Jane Turner

Making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic

An article by Prof Jim Al-Khalili in the Guardian in April about the importance of scientific literacy prompted this resource for teachers to use to stimulate and support conversations in primary school classrooms to help children to make sense of the experience of living through a pandemic.

The life of every child in the UK in 2020 has been fundamentally affected by the coronavirus pandemic. They couldn’t go to school, their parents may have stopped going to work, they couldn’t see family and friends. Children will have had many different experiences: the trauma of a family member or close friend being ill or dying from Covid-19; family members working on the NHS front line. Some may have clapped in support of the NHS on Thursday evenings. They will all have seen people wearing masks in shops and on public transport.

Children will have seen news stories about the new disease COVID-19, how it was spreading, and what people needed to do to keep safe. Scientists were on the TV every day, and science made the headlines in every paper and news report. Children will have engaged with scientific ideas about disease and hygiene and will also have seen at first-hand how science works, with words like modelling, predicting, testing, data, and evidence used in everyday conversations.

  • What questions do you think might children ask about the pandemic?
  • How can primary teachers help them to find answers?
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