Monday, September 10, 2018

Making Toothpaste

This week's activity can be found in the CIEC resource 'Healthy drinks and tasty toothpaste' which can be downloaded from

This is a series of two lessons taken from ‘Healthy Drinks and Tasty Toothpaste’.  In the first children are supported to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of some commercial toothpastes.  In the second, children use a recipe to make their own toothpaste.  
The activities primarily link to content knowledge in the Y4 curriculum for Animal including humans, but can also be linked to Y2 Animals including humans.  There are also plenty of opportunities for working scientifically (more details of curriculum links at the bottom of this post).

The Activity: 'Making toothpaste': 
  •  Children evaluate some commercial toothpastes, for example by comparing how well they stick to a toothbrush in a 'shake test', how long they take to clean some permanent marker from a tile and also taking into account aesthetic considerations such as smell, taste and appearance.

Testing homemade toothpaste to see how effective it is at cleaning permanent marker from a tile (photograph courtesy of Julie Wiskow )

  • Next, children are given a recipe so that they can make their own toothpaste which they then evaluate in exactly the same way.

Recipes for making toothpaste (the full instructions can be found in the resource).

This activity has lots of opportunities for cross-curricular links.  Julie’s class designed toothpaste cartons and advertising slogans for the toothpaste that they made. (photograph courtesy of Julie Wiskow )

Suggested equipment:
As well as the equipment and ingredients listed in the illustration above you will need the instructions for making toothpaste from pages 35 and 37 of the resource, at least one plain white tile per group, a permanent marker pen,  three different types/brands of commercial toothpaste (try and find ones that are distinctive from each other such as paste or gel, different colours and different functions such as whitening, for sensitive teeth etc.), and two toothbrushes per group of children.
Health and Safety
  • Children should wear goggles during some of these activities to prevent toothpaste getting in the eyes.
  • Be aware that recipe B, which includes gelatine, would not be suitable for vegetarian children.  You will also need to be aware of the source of the gelatine as, depending upon the religious beliefs of families in your class, you may need to avoid any that has been produced from pigs or cows.

Links to the National Curriculum:
   Y4 and Y2: Animals including humans

  • (Y4) identify the different types of teeth in humans and their simple functions 
  • (Y4) find out what damages teeth and how to look after them
  • (Y2) describe the importance for humans of .... hygiene
  • (Y2) ask questions about what humans need to stay healthy

Working Scientifically 
  • use results to draw simple conclusions
  • use scientific evidence to answer questions
  • report on findings from enquiries, including oral and written explanations, displays or presentations


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