How Germs Can Hide: Sensory Activity for Preschoolers

How Germs Can Hide: Sensory Activity for Preschoolers


Are you a preschool parent and looking for an engaging and educational activity to teach preschoolers about hygiene and the importance of washing hands thoroughly as a healthy habit? Try this exciting sensory activity we do in our center every year when learning how to make healthy choices and learning how germs can spread! While there are a variety of science, sensory and art projects that take place throughout the year, one of the children’s favorites was our sensory activity that shows just how sneaky germs can be. 

In this sensory activity for preschoolers, our teacher, Ms. Samantha, used washable neon paint to show the children how easily germs can spread when someone sneezes or touches things.


She took the washable neon paint and squirted a little bit onto each child’s hand. She told her students that each dot of paint represents germs. She even pretended to sneeze and then would put paint on their hand demonstrating just how easily germs can spread. Ms. Samantha also explained how we can get germs on our hands just by touching different surfaces, and why it’s so important to wash our hands regularly throughout the day – not just when we go to the bathroom. Once everyone got a bit of paint on their hands, Ms. Samantha instructed the children to rub their hands together and spread the paint.


Next up was the surprising (and a bit exciting!) part for the children. The children are then told to wash off all of the paint. Next comes the blacklight test.

Picture3Ms. Samantha turned off the lights to the classroom and shined a blacklight over the children’s hands. To everyone’s surprise, a lot of the children still had pink paint on their hands! 

The children loved seeing the effects of the blacklist, and were shocked that there’s still paint on their hands. Ms. Samantha explained to her students that a quick hand wash doesn’t quite get all of the germs off, and how it’s so important to be thorough when it comes to cleaning off the germs.  

Picture4Ms. Samantha used this opportunity to teach the children about the importance of washing hands thoroughly using warm water, soap, and rubbing their hands together for at least 20 seconds. She also emphasized the importance of washing hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after playing with toys or being in contact with others to prevent the spread of harmful germs.

Do it at home!

Interested in trying out a new sensory activity for your preschooler at home? Here’s how. 

1. Gather the materials

All that you’ll need is washable neon paint, warm water, soap, and a blacklight. 

2. Distribute the Paint 

Squirt a small amount of washable neon paint onto your child’s hand and explain that each dot represents a germ! You can use this as a learning opportunity to discuss common ways that germs are spread – touching door handles, sneezing, coughing, or going to the bathroom. After placing a dot of paint on them, have your child rub their hands together to spread the paint and understand how easily germs spread. 

3. Wash it Off

Have your child wash off their hands how they normally would, without instruction. 

4. Turn Off the Lights!

Turn off the lights and use the blacklight to examine the remaining paint on your child’s hands. Notice together that although they washed their hands, there’s still paint remaining on their hands! 

5. Importance of Washing Hands 

Reflect with your child on how they washed their hands, and how they could improve to wash off all the germs. Together, wash your hands with warm water and soap, and scrub all surfaces for at least 20 seconds. Use this opportunity to reinforce the importance of washing your hands regularly and thoroughly to prevent the spread of germs and to stay healthy. 

Have fun!

We had so much fun with this sensory activity and hope you will too. By reinforcing these healthy habits both at school and at home regularly, we can help children develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. 


Additional Resources

Find more information and tools on our.  Parent Resources page »

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