With the onset of COVID-19, masks are becoming more common in day-to-day life. While wearing a mask is essential to the health and wellness of individuals and our community, they can be an object of fear for many. This blog and the video below help create a play-based approach to learning about and becoming comfortable with masks.
Using play is an excellent way to help decrease fear and increase understanding. We recommend adding a mask into your child's toys to allow them to explore wearing a mask in a safe environment. You can put a mask on a favorite stuffed animal or to play superhero or doctor. The best part of using play as a way to teach is there are nearly endless possibilities for ways to present the material. Have fun with it and use toys and games you know will engage your child!
Below, we have included a story entitled "The Task of the Mask". We have also included a printable mask. In the video below, one of our music therapists shows you how to make your own mask and then sings the story. During the story, the therapist will ask your child questions about the content of the story, help teach how to wash hands correctly, encourage mask play and exploration, and use a stuffed animal to model a play-based approach. We have included the story so you can read it with your child as often as needed. The music therapist sings the book to the tune of "The Alphabet Song", so you can sing the book too!
The story we are using is from Conscious Discipline - an organization dedicated to providing resources for educators and parents that provide safe, connection-oriented, and problem-solving resources. Below are some of their tips for presenting this story and playing with masks.
• If possible, read the story before going with your child into public venues, where
people will be wearing face masks
• Keep this book available for children to review. They may want to hear the story over
and over again. This is a sign that they are working to understand and make meaning
of the changes they are experiencing
• Engage your child in conversation as you read the story to them; listen carefully to
their questions and respond simply, honestly, and in a matter-of-fact manner
• Cut-out the paper face mask template in the back of the book and invite your child to
decorate it. It may be helpful to make a stencil of the mask so this activity can be
• Encourage your child to make face masks for a favorite doll or stuffed animal
• If available, add a real face mask to your child’s pretend play toys