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Scenes made from Lego help teach children about social distancing

Catherine Cook

By Alistair Mason, PA

A mother is using Lego to teach her children about social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cat Cook, 42, had been recreating movie scenes with Lego as a project with her son – who is seven and has a history of severe respiratory problems – and her daughter, four, during lockdown.

When restrictions started to be eased, she began using the same method to help talk to them about how social distancing will work when they go out of the house.

“They’ve been living a very sheltered life in our safe little bubble these past few months, without a care in the world,” Ms Cook, who lives in Surrey, told the PA news agency.

“But if and when we start going out again, it’s important that they understand the importance of social distancing as my son is high risk.”

Among the images Ms Cook has created are a child inside a glass jar looking out at an elderly person, two people sat on separate benches chatting and six people in a queue separated out by striped markers.

“Each picture we created was inspired by my discussions with the children about social distancing and things they’d experienced or seen on the TV, like the spaced-out queues outside supermarkets,” she said.

“Creating these pictures together and talking it through in a gentle way has definitely helped to give them a better understanding of what the world outside is like nowadays to start to prepare them for what the new norm looks like, for now at least.”

Ms Cook and her family have been in strict lockdown since a week before the official order was given by the Government in March, having taken the decision to be extra cautious because of her son’s medical history.

She said: “My husband’s job enables him to work remotely from home and I’m a stay-at-home mum at the moment, so we’ve been able to completely isolate in our little bubble.

“Before the lockdown, I was terrified of the virus because of my son’s medical history and was just incredibly relieved to be able to have my husband and kids safe at home with me.”

The Lego social distancing images have gained some attention online, with the image of a child inside a jar in particular catching people’s eye.

“Some felt it was a particularly heartbreaking image, although it wasn’t intended that way,” Ms Cook said. “This scene was actually inspired by real-life events when the kids’ grandparents popped over to collect some groceries we’d ordered for them.

“We left the groceries out on the doorstep for them and were then able to talk and wave at them through the closed windows. This was a really memorable moment for the children as they were just happy to be able to see their grandparents after weeks in lockdown, albeit through a pane of glass.

“It was the first example they thought of when we started talking about social distancing.”

And the images have now gained a much wider audience after Ms Cook shared them in a parenting group on Facebook.

“I was amazed to get thousands of likes within just a few hours,” she said.

“I’ve had so many lovely messages about the photos from people, including primary school teachers, day care centres, parenting coaches, child therapists, speech and language therapists, child counsellors and parenting groups saying how useful these images will be in helping children to understand what the Government’s social distancing policy really means in the outside world.”

She added: “Children tend to process information better through images, so I just hope my pictures can now help other children to be able to better understand the concept of social distancing.”