I've really been thinking about some of the ramifications of mask wearing, and wondering how to make them a little friendlier for young children. I decided it might soften mask wearing a bit if some of the characters on the front of picture books on the back-to-school shelf were wearing masks. For the most part, it was a pretty easy craft project for a rainy afternoon. All-in-all, it took me about 40 minutes to figure it out and apply masks to the characters on the covers of a handful of books.
Here's what you will need:
Here's the process:
Here are a few images of the process:
When I started this project, I just randomly picked titles that seemed to have characters on the cover that would were large enough to apply a mask on their faces. I was not picking books that were necessarily the best books for launching the school year, although some might be viable options.
While this is not a sophisticated or comprehensive solution to softening mask-wearing, it may prove a conversation starter or at least something to engage students. At the very least, this is a fun way to think about how masks can cover our expressions. You could even pull back the film to reveal the expressions of the characters. This project seems to be fun, whether you are sharing books virtually or in person.
Perhaps, if you begin school "face-to-face," they should go on your shelf six-feet apart.
Note: After I had completed the project, my children pointed out that the bird on Rocked Writes a Story didn't get masked! I had already put up my materials, at that point. If I were sharing the book with children, I would mask all of the characters on the cover.
One of the big challenges with wearing a mask is being heard and understood. This may be particularly problematic for "face-to-face" learning this fall, when children are necessarily very spread out. Reading aloud, for example, to a group that is widely spread throughout the room would have its own challenges without a mask.
In the video below, I show you how to use a personal voice amplifier while wearing a mask. The microphone is not a perfect solution to the challenges of teaching while wearing a mask, but it seems to offer quite a bit of volume and clarity. I also think it will reduce the fatigue of trying to project your voice through a mask all day, perhaps making this tricky back-to-school a tiny bit easier.
There are a number of these devices available online, and the one I have is not a particularly sophisticated piece of equipment. I was excited, however, to see how well it worked while wearing a mask. Here are a few tips:
Dr. Jan Burkins is a full-time writer, consultant, and professional development provider.