3 Activities To Help Kids Understand COVID-19

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: May 13, 2020

Children are not immune to the many ways in which COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and livelihood. From missing their friends at school to being stuck inside for days on end, kids of all ages are experiencing the effects of a phenomenon that they may not fully understand. As parents, friends, or teachers, we want to explain this complex pandemic to our beloved little ones, but we may have no idea how to communicate something so abstract. Not to mention, it’s a fine line between education and scare tactics when the subject matter is serious. So, we’ve talked amongst our staff and curated our top three methods for helping children understand germs and hygiene (and why they’ve been in lockdown for weeks).
  1. The glitter game.
    Kids learn and experience their world through touch, whether it’s toys, pets, furniture, their faces, or their friends' faces. Because it comes so natural to them, just asking or telling them to keep their hands to themselves is usually a losing battle. Instead, you can use this love of tactile learning to help teach about germ spread and hand hygiene. For this activity, ask your child to rub a small amount of glitter all around in their hands. Then, ask them to touch surfaces like couches, toys, their face, your hand, etc. As the glitter spreads and travels, it will visually demonstrate how our hands can cause germs to move from one person to another. Next, demonstrate how handwashing can help. First, have your child rinse their hands with only water. They’ll see that many “glitter germs” still remain. Then, have them wash with warm, soapy water and vigorous scrubbing. Voila! The glitter germs are gone when hands are washed properly.
  2. The germ drop.
    For this project, have your child start out with a blank sheet of paper. Start describing what “germs” actually are- tiny organisms that can be found in all kinds of places and that make us sick if they come into our eyes, nose, or mouth. Next, ask your child to draw a series of germs on their paper. It’s up to them to be as creative as they want in their sketches. Once they’re finished, cut out each paper germ, and place a piece of tape on the back. Walk around the house and stick the germs in areas where they’re most likely to be found- doorknobs, bottoms of shoes, garbage areas, etc. These can serve as reminders of why it’s important to wash hands regularly.
  3. The clap test.
    As we well know with COVID-19, not all germs are limited to being stuck on surfaces. If you’re trying to explain why mask-wearing is part of our new normal, you may need to turn to another demonstrative ingredient- flour. For the clap test, fill a shallow dish with a small amount of flour. Ask your child to place a small amount in their hands, then lift their hands up and clap loudly. They’ll see that the flour spreads through the air easily, just as germs do when people cough or sneeze. You may have a small mess to clean as a result of this activity, but your little one will better understand why face coverings- and even sneezing or coughing into your elbow at all times- is so important.

As adults, it’s easy to forget that our kids are looking at the same situations through completely different eyes. They’re new to the world (relatively speaking), so it’s our job to help put things in the right context for them. By presenting these lessons and activities in a way that is educational without feeling scary, we set our kids up for a healthy understanding of the precautions we will need to take now and, to some degree, into the future.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.