All smiles

Heritage students teach about teeth at Townsend

Photo with no caption
By Tony Karnowski
For Blount Today

It was all about the teeth.

Every Friday for five weeks in November and early December, members of the Heritage High School Early Childhood Careers III class switched roles as students and became teachers themselves. They went to Townsend Elementary School to teach oral hygiene.

Heritage students Kayla Miles, Brittany Gibson, Summer Muse, Aften Simerly and their teacher, Linda Goins, engaged the Townsend children in games and activities designed with the goal of teaching the younger children how to brush their teeth.

On the first day of the project, the Townsend students received bags filled with toothpaste, tooth brushes and dental floss. The goody bags were donated by Drs. Greg Cook and Michael Conrad of Appalachian Dental. "We couldn’t have done this without them," Linda Goins said. "We really can’t thank them enough for their help."

In addition to the supplies, the first graders also received a chart designed to map their progress. Each day the children brushed their teeth, they marked that day on the chart. At the end of the project, books featuring Disney and other popular characters were given to the students who were successful in brushing every day.

It wasn’t all hard work, though. There was plenty of fun involved to get the kids excited about brushing.

"On our first day," Goins said, "we put on a skit that we wrote called ‘Cassie the Tooth.’"

The skit involved the entire Early Childhood Education Careers III class. It was about a girl named Cassie and her own dental hygiene experience.

"Cassie was being tempted by her friends to eat candy and not brush her teeth," Kayla Miles, a senior at Heritage, said. "But, in the end, she turned it around and got them to brush their teeth instead."

Some of the other activities included reading to the children from a book called "My Tooth is About to Fall Out" by Grace Maccarone and Betsy Lewin. The book addresses a little girl’s concern over losing her first tooth.

The Heritage seniors also helped the Townsend children make their own toothpaste out of baking soda, salt, water and food coloring. "It didn’t taste very good," Heritage student Summer Muse said. "But they really liked it anyway."

To help teach the kids to floss, the girls took Legos and filled them with Playdough. "We gave them dental floss," Heritage student Aften Simerly said, "and they used it to get the Playdough out from between the Legos."

Legos were utilized to teach the kids how to brush as well. Using toothbrushes and dishwashing detergent, the kids learned the proper brushing technique by practicing on the toy blocks. "It was a lot of fun, and the kids got to make a little bit of a
mess," Miles said.

There was also a game called "pass the toothpaste" which is a take on the classic "hot potato." The two winners of that game each received a toy basketball game as a prize.

"The kids really learned a lot," Muse said. "And they seemed to have a really good time in the process."

"Every time we showed up in their class," Heritage student Kayla Miles said, "all the kids were excited to see us. They would run up and show us that they’d filled in their chart for the previous week. They all seemed to really enjoy it."

"I’ve never seen kids so excited about brushing their teeth before," Heritage student Brittany Gibson said.

At the end of the project, the Townsend First Graders handed in their progress reports to their teacher. The girls from the Early Childhood Education Careers III class were thrilled to find that all of the charts had been filled in completely. "We all had a really good time with this," Muse said. "We’re going to miss going and working with the kids."

Photos by Leslie Karnowski

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