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The Montessori Hand Washing Lesson

Montessori hand washing 101

There are few life skills we need more than the ability to wash our hands. Along with being essential to a child’s health and well-being, Montessori hand washing is also a great Practical Life activity and lends itself to cosmic education questions!

Though there are accepted standards when it comes to hand washing practices, there are various methods you can use to teach your child this basic hygiene practice. You can work with your child on this skill at a sink in your home or set up a hand washing activity tray for them.

Hand washing for kids graphic

At the sink

For those who don’t use toy/activity shelves in their child’s learning and play spaces, or for those who are not keen on having water activities away from a sink area, teaching hand washing at a sink is your best bet.

To teach your child hand washing at the sink, you will need:

  • A climbable stool
  • Hand soap
  • Hand towel

To demonstrate this activity, you need to have your child climb and stand on the stool so they can watch you. Turn the warm water on and wet your hands.

"Hand Washing for kids" image of a hand covered with cartoon germs.

After lathering with soap, slowly and methodically wash your hands. After you are done, hang up the hand towel and invite your child to try. Here are some points of interest to discuss:

  • Why we should wash our hands. (The benefit to ourselves, families, and communities.)
  • Why we should be mindful of our water use.
  • Ways to curb our water use while washing our hands.

Activity tray

If you don’t have a proper stool in your kitchen or bathroom but your little one is ready to learn this nifty (and fun…any activity with water involved is fun for kids) skill, setting up a handwashing activity tray is a great alternative.

Also, presenting the lesson as a Montessori activity with an accessible tray allows for your child to repeat the activity at their convenience without turning your bathroom or kitchen into a swimming pool.

To teach Montessori hand washing as a shelf activity tray, you’ll need:

  • Tray
  • Large bowl
  • Soap dispenser or bar soap & dish
  • 2 hand towels
  • Pitcher for warm water

For this activity, as well as any other tray activity, it’s important that you take into consideration your child’s dominant hand if one has been established. Here are the steps to presenting this nifty activity:

  1. Fill the bowl halfway with water and put it on the side of the tray of your child’s dominant hand.
  2. Wet your hands in the bowl and lather soap on them, placing the soap back in its place.
  3. Rinse your hands in the water and dry them with one of the hand towels.
  4. Replace the dirty water with clean water from the pitcher and invite your child to try.

As you demonstrate each step for your child, make sure you move slowly and clean/dry each part of your hands. This give your child a chance to see exactly what you are doing and it give the child a chance to ask any questions they might have.

Some great points of interest you can discuss are:

  • Why it is important to replace the water after we wash.
  • Why it is important that we keep our hands clean. (How it benefits us, our families, and even our communities and beyond.)

Remember that with hand washing, just like every other action, it is important to set a good example for your child. Remember to allow your child to see you wash your hands before cooking and eating and after you use the toilet throughout each day.

Hand doing a thumbs up.

Also, when your child has success at hand washing, how you react to their achievement is very important. You can read more about what not to say, and what to say instead, here!

Cheers and don’t forget to subscribe!

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