Activities at Home #2a: Grow Your Own Mold! (Grade 5 – 6)

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? What is Mold?

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 make us sick with diseases that prevent our bodies from working properly, and make a fuzzy green and white type of dangerous fungus called mold.

Just when you thought it can’t get any worse, these molds can leave toxins behind on our food that eat up at all the good nutrients and other important substances that we need to grow and stay healthy.

Lucky for us, washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water can destroy most toxins leftover from the harmful microbes that build up 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 letter “T” on the bag, (if you’re using a container, write it on tape and stick it onto one side). The “T” stands for “Toxins”.

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 into your other zip lock bag or container. Zip or close the container shut.

7) Take your marker and write the letters “NT” on the bag r container. The “NT” stands for “No Toxins”.

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 letters written on them are facing down so you can’t remember which one says “Toxins” or “No Toxins”.

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 “T” and “NT” you wrote under your bags/containers.

Which slice of bread do you think has been attacked by the toxins of bad microbes that built up on your hands before you washed them?  Which slice of bread do you think has been saved from the harmful toxins after washed your hands using soap and water to get rid of the harmful microbes?

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!

Spoilers! 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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