Dental Health Theme for Preschool
This Dental Health Theme page is filled with preschool activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom.
Dental Care is but one of the personal and social development learning areas for preschoolers. Preschoolers are learning about themselves as individuals, as family members and as part of their classroom group. This theme helps them to develop positive habits and skills that will last a lifetime!
Let the Dental Health Theme planning begin!
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for this Theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Materials Needed: styrofoam square shaped containers (ask for donations at a fast food place--the trays that hamburgers come in); scissors; crayons; variety of construction paper scraps; fabric scraps; yarn; glue; white foam (can use white styrofoam cups).
The children make a face on the container using the paper and fabric scraps; yarn for hair, etc. Cut teeth from the cups and glue it inside the top and bottom edges of the box.
Use the puppets by holding the box at the back adn opening and closing your hand!
Materials Needed: precut toothbrush handles on white construction paper; pieces of yarn; crayons; glue
Children decorate the handle. They then glue the yarn on as bristles.
Materials Needed: Tooth shaped stamps*, white paint; various colors of construction paper
If you don't have tooth shaped stamps, make them by cutting out tooth shapes from foam. Glue that to a wooden block!
Children dip stamps into paint and make a dental health picture.
VARIATION: Also make stamps for toothpaste tubes, tooth brushes, floss, etc.
Materials Needed: Dental floss; variety of paint colors; white paper; clothes pins (optional)
Dip the floss into paint and than drag around on the paper. Use many colors! Some children may find this easier if you use clothespins to hold the floss.
Shaving Cream Art Materials Needed: Shaving cream, paint, toothbrushes, tooth shapes on white construction paper
Mix paint in different cups of shaving cream. Children paint their teeth! (Well, their PAPER teeth!).
Clean Those Yellow Teeth!
Materials Needed: yellow contruction paper, white paint, paint brushes
After discussing why we brush our teeth, provide yellow teeth (teeth shapes cut out of yellow construction paper), white paint and toothbrushes for them to paint away!
Cut out a LARGE toothbrush (about 48 inches long; the handle should be 6 inches wide and the bristles the appropriate porportions to the handle); a variety of arts/crafts supplies (fabric, ribbon, fabric, sequins, etc.); pompoms, yarn, glitter glue, crayons, markers, etc.
The children decorate a classroom toothbrush that can be hung outside your classroom (or inside!) to introduce your Dental Health theme!
Going To the Dentist
Provide cars, a car/ road mat or carpet and little people for the children to act out driving to the dentist office, building a dentist office,etc.
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Dental Health Theme!
Materials Needed: Ask the children if they have ever been to the dentist. This is a great time for the children to learn about dental care habits from each other. Give each child a turn to share their stories. Ask questions about their visits: What did they like? Not like? Etc.
EXTENSION: Have a large piece of paper available for the children to write their names on if they have been to the dentist.
A Tooth Fell Out--Puppet Show!
Materials Needed: a puppet; the story Arthur's Loose Tooth by Lillian Hoban or other story about a loose tooth falling out!
After reading the story, bring your puppet out. Let them say hi to your puppet!
Puppet: Hi girls and boys! My name is Arthur! I heard that you read a story about me! Did you like it? What was your favorite part? (Give the children time to answer!). What happened to me in the story? That's right, I lost a tooth! Well, I wrote a poem about what happened. It goes like this:
A tooth fell out and left a space.
So big my gongue can touch my face.
And every time I smile I show
A space where something used to grow.
I miss my tooth as ou cn guess.
But then--I have to brush one less!
Have the puppet talk to the kids about being teased for missing a tooth, how it feels to be teased, etc.
Make up hand motions to go with the lines!
Up and down and all around.
That's the way I rush my teeth.
I brush my gums and shining fronts
Then I reach up underneath
I rinse my brush and place it
In my space to dry
And put the cap on the toothpaste tube
At least I try!
Then I look into the mirror and I grin
To show myself how good a brusher I've been.
Happy Tooth song and flannel Story
Flannel pieces of: a tooth shape; a tooth brush; toothpaste; glass of milk; dental floss
Place each piece on the flannel board as you sing the song.
Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
I'm a happy tooth, you see
Always taking care of me.
I am brushed every day.
Keeping clean as I play.
Eating healthy, yes I do.
Floosing daily helps me, too!
Add this to the library area after circle time.
This is one of my favorite transition activities but works for Circle Time as well!
Materials Needed: toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, toothpick, dental mirror or hand mirror--any dental health theme related items.
Place them out for the children to see and touch. Name each items. Have them close their eyes. Remove one item. They open their eyes and try to guess what is missing! Many preschoolers just can't 'not peek'! Try covering the items with a blanket, paper, towel, etc. instead and reach under to take one item out.
Draw a large smile on paper. Tape on index card teeth. Tape a picture of healthy and unhealthy foods on the back of each tooth.
Each child should come and "pull a tooth" and then tell if the food on the back is healthy or not healthy for teeth?
EXTENSION: Make a chart with 2 columns that read HEALTHY UNHEALTHY and then have them place the tooth under the correct column. Count how many foods are under each.
EXTENSION: Turn 2 small boxes into faces (tape on a drawn face). Cut out the mouths of each. Make one smiling and one sad. The children place the foods into the happy face if the food is good for you and the frowning face if it is not.
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific theme questions while making these fun snacks!
The disclaimer: PLEASE, PLEASE check files for allergies..we've had a child allergic to strawberries, another to hazel nuts (all tree nuts, actually) and yet another to egg products. It is important for you to know before doing any cooking with the children.
Ingredients and Items needed: Apples; vanilla yogurt;
Core and cut apples into quarters. Children can dip their apple smiles into yogurt for a healthy tooth snack!
Grape Yogurt Snack
Ingredients and Items Needed: fruit flavored yogurt (2 or 3 different flavors); seedless grapes; small paper cups; tablespoons; plastic knives.
Discuss with children that milk products are good for our teeth because it has something called calcium in it and that gives us strong teeth and strong bones!
The children cut up 4 grapes.
They scoop a tablespoon or 2 of each type of yogurt into their cup.
They put the grapes on top!
Dental Health Office
Have a chair, dentist tools (plastic play set), hand mirrors, folders with papers that have pictures of teeth.
Table, play telephone, clipboard, pens, pencils, dolls, stuffed animals, dental books
Tooth Themed Painting
Add tooth shaped paper to the easel.
Add old toothbrushes to the paint cups instead of paint brushes.
Materials Needed: ping pong balls, velcro, large poster board with a drawing of a large smile with the teeth showing.
Place velcro strips on the ping pong balls and the hook part on areas on the teeth on the poster board.
The children toss the balls onto the smile!
Provide old toothbrushes and a bin to toss them into.
Tape a line on the floor or carpet and encourage the children to toss them into the bin without crossing the tape line!
Drop the Brush Into the "Mouth"
One teacher had large mouth plastic containers (like juice containers) and had the children try to drop the toothbrushes into the container by holding the toothbrush about an inch or so over the opening!
Book Suggestions for the Library
Arthur's Missing Tooth by Lillian Hoban
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Crocodile and the Dentist by Taro Gomi
Going to the Dentist Anne Cirvardi
I Lost My Tooth! by Hans Wilhelm
Just Going To The Dentists by Mercer Mayer
Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth by Lucy Bate
My Dentist by Harlow Rockwell
My Tooth Is About To Fall Out by Grace Maccarone and Betsy Lewin
The Prince's Tooth Is Loose by Harriet Ziefert
Timothy Tiger's Terrible Toothache by Jan Wahl
In the above sample, they children can match the toothbrush with the corresponding color tooth face!
In the library, provide a flannel board. Have dental health flannel pieces available for them to use while reading books, singing songs you have taught them during this theme or just to use while talking about their own experiences! Have flannel pieces such as toothbrushes, teeth, toothpaste, toothpaste cap, floss, healthy foods, dentist, dentist chair, etc.
Lace A Tooth
Materials Needed: Tooth shapes cut out of colored poster board; colored laces, hole punch
If you don't have tooth shape lacing cards, make them! Cut out a tooth shape from colored poster board. Hole punch around the edges. Provide laces with a knot in one end.
Provide other dental health items as lacing cards such as floss shapes, toothpaste, etc.
Materials needed: pictures of different types of teeth--2 pictures of each (shiny, rotted, yellow, chipped, molars, front teeth,etc.). Glue the pictures onto poster board and laminate for durability.
The children match the pictures.
How Many Teeth?
Materials Needed: Hand mirrors, paper, crayon or marker. Let them try and count how many teeth they have!
EXTENSION: Have a paper with each child's name on it (or, encourage them to write their own names). Have number cards. Encourage them to write the number of teeth they have on top on their paper. Post on a chart of How Many Teeth in your classroom.
Tooth Making and Counting
Make a drawing of an open mouth with squares for teeth as pictured above; playdough
I'm not sure where we got this playdough mat from, but you could make your own!
Have children use playdough to make teeth and place one tooth in each square. Encourage them to count the teeth. This provides great fine motor practice, counting practice and one-to-one correspondence practice!
Dental Health--How Many Teeth?
Materials Needed: pink playdough and small craft sticks
Have children manipulate playdough into an oval shape. Give them each 20 small craft sticks. Tell them that children have 20 teeth, called baby (or decidious) teeth. They then count out and place 20 sticks into their playdough gums!
Adults have 32 adult teeth, including wisdom teeth! Perhaps they would like to count to 32!
Brush Your Teeth Song sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Brush, brush, brush your teeth,
Brush the germs away!
Happy, healthy teeth you'll have,
By brushing everyday!
Floss, floss, floss your teeth,
Floss the germs away.
Happy, healthy gums you'll have,
By flossing every day!
Healthy Teeth Song sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Eat, Eat healthy foods
Eat some every day
If you do, "I Love You"
is what your teeth would say!
Brush, brush, brush your teeth.
Brush them every day!
Brush the fronts and brush the backs
And clean your teeth will stay!
Visit, Visit, Visit the dentist,
two times every year!
The dentist helps your teeth stay healthy
So you can smile from ear to ear!
EXTENSION: The 3 things children can do to keep their teeth healthy are in this song: eat healthy foods, brush and visit the dentist! Make up your own certificate that says "Ask Me What 3 things I can do to keep my teeth healthy! I KNOW!" Print their name and sign and date it from you! Send them home!
Got My Toothpaste Song sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Got my toothpaste, got my brush,
I won't hurry, I won't rush.
Making sure my teeth are clean,
Front and back and in between.
When I brush for quite a while,
I will have a happy smile!
I'm a Tube of Toothpaste!
For this movement activity, ask the children what they think it would be like to be a tube of toothpaste? A toothbrush? Floss?
Have these items to show them and let them hold them.
Then, act them out!
Example: A tube of toothpaste! OK, you're in the tube...way at the bottom! Now, you're being squished, up, up, up and POOF out of the tube!
How to Brush
Materials Needed: shaving cream; plastic mouth models OR egg carton cups (3 or 4 still connected); toothbrushes
Show children how to brush in the front, back and in between "teeth".
This smells like toothpaste!
Add peppermint, strawberry or orange food extract to your water table!
Add toothbrushes to your water table. Add small baby dolls that are smiling to brush teeth! Or, add the foam egg cartons and pretend they are alligator teeth for them to brush (and scoop water with!).
Dental Health Tooth Experiment
Materials Needed: white egg (cracked, emptied and washed out with soap...keep both halves of the shell); soda (Coca-Cola works best); 2 clear jars; a toothbrush; toothpaste.
Discuss the importance of toothbrushing. Give each child a hand mirror and ask what they see when they look at their teeth. Write down what they say.
Ask them why we brush our teeth and again, write down what they say.
Tell them that cavities are caused by not brushing the sugar and food off of our teeth. Soda has a lot of sugar in it.
Place one egg shell in one jar and the other in another jar.
Add Cola to one jar...pour in enough to cover the egg shell. Tell the children this is like someone's tooth. They are drinking soda.
Add water to the other...pour in enough to cover the egg shell.
Let sit for the day. Ask the children what they think will happen. You can record their answers to this as well.
After the day, check on the egg shells.
Take the egg out of the water and ask them what happened. Record their answers.
Take the egg out of the cola, ask them what happened. Record their answers.
Now, take the toothbrush and toothpaste and gently brush the egg shell (careful-it is very fragile now!) and ask the kids what happened when you brushed the pretend tooth?
Record their answers!
VARIATION: Thanks, Pam, for this suggestion!
Use 2 clear cups, 2 eggs, vinegar, cola, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a magnifying glass.
Soak an egg in a cup of cola and a second one in vinegar.
Overnight the eggs will turn brown and the other one will lose it's shell.
The cola one can show what happens if you don't brush (It will come off with a toothbrush and toothpaste).
The second one shows that if the acid continually builds up in your mouth, it will decalcify, just like the egg.
Dental Health Tile Food Experiment
Materials needed: ceramic tiles (you can get donations of broken ones from a home improvement store); mustard, honey, ketchup, toothbrush, toothpaste
Tell them, " Sometimes we are too tired or forget to brush our teeth before we go to bed. I wonder what would happen to our teeth if we forgot to brush for a lot of days! Let's find out!"
Give each child a tile. Have them write their name on the tile with a permanent marker. Squirt a little bit of the food items on their tile.
Have them spread it all over the tile. Tell them that you are going to let this food sit on the "teeth" for a day and see what happens.
Then, take out the tile you made yesterday and show them what happened to your "tooth". Let them take a turn trying to brush off the food with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The next school day, take out the chilren's tiles and give them a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush their teeth in the science center.
Materials Needed: 1 hard boiled egg; glass jar; white vinegar
Tell the children that some foods are what we call "acidic" and can hurt the enamel of our teeth.
Place the egg in a jar and pour in enough vinegar to cover the egg.
Let sit for 24 hours. Children should observe it throughout the day. They will see small bubbles forming on the eggshell.
The next day, take out the egg and rinse it. A lot of, if not all of, the eggshell will be gone. The vinegar is an acid that decalsifies the egg shell much like acids in food do on our teeth.
Home Made Toothpaste
Materials Needed: zipper baggies, plastic teaspoons, baking soda, salt, water, food flavoring extract (strawberry or orange).
Make rebus directions (explained below) for making toothpaste.
Once children add the ingredients to their baggie, zip the baggie and have the children squish the ingredients until well mixed.
They can taste it and YES, brush with it!
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 drop of food flavoring
Rebus directions are picture directions that allow the children to "read" the print by "reading" the pictures!
Use 5 large index cards. Draw one step on one card.
Card one will have a picture of a baggie. Print on bottom "Open bag."
Card two will have 1 teaspoon traced on it. Print on bottom "Add 1 teaspoon"
Continue for all steps!
The children can then go from one step to the next to make their toothpaste by themselves (observed/supervised by you of course!).
Tooth Brushing Thank you, Pam, for the following 2 ideas!
Use the bottom of liter soft drink bottle cut off and painted white. Provide old toothbrushes to practice brushing!
Paint one side of an egg carton to look like teeth and gum.
Use string to practice flossing!
Tooth tracing and Dental Health Words
Materials needed: Provide tooth shapes (made on cardboard or manilla folders for durability); markers or colored pencils; scissors; dental health word cards (such as index cards with the words and pictures on them of: TOOTH, DENTIST, CAVITY, BRUSH, etc.).
The children trace and cut out their teeth. They can decorate with markers or colored pencils and write words on it as well!
Materials Needed: Tooth shapes you have cut out and laminated; low-odor dry erase markers
Provide these materials at your writing table. Encourage the children to write their names, draw, etc. They can erase their writing with a facial tissue and use over and over again!
Yup, you knew it was coming! Visit the dental office! If you can not arrange this with your group, invite a pedodontic dentist or hygienist to visit your center. Offer for them to give you brochures about their office so that you can sent them home with the children (free advertising for them!).
Encourage children to brush their teeth by printing and sending home a chart. For a chart you can print out CLICK HERE
EXTENSION: Call the chart "homework" and ask that they bring it back completed in a week!