If you are a parent, then you know that training children to brush and floss their teeth can present all sorts of challenges! It is no easy task to master for little hands and fingers still fine-tuning motor skills and anxious to move onto the next activity within 30 seconds of starting one. Regardless, it is important for them to begin development of healthy habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun with a few little tweaks to the game!
Children tend to learn visually and audibly as they get to know the world and objects around them. Using an activity to demonstrate how a task is done not only gives them something enjoyable to do, but it can also help them translate the action into personal life skills. Try a fun approach with these little activities which will give kids a visual, hands on skill-building experience.
Scrubbing Activity using… Toys
Materials you will need:
- Dinosaur figurine (or other animal with grooves and crevices)
- Spare toothbrush
- small bowl of water
- Clean surface or tray (place mats work too!)
- Baking soda or play dough
Those tiny little hard-plastic figurines you often find yourself stepping on can prove useful for this activity! By using toothpaste rather than soap, you can keep this activity closely relateable for your kids in regards to their own teeth. Encourage them also to work within a defined space such as on a plate, tray, or place mat which will help refine motor skills.
How to scrub:
The goal here is to follow the same steps with the toy as you would to instruct your kids to brush their teeth.
- Lightly coat the toy with playdough or baking soda paste (if using baking soda, let dry)
- Dip the toothbrush into the water and assist, as needed, with toothpaste application (remember, pea-size dollop!)
- Let the kids scrub away!
- When finished dip the dinosaur into the water to rinse
While they are brushing, discuss why they are cleaning their toys and point out any stubborn bits that need a little extra scrubbing. Encourage them to check that all little crevices are clear before rinsing and drying. Create a positive experience to draw from by even referring to their teeth as little “dinosaurs” (or whatever it is you used for this activity) and ask if they thoroughly scrubbed them clean!
Flossing activity with Play dough
Materials you will need:
- Dental floss
- Megablock or large toddler “Lego” block (Use a regular Lego for older kids)
How to Floss the Dough
- Help or allow your child to put the dough between the bock pegs.
- Show them how to extract and cut the floss. Use the same amount needed for flossing their own teeth
- Demonstrate the proper flossing technique and leave them to it!
As with the brushing activity, discuss the importance of flossing and what happens when plaque (or playdough) is left between the teeth. You can even leave the block out to dry overnight to similarly show your child what happens when plaque remains between the teeth. Not such an easy mess to remove then! Having your child scoop out the play dough from between the pegs is also a great motor skill development activity. This particular activity emphasizes the importance of shaping the floss around the tooth to ensure no little bits of “plaque” are left behind.