Montessori fifth-graders teach younger pupils about healthy habits

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By Gabrielle Porter

“Wash, wash, wash your hands,

Make them nice and clean,

Scrub the bottoms and the tops,

And fingers in between.”

To see Emma Drozdel and Maddy Gottlob give their presentation, you’d think they were professional public speakers with hundreds of appearances under their belts.

Emma and Maddy, both 10-year-old fifth-graders, were among the students at Montessori School of Evergreen who treated the younger pupils to a 9News Health Fair on Dec. 18.

Lynn Peesel, a teacher who helped coordinate the fair, said about 30 fifth-graders were involved.

Different stations in the school’s gymnasium covered questions like “How healthy is your favorite drink?” and “How important is it to wash your hands?” — and the students presented the answers with energy and enthusiasm.

Emma and Maddy were in charge of the hand-washing station, and they had their presentation down pat. After their ditty — set to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” — the girls sent their groups off to a sink to scrub.

When the kids came back, it was quiz time.

“True or false: Germs do not like fingernails, so you don’t have to wash your hands,” Maddy questioned the group of younger children at the booth.

A few looked at each other before one brave soul called out, “False!”

“High fives,” Maddy said, giving double-handed high fives to each kid in the line.

“Knuckles,” Emma said, extending her own to each observer.

What appeared to be just audience engagement, however, had its point. Before each presentation, both girls coated their hands with Glo Germ, a product that’s name is self-explanatory. At the end of the presentation, Emma and Maddy invited kids to stick their previously washed hands under a black light to see what germs would show up.

Emma and Maddy weren’t the only dynamic duo presenting on the importance of health.

Fifth-graders Shannon Stewart and Elli Rouse, both 10, demonstrated the ability of the body to know what is and isn’t healthful.

The girls asked kids to pick their favorite drink from a variety of bottles on a table, among them Sprite, apple juice, chocolate milk and sports drinks. They then used muscle testing by pushing on kids’ arms to look for weakness to demonstrate the relative health or sugar content of each drink.

“The sugar is just so overwhelming,” Elli said while demonstrating.

At another station, fifth-graders Keegan Parish, 10, Payton Lester, 11, and Pete Dohr, 10, led groups of kids in a board game.

Yes, it involved dice, and, yes, it involved moving pieces around a board, but other than that, all similarity to Monopoly ended. Each square on the oversized board was emblazoned with a different exercise that all the players had to perform, such as jumping rope, doing helicopter motions or stretching their hip flexors.

“Instead of just being on a space, it’s helping kids get in shape,” Payton said. “I think (the kids) like it because they get to move around a lot.”

Contact Gaby Zastrocky at gabrielle@evergreenco.com or follow at Twitter.com/gabriellereport.