Returning to school during COVID-19: 6 easy ways to prepare your child

By Helly Douglas

Are you planning for your child to return to school soon? It’s natural for them to feel a range of emotions about returning during this unusual time. They can be excited about seeing friends but also worried about health risks and changes to normal school life.

We asked childhood mental health expert Dr Naira Wilson for her advice on how to help your child feel ready to walk back through the school gates.

1: Talk about how school will be different

There’s a fine balance between preparing your child and depressing them with all the things they can’t do. Talk calmly and factually about what it will be like when they return. Changes are different, not bad. 

Naira suggests you can help your child be curious about the changes. “Let them wonder what things will be like rather than thinking it will be good or bad.” They can tell you whether their predictions came true after their first day.

Read school communications together and note important information. It’s okay to feel in the dark or not remember all the changes. This shows them that everyone is learning a new way of schooling – even the teachers.

2: Focus on what will stay the same

Whilst there will be plenty of changes, many things continue as usual. They will still complete activities and games, see their friends and be taught by a teacher. Reminding your child of the normal features of school will reassure them they are returning to a familiar place.

Naira recommends talking about how long it took for lockdown to feel familiar. “We all went through a process of adjusting to the change,” she explains. “Our bodies slowly get used to something new until we feel comfortable again. Going back to school is another change we will get used to.”

3: Help them talk about their feelings

Children don’t share feelings on demand. Look for opportunities to talk when they feel comfortable. This could be over a meal, at bedtime, cuddled up watching TV or when out walking. Listen to their worries, even if they seem insignificant. Minor things, like which toilets to use, can feel huge to them.

Guessing and wondering how they’re feeling are great ways to begin a conversation. Sometimes children can’t articulate their emotions. Be confident with your guesses. If you’re right, they will feel you understand them. If you’re wrong, they’ll want to explain why. It shows them that parents can misunderstand sometime – and help you find out what the real problem is.

4: Be honest about what is happening

If children know why it’s important to social distance and wash hands, it’s easier to get them to do it. Talk factually about COVID-19, without focusing on the risks – we’ve got more great tips from Naira on how to tackle conversations around coronavirus here. If you don’t know the answer to a question, suggest you can find out together.

Whilst you’ll want to show that you’re positive about their return, you don’t need to pretend everything is normal. Naira says, “Parents need to be honest. They can say, ‘I’m worried too because I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ It’s normal to feel worried sometimes.” 

5: Involve them in preparing for school

Children enjoy helping to get things ready. Check your school’s latest guidance and make a list for them to tick off. Let them pack their bag (with your help) so they know where everything is when they’re at school. 

Naira suggests looking for ways to give them a sense of more control over the situation. Could they make a ‘how to’ help sheet for students who will return after them? Encourage them to see themselves as leading the way for other children.

Are you feeling anxious? Children are quick to pick up on our emotions. At school drop off, smile and be positive. Help them have a great start to their first day back. 

6: Stay calm and positive

“This isn’t a whole new approach to parenting,” Naira explains. “We are always preparing our children for change. Be confidently uncertain about not knowing all the details.”

Once your child has returned to school, you’ll be surprised how quickly they adapt. The strange changes will seem normal before long. However, if your child feels anxious about returning to school, discuss any issues with their teachers and see if they can help. If your child’s feelings don’t subside, or if they get worse, contact your GP to discuss your worries.

Whizz Pop Bang is a top-quality, gender-neutral, advert-free science magazine for families everywhere. Each issue is packed with experiments, activities, amazing facts, puzzles, jokes, riddles and more. Find out more here!

Dr Naira Wilson is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist who specialises in childhood mental health.

Thank you, science heroes!

It goes without saying that we are immensely grateful for the incredible efforts of medics and everyone who works for the NHS, and we want to extend our thanks to include all SCIENCE HEROES who are working especially hard at the moment. 

From clinical research scientists working on vaccines and cures, to engineers keeping our infrastructure up and running, to behaviour analysts working on how to ease lockdown, thousands of SCIENCE HEROES are using their amazing skills to keep the country running during the pandemic. 

We want to show them how grateful we are, so here’s an awesome poster by Whizz Pop Bang’s brilliant illustrator Clive Goodyer to print, colour and display! Find it here: www.whizzpopbang.com/lockdown-science – scroll down the page to find it in a few different sizes.

Are you a scientist key worker? We would LOVE to know what important work our readers’ families are involved in during the COVID-19 crisis!  👇

WIN Science Workshop books!

Learn, make and innovate with this fantastic new collection of creative ideas. We’ve got ten copies to give away to Whizz Pop Bang fans!

Budding pioneers will be inspired by this collection of projects based on the ideas of some great scientists, artists and engineers. Make a neon sign influenced by artist Tracy Emin, construct a stunt ramp to explore forces like Galileo Galilei, and lots more.

Just answer this question in the comments to be in with a chance of winning:

What are Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto?

a. The Galilean moons of Jupiter
b. Types of wild grass

c. Works of art by Tracy Emin

If you can’t see the ‘Leave a reply’ box below, click here to see the full version of this blog post.

This competition closes at midnight on Sunday 31st May 2020. Whizz Pop Bang competition terms and conditions are here.

With thanks to Hachette Children’s Group. Find out more about them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Whizz Pop Bang Loo Roll Engineering Challenge

Transform your loo roll tubes into engineering masterpieces to be in with a chance of winning 12 Whizz Pop Bang magazines and a binder!

We love an engineering challenge here at Whizz Pop Bang HQ, so we’re challenging you all to get creative with toilet rolls! Show the world your engineering prowess by posting a photo of your structure with the hashtag #whizzpopbangloorollengineering – you could construct bridges, model buildings, miniature playgrounds, anything goes!

To take part, simply build a structure using as many toilet roll tubes (and tubes made from paper and card) as you like, photograph it and post it on social media with the tag #whizzpopbangloorollengineering. Alternatively, email it to y@whizzpopbang.com with the subject ‘loo roll engineering’.

The five most creative constructions, (as judged by the Whizz Pop Bang science magazine team and their kids!) will each receive a binder full of 12 copies of Whizz Pop Bang, the award-winning science magazine for kids.

Be inspired by Sam’s amazing bascule bridge!

The competition is open to all ages and whole families are encouraged to build together. Teachers, spread the word to your pupils and set them the Whizz Pop Bang loo roll engineering challenge! 

The competition is open until 31st May, which should give you some time to build up your loo roll collections!

The judges’ decision is final. Full terms and conditions of all Whizz Pop Bang competitions can be found here.

How we’re coping during the pandemic at Whizz Pop Bang HQ…

As a team made up almost exclusively of parents of primary-aged children, we are very used to working flexibly and juggling home working with childcare, so we’re lucky that we’ve been able to easily ramp this up a notch or three now that our kids are at home full time. Of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, with our editor Tammy having a particularly tough baptism of fire when a ceiling collapsed during her first morning of home schooling! You can read more about that in our blog post on home schooling tips.

Our printers and mailing house are practising social distancing in the workplace and working in shifts to minimise contact between employees. Each month, Whizz Pop Bang magazines are packed into envelopes by machine, ready for delivery by Royal Mail, and this will continue as long as it’s safe to do so.

Orders of back issues, books and lab coats from our online shop are sent out by Royal Mail directly from our own warehouse, where we now have only a single person, Sophie or Hennie, working at any one time. With the warehouse shutter doors flung open to the Cotswold sunshine, and the radio blaring, it’s not quite as desolate as it sounds! The government is encouraging home delivery services to continue as normal where possible to keep the country running. Please be mindful that there may be delays in the postal service due to staff shortages, but the Royal Mail are committed to ensuring that households still receive mail.

Find out more about the impressive precautions that Royal Mail are taking to ensure that your post reaches you as safely as possible here.

As a small, independent business, we feel we’re doing an important job in helping families educate and entertain their children at home. If the situation changes and for any reason we’re not able to send out physical magazines, we’ll make sure that we provide all subscribers with access to a digital version of Whizz Pop Bang instead.

If you have any questions, please email or phone us on 0330 2233 790. Though we may not always be able to respond straightaway, we’ll do our best to get back to you as quickly as we can.

Tell us about your lockdown science fun!

We’d love to hear what our readers are up to at home – please share your photos, experiments, ideas and indeed all your adventures in science with us! Simply email Y@whizzpopbang.com and we’ll publish a selection in the magazine and online. Don’t forget, we’ve shared loads of FREE science activities and experiments for you all to enjoy right here!

Happy home experimenting!

COMPETITION CLOSED – WIN National Geographic Gemstone Dig Kits!

Calling future geologists and palaeontologists! You could get stuck into a hands-on adventure with this National Geographic Gemstone Dig Kit.

Your child will become a treasure hunter as they carefully uncover spectacular genuine gemstones using the digging tools provided. National Geographic’s full-colour learning guide makes identifying each specimen easy. The guide is also packed full of information and amazing facts about their crystals! 

We’ve got five sets to give away! Just answer this question in the comments to be in with a chance of winning:

Which of the below is a type of gemstone?

a. Amethyst
b. Ammonite
c. Amoeba

If you can’t see the ‘Leave a reply’ box below, click here to see the full version of this blog post.

This competition closes at midnight on Thursday 30th April 2020. Whizz Pop Bang competition terms and conditions are here.

Thanks to Bandai, National Geographic and Playtime PR for this brilliant prize!

FREE science activities for year 5 and P6!

Now that schools are closed, have you become a home educator overnight? Whizz Pop Bang is the world’s most awesomely amazing kids’ science magazine, bursting with hands-on experiments, facts and fun, and we want to help you and your children with the huge transition that many of us face.

Here are some FREE science activities and experiments to help you entertain, excite and educate your year 5 child! You’ll find out how to make a water wheel lifter, a balloon rocket, a model of our solar system, flying machines and paper planes, plus reading comprehensions about astronaut Tim Peake and sensational scientists The Wright Brothers!

Our experiments are designed for children from 6 to 12, but this list of experiments is particularly perfect for year 5, P6 (Scotland) and 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds as they tie in with the relevant National Curriculum objectives and topics.

The reading comprehensions included here were designed to be read at A3 size, so text may appear too small when printed at A4. They work really well on a tablet or monitor, or you may need to print them on two pages of A4 if your printer allows.

If you have any comments or questions about our free year 5 science experiments and reading comprehensions, please leave a comment for us. Or do you have any science homeschool ideas or general home educating ideas for 9- and 10-year-olds? We’d love to hear from you!

Find loads more science activities, puzzles and games in our award-winning monthly kids science magazine, Whizz Pop Bang!


Water wheel lifter

Harness the power of water in this fun free science experiment using household items.

This activity is taken from Whizz Pop Bang’s Awesomely Amazing Science Club – download the entire pack here! 

You will need:
1 small plastic bottle
1 large yoghurt pot or plastic bottle cut in half
Duct tape
String
Paper clip
Bowl
Wooden spoon or pencil

Bonus activity: balloon rocket

Make a balloon fly across the room!

You will need:
A balloon
String
Two chairs
Measuring tape
A 5 cm piece of straw

Topic links: Year 5 Forces and magnets, P6 Forces


Interview with astronaut Tim Peake reading comprehension

This interview delves into what it is really like to travel in space. Tim Peake describes what it feels like to take off in a rocket and to feel weightless, as well as his scariest moments. A must-read for your aspiring astronauts. 

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– An interview with Tim Peake for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 5 Earth and Space, P6 Space


Paper stunt planes

Print and fold a paper stunt plane that should fly in a circle!

You will need:
Sticky tack

Year 5 Forces and magnets, P6 Forces


Paper straw flying machines

Experiment with making flying machines by adding different shapes to paper straws!

You will need:
Paper straws


Year 5 Forces and magnets, P6 Forces


The Wright Brothers reading comprehension

A biography text on the remarkable story of the team behind the world’s first powered flight. In December 1903 Wilbur piloted a plane with a petrol engine for 59 seconds and travelled 260 metres. The Wright brothers had unlocked the secret of mechanical flight!

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– A feature about sensational scientists, The Wright Brothers, for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 5 Forces and magnets, P6 Forces


Craft your own a solar system

Learn the order of the planets by making a model solar system. Just download, print, add scissors and glue, and your astronauts-in-training will do the rest. It’s out of this world! 

Topic links: Year 5 Earth and space, P6 Space


Are you home educating children in other year groups? Find more free resources here:
Free science activities for year 2 and P3
Free science activities for year 3 and P4
Free science activities for year 4 and P5
Free science activities for year 6 and P7

FREE science activities for year 6 and P7!

Now that schools are closed, have you become a home educator overnight? Whizz Pop Bang is the world’s most awesomely amazing kids’ science magazine, bursting with hands-on experiments, facts and fun, and we want to help you and your children with the huge transition that many of us face.

Here are some FREE science activities and experiments to help you entertain, excite and educate your year 6 child! Meet an electrical engineer, discover invisible germs in a bacteria investigation, read about the father of electricity, Michael Faraday, play two bacteria games and design a bridge!

Our experiments are designed for children from 6 to 12, but this list of experiments is particularly perfect for year 6, P7 (Scotland) and 10 year olds and 11 year olds as they tie in with the relevant National Curriculum objectives and topics.

Some of these activities, including all reading comprehensions, were originally designed as A3 magazine spreads, so text may appear too small when printed at A4. They work really well on a tablet or monitor, or you may need to print them on two pages of A4 if your printer allows. 

If you have any comments or questions about our free year x science experiments and reading comprehensions, please leave a comment for us. Or do you have any science homeschool ideas or general home educating ideas for 10 and 11 year olds? We’d love to hear from you!

Find loads more science activities, puzzles and games in our award-winning monthly kids science magazine, Whizz Pop Bang!


Interview with an electrical engineer reading comprehension

Building electrical circuits is loads of fun and Nikita Hari gets to do that every day, as she’s an electrical engineer. She explains why she become an electrical engineer, all the obstacles she overcame and gives advice to young scientists. 

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– A reading spread about electrical engineer Nikita Hari for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 6 Electricity, P7 Electricity


Mouldy bread bacteria experiment

Investigate and observe how much mould and bacteria develops when happens when slices of bread are rubbed with clean hands and dirty hands. Children can set up their own investigation and make sure it is a fair test. 

This experiment can be found here or downloaded below.  

Topic links: Year 6 Living things and habitats, P7 Body systems and cells


Interview with Michael Faraday reading comprehension

Discover why we would all be in the dark if it wasn’t for ‘Father of electricity’, Michael Faraday. Find out how he got a job in the Royal Institution as Humphrey Davy’s assistant and how his fascination for electromagnetism led to the invention of the world’s first electric motor and the dynamo.

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– A reading spread about sensational scientist Michael Faraday for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 6 Electricity, P7 Electricity


Bacteria invasion game

Play a fun printable game, complete with counters and tokens, that shows how bacteria can spread.

NB If you can’t print double sided, just print the first page of the file named ‘tokens-double-sided’

Topic links: Year 6 Living things and habitats, P7 Body systems and cells


Bacteria battle cards

A printable card game that pit several strains of bacteria head-to-head.

Bonus activity: extremophile puzzle!

Topic links: Year 6 Living things and habitats, P7 Body systems and cells


Design a bridge

Make a beam bridge and a suspension bridge, then design your own bridge with this engineering challenge.

You will need:
Lego
Coins
Two chairs or stools
Plastic pot
String or wool


Are you home educating children in other year groups? Find more free resources here:
Free science activities for year 2 and P3
Free science activities for year 3 and P4
Free science activities for year 4 and P5
Free science activities for year 5 and P6

FREE science activities for year 4 and P5!

Now that schools are closed, have you become a home educator overnight? Whizz Pop Bang is the world’s most awesomely amazing kids’ science magazine, bursting with hands-on experiments, facts and fun, and we want to help you and your children with the huge transition that many of us face.

Here are some FREE science activities and experiments to help you entertain, excite and educate your year 4 child! You’ll find a reading comprehension about toilets, discover how to make slime, meet an inspiring female scientist, discover how to make an erupting volcano and how to mummify a tomato!

Our experiments are designed for children from 6 to 12, but this list of experiments is particularly perfect for year 4, P5 (Scotland), 8-year-olds and 9-year-olds as they tie in with the relevant National Curriculum objectives and topics.

The reading comprehensions included here were designed to be read at A3 size, so text may appear too small when printed at A4. They work really well on a tablet or monitor, or you may need to print them on two pages of A4 if your printer allows.

If you have any comments or questions about our free year 4 science experiments and reading comprehensions, please leave a comment for us. Or do you have any science homeschool ideas or general home educating ideas for 8- and 9-year-olds? We’d love to hear from you!

Find loads more science activities, puzzles and games in our award-winning monthly kids science magazine, Whizz Pop Bang!

How toilets work reading comprehension

Toilets! We all use them but how many of us know how they work? Now you can find out what happens to your wee and poo when you flush the toilet. A diagram of a toilet is labelled with expanded captions, including key vocabulary such as dual flush, cistern, valve, float, s-bend and inlet valve. 

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– A reading spread about toilets for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 4 Animals including humans, P5 Body system and cells


Make gloopy slime

Your slime-obsessed year 4 and P5 child will love this gooey activity! They will make their own slime, then decide if it is a solid or a liquid. This oobleck is guaranteed to provoke a lot of scientific discussion about changing states, reversible and irreversible changes, non-Newtonian fluids and more. It’s not as straightforward as it seems! 

You will need:
Cornflour
Water
Mixing bowl
Food colouring (optional)

Bonus activity: spot the difference puzzle

Topic links: Year 4 States of matter, P5 Properties and uses of substances.


Interview with an explosions expert reading comprehension

Meet chemistry professor, explosions expert and science communicator, Kate Biberdorf and find out why she blows up things to inspire her students!

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– A reading spread about Kate Biberdorf for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 4 States of matter, P5 properties and uses of substances.


Make your own volcano

Print a paper volcano, then use kitchen chemistry to make it erupt!

You will need:
A small container (e.g. a spice jar)
Bicarbonate of soda or baking powder
Vinegar
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Washing-up liquid or soap
A tray or outside space

Bonus activity: fireworks on a plate

This activity is taken from Whizz Pop Bang’s Awesomely Amazing Science Club – download the entire pack here!


Lava experiment

Discover the difference between viscous and runny magma in this gloopy volcano activity!

You will need:
Golden syrup, honey or other viscous liquid
Two paper straws per child
Safety goggles (or sunglasses!)

Bonus activity: move water with fire

This activity is taken from Whizz Pop Bang’s Awesomely Amazing Science Club – download the entire pack here!


Mummify a tomato

Anything that was once alive can be mummified! Create the conditions used by Ancient Egyptians to mummify a tomato.

You will need:
Two tomatoes
Antiseptic liquid or handwash
Kitchen paper
Bicarbonate of soda
Salt
Two small jam jars or glasses, slightly bigger than your tomatoes
Toilet tissue (optional)


Are you home educating children in other year groups? Then you might find these posts helpful:
Free science activities for year 2 and P3
Free science activities for year 3 and P4
Free science activities for year 5 and P6
Free science activities for year 6 and P7

FREE science activities for year 3 and P4!

Now that schools are closed, have you become a home educator overnight? Whizz Pop Bang is the world’s most awesomely amazing kids’ science magazine, bursting with hands-on experiments, facts and fun, and we want to help you and your children with the huge transition that many of us face.

Here are some FREE science activities and experiments to help you entertain, excite and educate your year 3 child! Meet an orthopaedic vet, be inspired by an amazing female scientist, do a walking water experiment, investigate air pressure and surface tension and make bendy bones!

Our experiments are designed for children from 6 to 12, but this list of experiments is particularly perfect for year 3, P4 (Scotland), 7-year-olds and 8-year-olds as they tie in with the relevant National Curriculum objectives and topics.

The reading comprehensions included here were designed to be read at A3 size, so text may appear too small when printed at A4. They work really well on a tablet or monitor, or you may need to print them on two pages of A4 if your printer allows.

If you have any comments or questions about our free year 3 science experiments and reading comprehensions, please leave a comment for us. Or do you have any science homeschool ideas or general home educating ideas for 7- and 8-year-olds? We’d love to hear from you!

Find loads more science activities, puzzles and games in our award-winning monthly kids science magazine, Whizz Pop Bang!


Interview with an orthopaedic vet reading comprehension

This is a great one for animal lovers! An interview with Toby Gemmill, whose job is to put broken pets back together after an accident. He explains how long bones take to mend, describes the trickiest operation he’s performed and gives some top tips on how to become a vet. Small snippets of text ideal for reluctant readers. 

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– An interview with Toby Gemmill for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 2 Animals including humans


Agnes Arber reading comprehension

Read about sensational scientist Agnes Arber, whose career as a plant scientist started when she was just 13! Her dedication to botany helped the world to realise the amazing talent of women in science.

This downloadable reading pack includes: 
– A feature about Agnes Arber for you to print or for your child to read on a tablet.
–  Reading comprehension question sheet and answer sheet.

Topic links: Year 3 Plants and P3 Biodiversity and interdependence


Walking water activity

Ask your child if they think water can ‘walk’? Set up a nifty experiment together to prove that it actually can move and discover how plants transport water using capillary action.

You will need:
Water
Kitchen towels
Food colouring

Bonus activity: upside-down glass experiment

Investigate surface tension and air pressure while learning a neat trick: how to turn a glass of water upside down without spilling a drop!

Topic links: Year 3 Plants and P4 Biodiversity and interdependence


Make a bendy backbone

Discover how the backbone is able to bend, even though it’s made of rigid elements, by creating a model backbone from vertebrae and cartilage!

You will need:
A 5 cm paperclip
A drinking straw
Scissors
A ruler
Sticky tack or Plasticine

Bonus activity: bendy bones experiment

Discover what happens when bones don’t contain enough calcium in this intriguing experiment.

You will need:
2 chicken bones (legs are ideal)
Jar with a lid (large enough to hold one bone with space at the top)
Vinegar
Cling film

Topic links: Year 3 Animals including humans and P4 Biological systems.


Are you home educating children in other year groups? Then you might find these posts helpful:
Free science activities for year 2 and P3
Free science activities for year 4 and P5
Free science activities for year 5 and P6
Free science activities for year 6 and P7