Good hand washing is the first line of defense to help prevent the spread of many illnesses, and this time of year it's especially important to encourage this practice. You can turn even this routine task into a mindfulness activity. By asking questions and providing guidance, you can spark curiosity, practice focus and concentration, and exercise all of the senses.
How does the water feel? Is it too hot, too cold, or just right? Does it feel good running over your hands? How do the bubbles feel when you rub your hands together? Encourage kids to lather their hands, including in between their fingers, the backs of the hands, wrists, and under the nails where germs like to hide out, for at least 20 seconds.
Listen to the flow of the water, the splashing as it hits the basin, the sound of rubbing your hands together, of the soap lathering up. If you listen really closely, can you hear the bubbles pop?
How does the soap smell? If there is a scent, do you find it pleasing? Does it spark a memory of something else for you (e.g. eating oranges in the summertime with your family)?
Look at your hands before you wash them. Are they visibly dirty or have paint, marker, or pen on them? Explain that even if you can't see anything with your eyes, there are microscopic germs that can spread illness and we want to wash them away! Look at your hands after you wash them. Do they look cleaner? Are they soft and a little pruney from the water?
After hands have been thoroughly cleaned, invite kids to take a drink of water from a clean cup to "wash" their insides. How does the water taste? How does it feel as it moves to the back of the mouth, into the throat, down the esophagus, and into the belly?
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