'The Bubble’ – making sense of Covid for children

Issue: Volume 100, Number 11

Posted: 3 September 2021
Reference #: 1HAPQj

A teacher aide and parent at Appleby School has written a story that she hopes will help children who are feeling anxious about lockdown.

Teacher aide Tanya Snowden wrote ‘The Bubble’ to help children make sense of Covid and their feelings around it. Here she is pictured with her children. The illustrations were based on her youngest son.

Teacher aide Tanya Snowden wrote ‘The Bubble’ to help children make sense of Covid and their feelings around it. Here she is pictured with her children. The illustrations were based on her youngest son.

Mum and Dad came running, they found me with a pout!
I yelled, “I needed that bubble that everyone talked about!”
Mum knew what I was saying, and a smile crept on her face,
She scooped me up and she explained “You’ve found it! It’s our place.”

This is an excerpt from the ‘The Bubble’ written and illustrated by Tanya Snowden, a teacher aide at Appleby School near Nelson. Tanya drafted the story last year when New Zealand entered Alert Level 4 in March 2020 and families encountered lockdown for the first time. ‘The Bubble’ is about helping children make sense of the word ‘bubble’ in this context, particularly those children who might be feeling anxious as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown.

“In the first lockdown the word ‘bubble’ kept being thrown around a lot on TV. And I knew that a lot of children were probably confused about what was happening,” says Tanya. “I liked the word ‘bubble’ and I just sat down one day, and the story came to me all in a rush. I wrote it thinking that there were probably a lot of kids out there who were quite anxious about it all, and not really understanding what was being said on the TV.

“I thought maybe some parents might have assumed that their kids were okay, or knew what was happening, but they may not have really understood the language that was being used. So I thought explaining what the bubble was might be one way of explaining to kids what was happening, and that you’re safe, and we're all going to be okay because we're going to be with our family in the bubble.”

The story, currently in draft form, outlines a child’s search for the elusive bubble they’ve been hearing so much about, and in the process touches on the importance of hand-washing and dealing with feelings of frustration.

Tanya based the illustrations on her youngest son, who turned eight in the last lockdown.  She says while her children have been coping well with lockdown, she knew there would be others out there who may be struggling.

Tanya shared the draft with Talia Ryan, a Year 5/6 teacher at Appleby School, who was so impressed, she made a short video of the book in the hope that it might spark the interests of a publisher.

“I thought it would really resonate with some of those younger students,” says Talia.

With regard to the approach they’re taking at Appleby School with learning during Alert Levels 4 and 3, Talia says they’ve learned a lot since last year’s lockdown.

“I think there's a lot less anxiety with the schoolwork this time around. We've been really clear with students and families that the main priority is their family's well-being. Last year, I think some of our families thought that they had to try and complete all the work set. This time, we've just been really clear that it's your own family's decision about how much to do and we're here to support you and give you as much as you want.”

Talia says Appleby School is also placing a lot of emphasis on keeping families engaged, on having fun and getting outside. “But we’re really missing the kids!” she says, “We can’t wait to get back in the classroom.”

Readers can enjoy the draft version of ‘The Bubble’ by Tanya Snowden here(external link)

Teachers and students at Appleby School can’t wait to get back to face to face learning. Pictured here are senior students engaging in a lesson at their local river.

Teachers and students at Appleby School can’t wait to get back to face to face learning. Pictured here are senior students engaging in a lesson at their local river.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:37 AM, 3 September 2021

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