Sticky Fingers

By Staff Writer, Laura e. Crook

Cold and flu season is upon us, and there’s nothing worse than being sidelined by a head cold or a nasty case of the flu. While some folks may relish a day or two on the couch watching soap operas, we’re guessing you have things to do, people to see, and children to educate!

Tips and tricks to keep you (and your classroom!) healthy this year:

1. Wash your hands
I know, I know, this is number one on everyone’s tip list. You probably have posters all over your classroom about the benefits of hand washing, but it bears repeating. Washing your hands often and thoroughly prevents the spread of disease.

Repetition leads to habit, and habit leads to behavior. Make it a game! Sing a song like “Happy Birthday” or a couple verses of “Oh Susanna!” with your students while they’re washing their hands before snack time, after recess or after using the restroom.

2. Use soap versus hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is great in a pinch, but surprisingly, killing 99% of bacteria isn’t always a good idea. Our bodies need wimpy bacteria to build up a defense against beefy bacteria (Source). Hand sanitizer is useful if there’s no water around, but it’s important to educate kids on the benefits of using good, old-fashioned soap and water to clean their hands.

Speaking of soap… antibacterial soap sounds fancy, but studies show that it has the same effect as ordinary soap. Use the money you saved in your classroom budget to buy something fun for your students!

3. Keep tissues handy
Let’s be honest: kids aren’t always great at remembering to blow their noses or sneeze into tissues. Keeping several boxes of facial tissue in your classroom reminds kids not to use their hands (or their sleeves) to wipe their nose. If there are no tissues to be found, encourage kids to sneeze into their elbow instead of their hands.

Teaching kids to throw their tissues away (instead of sticking it in their pocket to gross out their sister), and wash their hands is a huge step in developing healthy habits!

4. Vitamin C is your friend
Vitamin C is helpful for more than just keeping 18th century sailors from contracting scurvy. Vitamin C (found in citrus fruits like oranges) is a great way to boost your immune system.

Include citrus treats like orange slices or clementines with your classroom snack. Fruit juice is another great way to get vitamin C—remember to look for 100% fruit juice to avoid extra sugar or other additives.

5. Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect
Soap and water may work best for tiny hands, but disinfectant is a-okay for hard surfaces like tables, chairs, doorknobs, and even toys! Disinfect your classroom or play area each night to dispose of any lingering germs.

Worried about the effects of bleach in close proximity to your little ones? Search the Internet for eco friendly cleaning solutions. has a great recipe for homemade disinfectant spray.

If you’re not interested in a DIY project, keep your eye out for Seventh Generation products. They’re natural, non-toxic, and smell better than bleach!

Do you have any tricks or tips to keep your classroom healthy during cold and flu season? We want to hear from you! Leave us a comment, find us on Facebook, or send us a tweet @freefieldtrips.

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