“Brush-a, brush-a brush-a”… anytime I pick up a toothbrush I act like the sleepover scene in the movie “Grease”. This is of course before I start a refrain of “Look at me I’m Sandra Dee” in the mirror. Alright, now that I am finished embarrassing myself let’s get back to the topic at hand… Classroom Activities for Dental Health Month.
February has numerous celebrations, holidays, and recognition sprinkled throughout. When the word February is mentioned with celebrations, most tend to think about Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and even Groundhog’s Day. However, there are two celebrations that I love to talk about in the month of February: Black History Month and Dental Health Awareness.
Each stands alone on its own accord and both should be celebrated throughout the entire year, not just one month. Why? Because they both lend to healthy lives. One, having a healthy mindset. Second, having a healthy routine. I will let you decide which one is which. Here are 23 Dental Health Activities to get you and your students started this month and for the rest of the months as well!
Dental Health Activity 1 – FREE Toothbrushes
I wanted to start off this awesome list with something tangible for you and your students! Colgate has a great program for Primary Educators that offers free classroom kits! The Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® classroom kit is full of easy-to-use classroom materials, plus Colgate® toothpaste, and toothbrush samples for 24 head start, kindergarteners, or first-grade students. Sign up today to receive your free kits!
Activity 2 – Losing Teeth Writing Prompt
Another thing that you should know about me is that I find teeth extremely gross. Wiggly teeth make me queasy and teeth that fall out are just ugh! So what do my students do best? Immediately run into the room opening their mouths saying “Mr. Olson, look at my wiggly tooth” as they continue to move it back and forth! So, I do what we do as educators and make a big deal about it. What better way to allow students to tell you their loose tooth stories than to write about them!?
Activity 3 – ‘Egg-Ceptional Smiles’
Ready to show how your students can have an ‘egg-ceptional’ smile? I’m sorry, an exceptional smile? Grab these items and let your students explore in this hands-on brushing and flossing activity.
This hands-on activity for the kiddos teaches them about plaque hiding places and the importance of brushing well! Start by “brushing the teeth” using the white paint, toothbrush, and egg carton.
Once the paint is dry, it’s time to floss! Work with your students to place “plaque” (play-dough) in between each egg carton crack. Then use the yarn (floss) to remove the dough from each tooth.
Activity 4 – Egg and Toothpaste Experiment
Go Science Girls have an awesome experiment dedicated to Dental Health! All you need are eggs and a few more items that could be found in your kitchen! The objective of this experiment: To observe how the eggshell is protected by toothpaste and learn how your teeth react to acids and stains. I love to allow students to hypothesize what they believe will happen to the eggs as well as how they will look.
Dental Health Activity 5 – Healthy Teeth Fluency Passage
Education to the Core’s Fluency Reading Passages help students practice oral fluency and accuracy. They are also used to evaluate a students’ reading comprehension along with identifying the errors made. Education to the Core has put together 4 different levels of passages (Practically First, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade). Each grade level set has a mix of 10 fiction and nonfiction passages per month for a total of 120 passages for the year. You can even search by month only alongside your grade level if you are looking for specific months like February’s passages only!
Activity 6 – Brush the Tartar Away
Young students? Laminate pictures of a cut-out tooth. Draw some “plaque” on it with an expo marker. Using a real toothbrush, allow students to brush away the tartar and plaque for a clean and healthy tooth.
Make this activity academic by having the “plaque” be a letter or number. The student must brush the plaque according to the sound you made or identify the number stated.
Activity 7 – Race to Lose a Tooth: A Math Counting Game
Toddler Approved has a great math game using two pieces of pink paper, marshmallows, and dice. By rolling the dice to lose the teeth, this is the perfect subtraction math game. Feel free to adapt this game by making your own classroom rules (example: if you roll a 1 or 6 you must add teeth back) or use two dice to play with more marshmallow spaces.
Activity 8 – Magazine Collage Sort
Print off two large clip art tooth images or have your students draw and cut a large tooth on a piece of paper. Label each tooth. One labeled “Healthy Foods” and the other “Not So Healthy Foods”. Provide students with various magazines, newspapers, and online clipart opportunities. Allow students to search and find different pictures of foods. Next, students need to work together to determine which food fits each category.
Dental Health Activity 9 – Tooth ‘Eggsperiment’
Did you like the experiment in Number 4? Then you are going to LOVE this rendition! Similar steps, however this time you are using items that students may actually drink and use like orange soda and kool-aid! Allow students to record their observations with the included observational form!
Activity 10 – Snack Time!
Looking for a fun Dental Health snack that students can make themselves? How about their own grinning apples? All the students need are:
- two slices of an apple
- peanut butter
Students can spread the peanut butter (gums) onto the two apple slices (lips). Place the marshmallows (teeth) in between the two apple slices to create their very own mouth model. Upgrade your snack with pretzel stick toothbrushes.
Activity 11 – Brushing Your Teeth Sequencing
Here is a hands-on activity direct from Education to the Core’s Interactive Sequencing Centers. Allow students to arrange the pieces of the puzzle from what happens first, next, then, etc. until you end with the last piece of the puzzle.
Activity 12 – Why Do We Brush Our Teeth?
SciShow for Kids is always my ‘go-to’ Youtube channel! Check out this informative, yet short and engaging video to let your students know the importance of brushing their teeth!
Dental Health Activity 13 – I Can Take Care of My Teeth Mini-Book
“I Can Take Care of My Teeth” from Education to the Core’s No Prep Monthly Mini-Books are just perfect for whole group or small group activities! The writing prompt gives students the opportunity to make a connection and respond to the story. The writing prompt will encourage speaking and listening skills by allowing students to share their writing within their small groups.
Activity 14 – Tooth Money
Besides loose teeth, children also love talking about the “Tooth Fairy” and what the Fairy left for them. Cut out some teeth and glue or print off images of various coins on them that the Tooth Fairy left behind. Have students count them up and document them. Laminate and have students write their answers in expo marker on the tooth itself for independent/small group practice.
Activity 15 – Growing Plaque Science Experiment
Just like Virginia is for Teachers states: “This has to be one of the grossest science experiments ever… but that’s exactly why you have to try it in your classroom!” By using yeast students will see how plaque will grow and how gross it may look when sugar is added to the mixture. This is the perfect lesson to show how sugar in our mouths creates plaque too.
Activity 16 – Lego Flossing
Here is an activity similar to number 3 on this list. However, it involves one of the students’ favorite items… legos! Take a lego block and place some playdough on top sticking between the knobs. Provide your student with a piece of real dental floss and have them floss the dough out. This is a great fine motor activity for all.
Dental Health Activity 17 – 5 Senses Writing
Science lesson AND writing!?! I mean what could be a better combination? Oh yeah, just a sprinkle of health with the importance of toothpaste and dental health! This writing mat is a component from Education to the Core’s Second Grade Literacy Centers for the month of October. Or if you are looking for yearlong Math, ELA, Writing centers, activities, and more check out the bundle option as well!
Bring in a tube or multiple tubes of toothpaste into your classroom and let students explore. By using their sight allow your students to describe all aspects of the toothpaste.
Activity 18 – Teeth Brushing Chart
I had a coworker print off monthly charts for the month of February. Each day she would give the student a sticker to place on their chart that was displayed in the hallway. If they brushed their teeth before coming to school in the morning they received a sticker. She would give them another sticker if they brushed their teeth last night before going to bed. Super cute… and surprising how honest kids are.
Activity 19 – Toothpaste Slime
I don’t know why I am so obsessed with slime! I don’t even like touching it, but I just think it is so cool and the students do too! Slime is such a popular, engaging, and easy science lesson/experiment so let’s tie it into Dental Health Month too! The special thing with THIS recipe?!? Still Playing School‘s recipe looks like ACTUAL TOOTHPASTE! I even have these little tooth holders that I bought in bulk several years back and don’t know what else to do with them besides waiting for a tooth to fall. Here is my answer!
Activity 20 – Apple Cavity Experiment
Have you ever had an apple with a bruise or a small hole in it? What happened to the area surrounding the hole in the apple? Exactly, it got discolored, soft, rotten around the area, and spreads. Guess what? That’s exactly what happens with a cavity!
The hard enamel surface of your teeth protects them, much like the skin of an apple protects the fruit inside. After poking the apple with a pencil or scissor point, allow it to sit for 24 hours before exploring and cutting into it.
Dental Health Activity 21 – Readers Theatre
Readers Theatre is probably THE favorite activity for me. I love to see how creative my students get when I allow them to practice reading the script, create their own costumes and create their own scenery. Since February is the month of Dental Health Awareness, February 2nd Grade Packets have this great “Trip to the Dentist” Play and comprehension questions to go alongside the play.
Not only are your students participating in the play, able to answer the comprehension questions, but the audience listening and watching can answer them as well!
Activity 22 – Educational Websites
- Mouth Healthy
- Activities and lesson plans for educators with resources and presentations. This website offers a dental health curriculum, Smile Smarts!, for preschool through grade eight students offering flexible, modular lesson plans, support materials, hands-on classroom demonstrations, student activity sheets, and suggestions for future dental health activities.
- Delta Dental
- Ready to make your students’ and families’ Tooth Fairy experience more special? Check out Delta Dental’s Tooth Fairy Resources! Letters to and from the tooth fairy are included, activities, as well as certificates, are included on this cute and great website!
- American Dental Association
- The ADA website offers educators posters, resource guides, and tons of activities including coloring sheets and activity sheets. My favorite part of this website? That it offers all their materials in both English and Spanish!
Activity 23 – Dental Health Read Alouds
No list from Christopher Olson wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t offer a read-aloud list! My favorite activity, if you haven’t learned yet about me, is pairing a lesson and activity with a book! Check out some of these texts to add to your classroom library!
Just Going To The Dentist by Mercer Mayer (aff)
Teeth Rex Brushes His Teeth by Dee Smith (aff)
Open Wide: Tooth School Inside by Laurie Keller (aff)
The Tooth Book by Edward Miller (aff)
What If You Had Animal Teeth? by Sandra Markle (aff)
Whose Teeth Are These? by Wayne Lynch (aff)
Brush Your Teeth Please! by Leslie Mcguire (aff)
Pete the Cat and The Lost Tooth by James Dean (aff)
Bear’s Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson (aff)
How to Catch The Tooth Fairy by Adam Wallace (aff)
Whether you choose some texts or some science activities this list of 23 Classroom Activities for Dental Health Month has a little bit of everything for you! Hey, you can even take every activity off of this list and fill your entire month so no lesson planning for you this month! How amazing does that sound!? Anything I’m missing off of this Dental Health Activity list? Let me know in the comments below! Even better let’s see some pictures of your students’ hard work on some of these awesome resources and activities! Remember… “Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a”! Smile wide this month!
Written By – Christopher Olson
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