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Wash Your Hands!

Celebrates Global Handwashing Day on 15 October

by Janice Ross (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1


To increase awareness of the importance of washing our hands with soap to prevent the spread of diseases.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need an apron, a white board (or large, white piece of paper), a bowl of warm water, soap, a white hand towel and some paper towels. Ensure that you have visibly ‘dirty’ hands at the start of the assembly.

  • You will also need another staff member or volunteer to take part in the role play and demonstrate a good hand-washing technique.

  • Visit for some useful suggestions for further activities.


  1. First, perform the following role play.

    Wearing the apron, enter the room with very obviously ‘dirty’ hands. Wipe your hands on your apron, go to write on the whiteboard (or paper) and leave a dirty splodge and then say, ‘Oh no!’ Put your hands on your cheeks and, again, leave dirty marks.
    Ask the other staff member or volunteer to bring in the bowl of warm water and the other materials listed above.
    Say, ‘Excuse me, children, I must just wash my hands before I start.’
    Dip your hands quickly in and out of the bowl of water, dry them on the white towel, making it very dirty, and then say, ‘Oh no!’ in a surprised voice.

    The other staff member or volunteer says, ‘No, no, no! That’s not the way we wash our hands, is it, children?’ The staff member or volunteer should then demonstrate a good handwashing technique, saying something like, ‘Now the proper way to wash your hands is with soap and water.’

    You watch carefully before saying, ‘Now I remember!’

  2. Being yourself again, explain to the children that a quick dip in and out of water is not really the way you should wash your hands. You need warm water and soap to do the job properly.
    Look around at the children as you say, ‘I wonder how many hands here just get a quick dip and not a proper wash.’
    Ask the children to think about all the times when we need to wash our hands with warm water and soap.

  3. Read the following poem, inviting the children to join in with the chorus.

    Water and soap,
    Water and soap,
    I only hope
    There’s warm water and soap!

    For my hands are dirty,
    I’ve been painting, you see,
    Fireworks and rockets
    Shooting over the trees.

    Water and soap . . .

    For my hands are dirty,
    I’ve been playing, you see,
    With tractors and fire engines
    As busy as a bee.

    Water and soap . . .

    For my hands are dirty,
    I’ve been gardening, you see,
    Digging and lifting
    Potatoes for tea.

    Water and soap . . .

  4. Note how, as it says in the poem, our hands do get very dirty when we have been painting, or playing on the floor with cars and tractors, or working in the garden. It is important to wash our hands after all of these activities.

  5. Explain that it is usually easy to see dirt, but we can’t see germs. Explain that germs are the tiny bugs that hide in dirty things around us and sometimes spread illnesses like tummy upsets.
    Go on to explain that there is a time when we can pick up these germs very easily and can even pass them on to someone else. That time is when we go to the toilet. Impress on the children that it is very, very important to wash our hands properly after going to the toilet.
    Now read the last verse of the poem.

    For my hands are dirty,
    From the toilet, you see,
    They might look quite clean
    But there are germs you can’t see!

    Water and soap . . .

Time for reflection

Ask one of the children to come up and demonstrate how to wash their hands correctly. The rest of the children should reflect on how important this simple activity is.

Dear God,
Thank you for clean water and soap to wash our hands with.
Please help us to remember how we can stay safe from germs.


‘Water of life’ (Come and Praise, 2)

Publication date: October 2016   (Vol.18 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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