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Why children are at higher risk

Children under the age of six are more vulnerable to toxins in general and contaminated soil in particular for several reasons:

  • Their smaller bodies mean that pound for pound, they ingest and inhale more soil than adults.
  • The blood brain barrier, which keeps toxins out of the body, is not fully developed until about age six. Learn more about the blood brain barrier at Neuroscience for Kids.
  • Young children tend to be exposed to more dirt than older children or adults. They spend more time on the ground, and often put their fingers into their mouths.

Lesson plans

Because children are at highest risk, Public Health has developed lesson plans to use in your child care facility or classroom. The lesson plans are designed for child care providers, preschool teachers and elementary school teachers. There are lesson plans for two age groups:

  • The preschool lessons are 30 minutes or less and designed for children ages 2-5. The lesson plans include handouts and materials.
  • The lesson plans for elementary school students are short, easy to teach, and include handouts, discussion questions, extended learning activities, and vocabulary. These lessons were also designed to correspond to Washington's Essential Academic Learning Requirements.

There are four lessons for each age group. These lessons cover:

  • Dirt exploration – what's in our dirt?
  • Hand-washing – fun and educational!
  • Nutrition – healthy eating helps protect us against lead and arsenic!

Childcares, preschools and elementary schools in Ecology's Soil Safety Project service areas are eligible to receive hard copies of the lesson plans and video. Please contact us at 206-477-DIRT (3478).

Otherwise, please download and print these materials.