ImagineIF Libraries

Storytime: Germs

March 27, 2024, By in Early Literacy.

Page header reading "Storytime" with the ImagineIF Libraries logo, surrounded by cute cartoon animals.

The Youth Services team at ImagineIF Libraries plans and implements early literacy programs for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in Kalispell, Bigfork, and Columbia Falls. Our goal in every Storytime is to connect with young children and their caregivers through books, songs, and interactive activities that foster early literacy and social emotional skills.

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This storytime was half public service announcement, half hand-washing how-to, and all fun! We sang, we danced, we conducted germ simulations, and we all walked away a little more excited about washing our hands.

Books Read:

Book cover of Germs Are Not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick Book cover of Do Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak Book cover of Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo by E.S. Redmond

Germs Are Not for Sharing
by Elizabeth Verdick
ISBN: 9781575421971

Do Not Lick This Book
by Idan Ben-Barak
ISBN: 9781250175366

Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo
by E.S. Redmond
ISBN: 9780763634445

Songs & Interactives:

Sneeze Spread!
Holding up a laminated photo of a face, fake a big sneeze and spray water through a little hole. The water will mist a lot of kids—who will shriek in disgust! So, what do we do? Cover our sneeze!
We also guessed how fast sneezes travel—faster than you can run, faster than a grown up, even faster than a car!

Glitter Germs
Fake sneeze into your hand, then dip in a plate of glitter (“germs”). Try to wipe it off on your pants, but the glitter germs are still there! Give a kid a high five—and now they have glitter on their hands, too. Look how far those germs spread!
The goal is for caregivers to have a funny visual to refer back to when reminding kiddos to wash hands and not share germs.

Photo of a stack of hands, one adult and three child, covered with golden glitter. Photo of a hand and globby green "germs" made out of felt and stuck to a flannel board.

Flannelboard: Hand Washing
Felt hand and green germs with googly eyes.
We talked about washing our hands with soap and water to get rid of germs. How do we keep washing for the whole 20 seconds it takes to kill germs? By singing! So we danced and sang the ABC song while scooping away green felt germs one by one.
We also tried Lucy Knisley’s hand-washing song to the tune of “Frère Jacques.”


Photo of a hand with a pool of white lotion in the palm. The hand is holding a small black flashlight. Dark photo of a hand under UV light, with a glowing substance on the palm.

Glow-in-the-Dark Germs
Our Health Department provided us with Glo Germ lotion, which simulates germs that are invisible except under a special UV flashlight. Kids got to spread the lotion, then go with their grown-up into a dark space and see the glow with the flashlight. Then the challenge is to wash your hands well enough that all the glowing bits are gone when you check again!
Most kids got “clean” after two washes. Caregivers appreciated seeing where the washing blind spots tend to be.

Dramatic Play: Bakery
Baking toys at the market stall for some social collaborative fun.

STEAM: Building Blocks
Unit blocks, toy cars, and small figures for building and imaginative play.

Sensory Play: Dish Washing and Soap Suds
Kids played with a huge foam sponge in a low-sided sensory tub. A bit of water and bubble bath, plus lots of squishing, makes wonderful thick bubbles.
A deeper tub became the kitchen sink, with warm water, soap, sponges, and toy plastic dishes to scrub clean.

Photo of children playing in a tub of soapy water, "washing" toy plastic dishes. A second tub full of towels is the drying station.

Much appreciation and credit for this storytime theme goes to previous employee and storytime extraordinaire Ann Brooks, and also to the awesome librarian and microbiologist behind the blog Adventures in Storytime (And Beyond)!

Our job is to provide free and open access to books and information. With hands-on activities and experiences for all ages, we work to transform vision, dreams and desires into reality.

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