For such a short month, February sure is busy! Black History, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, the 100th day for many, Presidents Day, and Dental Health Month make for lots of planning and celebrations.
To help you plan, I’m sharing some of my favorite Dental Health Month activities for the classroom. Many are from my Dental Health pack, but you can grab some ideas to use without the pack as well.
This year’s theme announced by the American Dental Association is Brush, Floss, Smile!
Why is children’s dental health so important? It’s not news that kids do not love to brush their teeth! For many, it’s like pulling teeth (if only they knew, right?) Fun activities that teach and reinforce proper tooth brushing can help your students develop strong oral health habits at a young age.
Kids may not realize just how important oral health is… so, one of my goals for this unit is to show them just why dental health is so important!
Here are 5 fun and engaging Children’s Dental Health Month activities you can try out in your classroom:
1. The Importance of Dental Health!
To help kids understand the importance of oral health, I like to start with an experiment (or should I say an eggsperiment!)
Experiments are great for kids because they’re hands-on, they get kids thinking, and they have a tangible visual representation at the end.
Before the experiment, we look at a tooth diagram to learn about our teeth inside and out. We compare it to an egg, hard on the outside, yet soft and fragile on the inside.
Once we establish the similarity between a tooth and an egg, we look at what might happen to your teeth if you don’t brush them before bed! All you need are eggs, water, milk, vinegar, soda, and clear cups.
- You’ll start by having students compare the egg to their teeth based on what they already know about each.
- Next, you’ll place an egg, fully submerged, in each liquid and have students make predictions as to what will happen to each egg. Then, let them sit overnight.
- Finally, have students examine and compare what happened to each egg. Have them draw conclusions based on what they found.
This eggsperiment is a great way to demonstrate just how much damage can be done to your teeth when not brushed before bed. It’s fun, hands-on, and your students are going to have a blast!
Looking for differentiated printables to help introduce this experiment, make predictions, record data, and report on conclusions? Make sure you scroll to the bottom!
2. Teach proper tooth brushing and flossing!
Okay, now that they realize that tooth-brushing is not just something us adults devised to torture them, it’s time to learn best practices for proper brushing and flossing.
Here are some fun ways to make this hands-on:
- Brush laminated teeth! Teaching the circular motion for brushing is one of the most important parts of learning to brush your teeth. You can laminate a paper printout of a tooth. Then apply toothpaste directly to the tooth and allow students to practice the circular motion with a real toothbrush! So simple and fun!
- Don’t forget to floss! If you teach preK-first grade, you may have MegaBloks or some kind of blocks that link together. Stuff Play-doh in between the “spokes” to simulate food in between teeth. Have students use yarn as floss to clean the “teeth.”
- Make this How-to Kit! For a more realistic model, grab these fun kits from Dollar Tree! Let students act out the steps to proper brushing and flossing. Read more about How-to Kits in my blog post about Procedural Writing.
Once students have acted out the steps to proper brushing and flossing, I like to have them write their own how-to book, How to Brush Your Teeth, from my Dental Health pack.
- We like to Move it, Move it! – To help reinforce proper brushing and flossing, it’s fun to bring some music into it. Blippi’s Tooth Brushing Song is always a hit! You can also encourage families to download the Aquafresh brush time app where you’ll find a song kids can play while they brush their teeth.
Check out this post if you need some tips on putting together how-to kits: Writing How-to Books in Kindergarten.
3. Make posters!
Making posters can be a fun and creative activity for students.
For older students, you can provide them with the Children’s Dental Health Month theme. This year, it’s Brush, Floss, Smile! Then let them get creative by drawing a picture and creating a slogan.
For younger students, you can provide them with a poster and ask them to color it in and add details.
You can have a poster design contest and have students vote for their favorites. The prizes can be like the prizes they’d get at the dentist’s office after a visit! My daughter loves picking out stickers and tattoos.
I also like to design and display my own Children’s Dental Health Month poster in the classroom throughout the month and you can request an official poster for Children’s Dental Health Month from the American Dental Association.
4. Earn certificates!
Kids love earning certificates and praise!
During Children’s Dental Health month, I like to introduce tooth brushing charts for my students to take home with them and keep track of their tooth brushing each day, both morning and night. Those students who successfully complete their charts earn a colorful Super Tooth Hero certificate!
Extend and incorporate dental health month fun throughout the year by providing certificates to your students whenever they lose a tooth! One of the cutest things about teaching the younger grades is watching their teeth come and go throughout the school year. It makes their speech and smiles so cute.
Check out the bundle at the end of this post for the exact printable certificates I use!
5. Play games!
Games! We all know kids (and adults) love to play games!
Here are just a few different games you can play with your students to reinforce dental health and hygiene during Children’s Dental Health Month:
- Board Games – With Crocodile Dentist, students can take turns trying to find the crocodile’s aching tooth. **Look in your local thrift store or ask families for games they have at home!
- Online Games – Colgate, one of the most popular toothpaste brands, offers multiple fun games for kids on their website.
Included in my Dental Health Pack:
- Picture Sort – Have students work in teams or time them as they sort pictures of food that is either healthy or unhealthy for our teeth.
- True or False – Have students earn the real “tooth” about teeth as they sort True and False statements.
- Plaque Attack – Play this fun sight word game. Students read the sight words on the tooth cards, get bonuses with tooth fairy cards and avoid the cavity cards.
Now, grab a picture book and get started!
There are a lot of great read-alouds you can use to introduce your dental health unit and reinforce activities. Some of my favorites are…
- How to Catch the Tooth Fairy by Adam Wallace
- Sam’s Science: I Know Why I Brush My Teeth by Kate Rowan
- Andrew’s Loose Tooth by Robert Munsch
- What if You Had Animal Teeth? by Sandra Markle
- Moose’s Loose Tooth by Jacqueline A. Clarke
If you have a favorite picture book about teeth and dental hygiene, make sure you let me know in the comments so I can check it out and add it to my list!
Dental Health Super Pack!
Looking for an all-in-one resource to help you plan and implement your dental health unit? This super-pack has 90 pages of fun ways to learn about dental health. It is a great resource to use during your whole-group or small-group dental health activities. Your students will love the experiments, games, and making their own posters!
I hope these tips help you to have a great Dental Health Month and make your planning or your dental health unit a breeze!
Remember, proper oral health starts in childhood! Help your students learn to love and care for their teeth now and it will continue on into their adulthood!
If you have fun dental health activities that your students love, please share them below!