Who wants to learn about oral hygiene? Nobody.
How are you supposed to design a fun lesson about brushing your teeth?
This week’s program was inspired by a trip down into the museum’s collection storage rooms. We found a sawfish plastron, a shark jaw, a nice piece of whale baleen, and a wooly mammoth tooth that someone had found and shellacked a hundred years ago. Comparing the mammoth’s ribbed grinding molar to the shark’s rows of pointy shredders to the hairy baleen led into natural conversations about animal adaptations among herbivores and carnivores. We pointed out the rows and rows of shark teeth, and talked about how their teeth are relatively disposable compared to ours – we only get two sets, so we’d better take care of the ones we’ve got!
To jazz up the lesson, we ordered a pack of cheap toothbrushes and some “dental disclosing tablets” that highlight the plaque that you’ve missed while brushing.
The kids brushed their teeth normally, chewed and spat out the tablets of pink dye, rinsed, and then shrieked at the pink splotches between their teeth.
They loaded up with more toothpaste and kept coming back for inspections until their pearly pinks were pearly white, then we sent them back to the classroom to bedazzle their toothbrushes.
One of the real perks of teaching is overhearing the snatches of conversation they come up with when they’re working. Second grader small talk is priceless. “So,” Tiffany heard one kid say to his tablemates, “Anybody like Christmas?”