Teaching children about personal hygiene and sanitation not only helps to keep them from getting sick, it also increases their understanding of how much water they use everyday. As the world's poorest communities struggle to find clean water, it's integral to teach your children why it's so important to conserve this ever-dwindling resource.
The Germ Game
Teach your child about basic sanitation and hygiene with the “Germ Game.” Divide the children into two groups: the humans and the dreaded germs. Lead the humans to one side of the room and the “germs” to the other. Help differentiate the two groups by providing the "germs" with red T-shirts. Ask the children age-appropriate questions about germs and sanitation. For instance, ask the children if they should wash their hands after blowing their nose. If the children answer correctly with a “yes,” the germs stay where they are. Each time the children answer incorrectly, one of the germs invades. Any subsequent correct answers send the germs away. Complete a round of eight to 10 questions and count the number of “germs” mixed in with the “humans.” Explain to the children that proper hygiene and sanitation measures were able to keep the germs that make humans sick away.
Tracking Water Usage
Help children understand the importance of water conservation, and how saving water begins at home. Instruct them to track their family's consumption. Provide your child with a simple chart featuring the average amount of water necessary to perform everyday tasks. According to the Utah Division of Water Resources, the average American uses three gallons of water to brush his teeth. Each time the child performs a task, help him write it down on the chart. After one week, discuss how much water was used, and come up with practical ways to cut down on consumption, such as installing low-flow shower heads or cutting back on lawn waterings.
Scrub Your Hands
Use glitter to show children the importance of washing hands. The Columbus Public Health Administration's website highlights an enjoyable game called “Glitter Germs.” Pour some glitter on each child's hands. Then divide the children into two groups: soap and water users and plain water users. Instruct the children to wash their hands and point out how using soap and water is more effective to remove the glitter germs than water alone. The Columbus Public Health Administration suggests parents pour glitter onto their hands and touch the children's hair, clothing or other objects. Point out how, like germs, the glitter is easily transferred from one person or object to another.
Walking for Water
Unlike children in many impoverished countries, your kids might take their ability to simply turn on the tap when thirsty for granted. Teach your children why conservation and sanitation is so important by sending them on a search for clean water. Walk around the home and instruct the children to map out all the places where clean water is available, including taps, the tub and toilet. Put the map away and tell children all that convenience is gone, and it's up to them to find clean water. How far do the children believe they would need to travel? Go out into your neighborhood and look for sources of clean water, and point out that for many kids across the globe, this is a daily journey.