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KS3: Hand Hygiene

In this lesson plan, students learn how microbes can spread from one person to another by touch and why it is important to wash hands properly.

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Learning objectives
All students will:
  • Understand that infection can be spread through unclean hands
  • Understand that sometimes microbes can make us ill
  • Understand how, when, and why to wash their hands
  • Understand that handwashing can prevent the spread of infection
Most students will:
  • Understand why we should use soap to wash our hands
  • Understand that prevention of infection, where possible, is better than cure
Background Information

Our hands are naturally covered by useful bacteria – Staphylococcus is a common example. However, we can pick up harmful microbes from the things we touch. Hand hygiene is possibly the single most effective way of reducing and preventing the spread of these microbes and any associated infection.

Schools and community groups are a relatively crowded and closed environment where microbes can spread easily and rapidly via direct contact or surfaces. Some of these microbes can be harmful and cause illnesses. Washing our hands with soap and water at key moments removes any harmful microbes we pick up on our hands from our surroundings. Effective hand washing has been shown to reduce absenteeism rates in schools.

In this lesson plan, students conduct an experiment to identify the importance of washing their hands on the growth of microbe colonies. They will also learn how hand hygiene affects those around them and reduces the transmission of microbes that could cause illness.

Main activity:
  • Hand shaking experiment
Main Activity video
Extension activities:
  • Stomach bug chain of infection
  • Hand washing poster
  • Hand hygiene quiz
Curriculum links


  • Working scientifically
  • Biology


  • Health and prevention


  • Reading
  • Writing
Supporting Materials
Teacher sheets
KS3 Hand hygiene teacher guidance
KS3 Hand hygiene- hand shaking - video transcript
Student worksheets
SW1-2 Hand shaking experiment
SW3 Hand hygiene quiz
Student handouts
SH1 The Chain of infection poster
SH2 Breaking the chain of infection
SH3 Handwashing poster