Whenever I think of dental health, or even going to the dentist I can’t help but humming this tune… “When you wake up in the morning and it’s quarter to one… you brush your teeth.” It was seriously a childhood favorite song of mine, along with pretty much every other Raffi song.
My students love learning about dentists and dental health. It’s one of my favorite topics to include in February lessons for Dental Health month. I think it’s probably because they are SO excited to be getting wiggly teeth. It’s also something they are used to taking care of (for the most part). They have some background knowledge so everything else they learn about teeth is super relevant!
I am always a fan of topics that get you lots of bang for your buck.
If you want to teach your students in a fun way about dental health, you can also incorporate many different early learning skills along the way such as :
*Determining the meaning of content specific vocabulary
*Fine motor skills
*Reading Informational Text
*Science and Observations
Here are 6 of my favorite Dental Health Lessons and Activities
All About Dentists
This is a great topic for dental health week as well as community helper units. I have ordered a few sets of books in the past about community helpers and health through Scholastic that had some great resources for learning about dentists.
You could also have a dentist or hygienist come to visit your class and students could use that information as a resource for writing.
Whenever I can take a high interest topic like teeth and get kids researching, I never let that opportunity pass by.
Content Specific Dental Health Vocabulary Exploration:
Using vocabulary word cards with dental health pictures on them can help you to illustrate and introduce vocabulary. Cards like these can also help students to identify the meaning of words in the text that they hear read to them or read themselves. With access to content vocabulary students can also be empowered to use these words in their own writing.
One other thing you can do with the vocabulary cards is to either create your own words/ definitions for books that you’re reading, or even using the cards that I have created, you can cut the picture away from the word and have students think about what they think the words mean prior to writing. This would sort of be like a sort. Then as they read or listen , they can adjust to correct the words and the pictures that go along with them. This is a great way to have students actively make meaning during vocabulary activities.
Tooth Fairy Tips
This is a fun way for students to write to tell the dental health tips they have learned in somewhat of a craftivity format.Doing the cutting and folding and coloring are all great fine motor tie ins for this sort of literacy activity. It’s definitely a student favor!
While you’re at it, you could also include a narrative prompt like this one! Kids love to use their imaginations and there are a number of stories that can help get their brains thinking!
Dental Health Science and Observations:
This is one of my favorite activities! It’s the good old hard boiled egg in cola experiment where students can see what the cola does to the shell of the egg. You can also demonstrate brushing the egg and using different liquids for different eggs.
If you don’t want to actually get the egg out, you could do the next activity instead (or in addition to!)
Firstly let me say… I know painting can be messy. But I really think it’s so good for kids! I like to print a tooth template (included here) on brown paper and then have students use white paint to paint the tooth with paintbrushes. Even if you just have an art station they could even just create whatever painting they’d like exploring the sensory and motor involvement of painting with toothbrushes. How is it the same and different from using typical toothbrushes.
Early Reader- Taking Care of Teeth Emergent Reader
This taking care of teeth reader is great because it is accessible to young readers and includes resources for vocabulary as well as follow up comprehension. I also love that printable emergent readers can be distributed to all students (no need to share). They can be colored by students, and they can also be taken home or added to student book boxes to be used again and again!
I also love that these types of resources can be created (like this one was) with differentiated versions of the same text to meet the needs of your students. Get the emergent reader here! (or on tpt here)