves and then covered their hands in paint. The kids then had to wash off all the paint imagining it was germs.


  • It takes a few weeks but we’ve done the one with the bread slices. Very visual display of what germs can do over time.


  • Great ideas here. Love the glitter one.


  • So many great activities for a range of ages. Little people can certainly learn from a few of these engaging ideas!


  • yes that’s right. i’m getting my son to do so many activities that tell us about germs and of course hand washing.


  • I hope these methods work. Some little ones in the cold weather will only dip the tips of their fingers in the water if it is cold.


  • I have always been strict about personal hygiene but these ideas are creative and would be fun for the little ones!


  • Some easy fun activities here to teach kids about hand hygiene


  • clever techniques here, a fun and great way to educate little ones about germs


  • These are clever and would probably work better than my strategy: nagging.


  • Definitely a must, othan than hand washing it is best go train a child in over all personal hygiene like taking a bath, brushing the teeth, changing clothes and many more


  • I want to try the glitterbug with the light! Would be interesting to see even as an adult how we do our own hygiene. I just tell my kids to count to 20.


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