Monday, February 14, 2011

"Do germs have feet?"

I think it was a couple weeks ago at lunch that Bean was regarding a spoon left on the table from breakfast and asked "what does 'dirty' mean?"

I explained to him that it basically meant there was "stuff" on it, and it needed to be washed.  True to form, he responded "why?"  I told him that there were tiny little things - little animals - called "germs" on everything, and we washed things so the germs wouldn't be able to grow so much that they made us sick.  He was so perplexed and curious.  I told him we can't see them, usually, but we could gather them and let them grow and see what a whole lot of them looked like.  He asked, "do they have feet?"  I chuckled and told him no.

That night, as The Beast snuggled him to sleep, he asked again, "Do germs have feet?"  And, of course, The Beast answered "No.  Germs don't have feet." 

And Bean thought for a moment and asked, "then how do they move?" 

The Beast answered, "they kind of.....wiggle."

"Like a snake?"

"Yeah.  Kind of like a snake."

And off to sleep Bean went.

On Friday, we finally started growing our germs!  I started with the "Growing Germs" activity here.  I really like the idea of the first project described there ("How do germs spread?"), but I think that's for another day (probably a day a few years from now).  My goal is to demonstrate the existence of germs - not create a hand-washing mania!

A friend stopped by early in the week and brought us some latex gloves.  That was Bean's favorite part of this activity.  From the very beginning, he kept asking if he could "keep these as a toy."  I'm not really sure how much of the rest of it he understood or even cared about as long as he got to keep the gloves. 

So here's what we did!

I laid out everything we needed:
-1 potato
-4 ziploc bags (these are the same bags we used for the alphabet bags)
-cutting board
-knife (with strict instructions to Bean that he was not to touch it until I could help him!)
-permanent marker

I labeled the bags "Hands,"  "Dirt/Snow," "Door knob," and "Control."  This was actually a pretty fun step for Bean, since he's so much into phonics and what letter words start with.  He told me (correctly!) what letter all of the words start with ("Hands,""Dirt," "Snow," "Door," and "Control."  Then I spelled them out loud as I wrote them on the bags.

At that point, we put on our gloves and I quartered the potato (Bean helped, with the instruction that he was not to touch the metal part - only the black handle).  He plunked one quarter directly into the bag marked "Control."

Then I asked him which door knob he wanted to gather germs from and told him to go rub a piece of potato on the one he chose.

He wasn't keen on going outside to put the potato in the dirt and snow, so I did that and plunked the potato in the bag marked "Dirt/Snow."  When I came back, we took off our gloves and he rubbed his hands all over the fourth piece of potato and (surprise) plunked that in the bag marked "Hands."

We put all four bags in a cooler, put that on top of the fridge, and we'll check up on them this week!

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