Activities at Home #2a: Grow Your Own Mold! (Grade 3 – 4)

Greetings Museum of Health Care Friends! In light of ongoing efforts to limit the transmission of COVID-19, this activity has been modified from the original version for offsite, home use. (Normally, this activity is completed as part of the “Snot & Whatnot” education program offered at the Museum of Healthcare at Kingston.)

Learning Outcomes:

Students will learn the importance of frequent handwashing by contrasting the production of mold on an object exposed to bacteria present on their hands throughout the course of a typical day, compared to the rate of mold production on an object exposed to recently washed hands. Students will also learn the importance of tracking the frequency of handwashing throughout their day-to-day routines.

Pre-Activity: What are Microbes?

A long time ago scientists learned that the germs on our hands are made of tiny living organisms called microbes. Some microbes are good, but watch out for the bad microbes! They can give us diseases that stop our bodies from working normally, and make a fuzzy green and white fungus on our food called mold that eats up at all the good nutrients that we need to grow and stay healthy.

Lucky for us, washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water can fight off all the bad germs that get on our hands. Use the supplies below to grow your own mold using only the germs on your hands! 

Activity: Grow Your Own Mold!

Supplies Your Will Need

  • 2 slices of bread (use stale bread OR the end of the loaf to avoid waste)
  • 2 zip lock bags OR reusable containers
  • 1 marker


1) During an afternoon, softly press your hand flat onto 1 slice of bread.

2) Put that slice of bread into 1 zip lock bag or container. Zip or close the container shut.

3) Take your marker and write the letters “BM” on the bag, (if you’re using a container, write it on tape and stick it onto one side). The “BM” stands for “Bad Microbes”.

4) Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

5) After you wash your hands, softly press your hand flat onto your other slice of bread.

6) Put that slice of bread the other zip lock bag or container. Zip or close the container shut.

7) Take your marker and write the letters “GM” on the bag or container. The “GM” stands for “Good Microbes”.

8) Take both bags or containers and put them in a very dark closet. Remember where you put them!

9) Make sure the side of the bags or containers with the “GM” and “BM” are facing down so you can’t remember which one says “Good Microbes” or “Bad Microbes”

So whats next?

Now it’s time to watch! For another 2 weeks, check on your slices of bread to see if any green or blue colors start showing without looking at the labels “GM” and “BM” you wrote under your bags/containers.

Which slice of bread do you think has been attacked by the bad microbes that have built up on your unwashed hands? Which slice of bread do you think has been saved from the bad microbes by the soap and water you used to wash your hands? Check the other side of the bags/containers to see if you were right!

*Remember: mold can be very dangerous to breath in. Try to refrain from opening your containers and remember to thoroughly wash out your reusable container!

Need Help? Here’s our example!

Washed Hands vs. Unwashed Hands. Gross!

Explore similar education activities, discover highlights of museum artefacts, and sign up for an onsite education program by clicking the link here!

About the Authour

Meaghan McDougald

(Public Programs Assistant, Summer 2020)

Meaghan recently completed an undergraduate degree in history at Queen’s University, with plans to return to Queen’s in the fall to begin her Bachelor’s of Education! Her main areas of interest include the history of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the history of psychiatric medicine. Meaghan’s experience of quarantine during the COVID19 pandemic has allowed her to expand her cooking skills, and discover the many hiking locations that Kingston and the surrounding region has to offer.

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