How to teach children about germs in 10 easy steps

Teaching children the link between ‘invisible’ germs and illnesses can be tricky.

Luckily VFV volunteers Abi and Marijke have a clever way of demonstrating this.

Step 1 : Get four children to volunteer for the experiment.

Step 2: Take some glitter and sprinkle it on the hands of two of the volunteers. Explain that the glitter is representing germs and that germs can make us ill. Normally we can’t see germs but the glitter lets us ‘see’ them for the experiment.

applying glitter to volunteer's hands

Applying the glitter










Step 3: Get those volunteers with glittery hands to shake hands with the other two volunteers.

Step 4: All the volunteers show their hands to the audience. Everyone can see that the hands of all volunteers have glitter (germs) on them!

Demonstration of germ transfer

Demonstration of germ transfer










Step 5: Now get the volunteers to touch plates, spoons and other objects.

Step 6: Show the objects to the audience (which now have glitter on them) to show how easy it is to spread the glitter (germs).

Step 7: Check that the audience have understood the message!

children washing hands

Washing hands can be fun!

close up of hand washing

Close up of hand washing

Dad and daughter hand washing

Even Dad can join in!








Step 8: Now get all the volunteers to wash their hands thoroughly.

Step 9: The volunteers come back and show their clean, glitter free hands to the audience.

Step 10: The children now understand how germs can spread and how important proper hand washing is.


To reinforce the message Abi and Marijke ensure that all children in their feeding project wash their hands properly before eating their daily meal. The children have started to really enjoy this ritual and sometimes it’s hard to drag them away from the taps!

Find out how you can help children understand the link between hygiene and health in one easy step by volunteering or donating!


Photos and story by Liz Avery – VFV Media Intern

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