Explaining a virus to my curious 3 year old

During this time of panic and uncertainty children can sense change especially if schools are closing, schedules and routines quickly change or they need to be in isolation. They look to their parents, family or care givers for calm and a safe space. I believe greatly in transparency and speaking open and honestly with children of all ages – they’re mini humans in a great big world after all.

My little one is an curious little soul he soaks up information like a sponge! Thankfully for me, he’s amazing at hand hygiene already – he doesn’t like his hands actually dirty so I didn’t really need to adjust anything with the impeding pandemic.

Below I have listed some simple things that have helped my little one understand how we become sick and the preventative measures to hopefully avoid any virus, I’d thought I’d share for others.

1: StoryBots. Season 2, Episode 8

The StoryBots are cute little robotic characters that answer all kinds of questions in each episode from how does an eye see, how do computers work to really important things such as Why do we have to Recycle and this episode How do people catch a cold? A super informative but fun episode showcasing the journey of a virus in the body and how the body reacts and fights back, with a catchy handwashing song in the middle too its perfect to help little minds understand the importance of handwashing and steps such as using tissues to catch virus and coughing. My little one sings along to the songs and always says bye to the ‘gems’ and ‘birus’ when he washes his hands and the soapy water runs away down the plughole. It’s available on Netflix using the link above but its also on youtube too.

2: Make hand washing fun not forced

We all know the UK government have advised washing your hands to the Happy birthday tune! Making hand washing fun and something we do together when A was learning the steps really helped to cement the process in his mind. I made a routine where each steps was a word explaining the action. He now does it himself, I’ve tried to catch it on video to share as I think visually will explain better but he’s camera shy – plus by now we all know how to properly wash our hands [hopefully]. Starting with a splash under the tap, drip drip the soap, we count to 20 or sing songs like the alphabet – rubbing his hands together its a rub rub rub, get the soapy white and bubbly. Scissies or wiggly worms his amazing childminder describes (interlocking fingers), twisty slippy thumbs, tippy tips go round and round the garden, and dont forget all the backs – then rinse all the ‘gems and birus away in the water – BYE GEMS’! I hope this makes sense! It often takes longer than 20 seconds and there is no harm in that – he loves to see the bubbly soap and seeing the soap goes on all parts of his hands and he can see that all of his hands are covered. Using hand sanitiser whilst out we rub it in the same motions to cover all our hands then count down from 10 (he’s obsessed with space) and watch as it magically dries then we can get back to playing or anything we were doing!

3: Hello I am a Virus – my name is Corona!

This short story by Manuela Molina has went viral, honestly no pun intended. It give a cartoonish illustrative but informative explanation aimed at children under 7 about the Coronavirus. It is an activity based booklet that explores how they may feel and gives easy to read info about what it is, what to do to help them not get sick including the universal hand washing tips. You can find the booklet in a number of language to download here.

4: The Pepper Milk Science experiment

This simple science experiment went viral when a pre-k teacher Amanda Lorenzo shared it to her instagram. It shows first hand the importance of using soap to wash all of our hands. Taking a shallow plate or bowl add some milk and ground black pepper. Ask the children to wash their hands with only water and put a finger tip into the ‘virus’ water and the virus doesnt move it actually sticks to them. Asking them to wash with soap and then putting their still soapy finger in the pepper virus magically disperses. It’s an adaptation of the colour changing milk I’ve seen on pinterest and done with A before – the science behind it and the original experiment can be found here.

These are just some small things that have helped my inquistive little dude understand ‘biruses’ and the importance of hand washing that I thought I’d share. However all children are different, follow your childs lead you know them best! If they’re like my little one and the type to ask questions hopefully some of the above will help you explain the situation calmly if not and they don’t seem interested or effected don’t push it onto them. As long as they feel safe and calm in the current pandemic!

Together I hope this passes and everyone stays safe and well. N.b I’m not a medical professional, educational worker I’m just a Mammy who found this info helpful – hopefully someone else does too.

Sending best wishes and positive thoughts from Alden and I ✌🏻

If you have any tips, recommendations or stories about this subject – pop it in comments!

A helped me draw some virus – he chose the colours and shapes and emotions.

One thought on “Explaining a virus to my curious 3 year old

  1. Brilliant ideas. I’m stealing the wiggly worms! I didn’t know about the pepper milk thing either – off to investigate! Thanks. Xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.