Mask mess

To help stop the spread of Covid-19, face coverings are now required in many countries. However, this is coming at a cost to the environment; a recent study estimated that the world is using a staggering 129 billion disposable masks each month during the pandemic.

Environmental charity Greenpeace is urging people to instead choose reusable masks wherever possible. Throwaway masks contain plastics, which clog up habitats and pose a threat to animals and nature. The World Health Organisation recommends that the public should wear suitable cloth coverings that can be washed and re-worn.

Find out how to make reusable masks here

Read the latest science news in every issue of Whizz Pop Bang magazine!


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

By Helly Douglas

September is almost here which can only mean one thing: it’s back to school time! But preparing for the new term is a little more complicated in 2020. As well as shelling out on school shoes and packing pencil cases, there’s also the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to consider.

The latest government advice states that “all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term”, so many of us are wondering how to prepare our children for going back to school during a worldwide pandemic.

It’s natural for us all, parents and children, to feel a range of emotions about the start of a new term during this unusual time. We might be excited about our children seeing their friends and returning to learning in the classroom, 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 sometimes – 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 socially distance and wash their 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.


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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!


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How to talk to children about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Anxiety-busting tips for chatting to children about the virus spreading across the world. 

It’s not just dominating the news – talk of the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is also filling the playground. While we know that the number of people affected so far is relatively small, that the death rate is low and that children are less likely to be affected, it’s natural for us all to feel anxious about new and uncertain situations like this one. 

While adults stock up on food, wonder about work arrangements and debate changing travel plans, how is this affecting our children’s mental health? Childhood mental health expert Dr Naira Wilson says,

“It’s normal for us all to feel anxious about this sort of event. New risks make our brains feel more concerned as we try and figure them out. If you’re a generally anxious person, and with the pace of our media, it’s easy to get wrapped up in it all.”

Is your child worried about coronavirus? Here are Naira’s top tips for how to handle it:

1. Ask your child how they’re feeling

Don’t wait for your child to approach you, because they might not know how to bring it up. It’s better to have an open conversation.

2. Be honest

As parents, it’s better to say, “We’re all concerned by the news, especially as we don’t know everything yet, but we need to balance our worries with the facts we know.” Try to be matter of fact and show them that you’re not overly anxious, which is the best way to teach your child not to be anxious.

3. Talk calmly about facts

Say something like: “Have you heard about this coronavirus? Here’s what we know…” Make sure you get your facts from a reliable source like Public Health England or watch some of CBBC Newsround’s coronavirus videos together.

4. Move on

Don’t over-talk about coronavirus. When you’ve shared your worries, the facts, and validated how your child feels, help them to gently move back to every day life by doing what you would normally do to have fun as a family. You could distract them by going for a walk in nature (which is such a great healer), or watching a funny film. Say, “Let’s just get on with what we do know!”

5. Look out for signs of anxiety

If you notice your child asking about coronavirus a lot, unusual repetitive behaviour, sleeping less or regressing in other ways, they may be feeling stressed. It’s really important to ask them how they’re feeling about things as soon as you can.

6. Look after yourself

It can be tough looking after the mental health of yourself and that of a child. Sleep is so, so important. Make sure you stay active, plan enjoyable social activities and build in time for rest and relaxation. It’s important to model self-care to your young people.


If you’re feeling very anxious about coronavirus, or are concerned about your child’s mental health, speak to your GP. Click here for the latest advice relating to coronavirus from the UK government. Click here if you think you may have coronavirus symptoms – do not go to your GP, hospital or pharmacy.

SPLASH: Leap into the science of ponds

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.


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