Food and Beverages - Safe Food Practices

Hand Washing: Grades 3 - 4

Creating Your Own Germs

Students learn about different types of bacteria, their shapes and are able to use modeling clay to create their own bacteria.


  • Chart with bacteria shapes and description (provided below)
  • 2 cups flour (500ml)
  • 1 cup salt (250ml)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (15ml)
  • 1 cup hot water (250ml)
  • Food colouring, powdered or liquid paint

Lesson Description:

  1. Show students the chart with the magnified germs and what illnesses or diseases are spread by each type of germ.
  2. Tell students that all the germs on the chart are actually called bacteria. Bacteria and viruses are the most common germs that cause illness and disease.
  3. Have students mix modelling compound from the ingredients listed above and create their own bacteria shapes based on those from the chart.
  4. Discuss how bacteria, although so small that they can't be seen, are all over hands and under the fingernails just like the modelling clay.
  5. Have students demonstrate proper hand washing technique when washing off the modelling clay.

Find magnified pictures of viruses and discuss common illnesses that can be caused by viruses. Also discuss the concept of beneficial bacteria and viruses that don't make people sick, like bacteria used to make yogurt and cheese.

Have students make models of the different types of bacteria.

Magnified Bacteria and What They Do

Name of Bacteria What It Looks Like Where It's Found What It Does

Escherichia coli


In the stomachs of animals, especially cattle and humans.

Causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Can have serious complications.

Staphylococcus aureus


On human skin, in the nose and in the throat.

Commonly causes skin and wound infections. Also causes pimples.

Salmonella enteritidis


In the stomachs of animals, especially chickens and humans.

Causes diarrhea and vomiting. One of the most common causes of food poisoning.

Streptococcus pyogenes


In the throats and noses of humans.

Very common cause of sore throats. Can also cause skin infections.

Source: Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Health Unit. Down With Germs - An educational kit to promote handwashing in schools.

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Revised: Wednesday November 23 2011

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