A classroom of Whangarei children ended up with hands covered in glitter while learning about spreading germs.

But what does glitter have to do with germs?

The sparkly particles were placed on the hands of kids who then shook the hands of their classmates and teachers to demonstrate how far the 'germs' spread.

Denise Humphries, a teacher at Whangarei Heads School, said the students in her classroom, aged 5 to 7, had a fun day as they learned about the importance of covering sneezes for SneezeSafe Week.


"They were really involved and they thought it was really cool," Mrs Humphries said.

"They also shared what they had learned at assembly."

SneezeSafe Week was designed to lift the standards of cold and fly hygiene practised by children, and to stop bad habits before they start.

While glitter was used to show how far germs travel on unwashed hands, a spray bottle filled with water was used to teach children about the importance of covering their sneezes.

The spray bottle demonstrated how far sneezes travelled when not covered.

Children who felt droplets land on them put their hands up and Mrs Humphries said a metre-long ruler was used to measure how far the water - or 'sneeze' - travelled.

She said the droplets were felt by students sitting beyond the end of the ruler.

"They were quite surprised how far it travelled.

"There were probably about 30 children who ended up with glitter on their hands," she said.

The students were also taught three ways to trap sneezes so germs would not spread.

They were told the best methods were to trap it with a tissue, to be binned afterwards; with cupped hands, which should be washed afterwards; or with the inside of their elbow.