Habits that Keep You Healthy: Wash Your Hands!

Habits that Keep You Healthy: Wash Your Hands!
Mary Lincoln: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One to two class periods


Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln had four children—only one of them lived to maturity.  Diseases spread rapidly and took many lives.  One of the challenges in staying alive was avoiding infection.  At the time, there were very few medications.  Those who survived were either lucky or increased their odds of survival by practicing good hygiene.


Students will realize the importance of good hygiene in the promotion of health.  

Materials Required:

Computer Internet access Word processor (or paper and writing utensil) Coloring utensils (or computer art program)


1. Introduce students to basic hygiene and health practices, like washing hands before eating, covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing, and getting rest when they are ill.
2. Explain to students that our nation has come a long way in our method of viewing disease transmission.  We now recognize how germs are spread, etc.  Much of what we know now helps to prevent the spread of diseases like those that killed three of the Lincoln children.
3. Depending on the grade and ability level of your students, have them draw pictures, make posters, design computer graphics demonstrating their understanding of healthy hygiene.
For example:

  • Have students describe three good hygiene habits that keep them healthy.
  • Tell students to describe step-by-step the proper way to complete a hygiene or health practice like washing hands.

Extending the Lesson:

  • Display the student’s work throughout the school to promote wellness among students.
  • Allow each student to show the class thier final project.

Sources & Resources:

Websites: Credits:
This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University