Updated: Sep 18
Buckle your seat-belts and go on a journey with my son and me. Discover how we used the book, The Magic School Bus Fights Germs, and the accompanying television show, The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie, to help my son understand why we could not go to his favorite places due to COVID-19.
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With Ms. Frizzle's at the wheel you will discover all there is to know about how the body fights germs. This will help your child understand what germs are, how they get into the body, the body’s response to the germs, and how they can help their own body.
The Why Stage
My four-year-old has officially reached the why stage. He is constantly asking the questions why?. He is always on the go. His favorite things to do are go to the park, library, and tot spots (which is a preschool playgroup). He also loves playing with his friends. One of the first things he asks for when he wakes up each morning is to do one of these activities, and if I respond with a not today answer it would inevitably be followed by Why?. So when the pandemic hit, you can only imagine the constant battle going on in my house. All-day long I would hear:
My son, "Can we go to the park?"
My son, "Why?"
My son, "Can we go to the library?"
Me, "Not today."
My son, "Why?"
My son, "Can we go to James's house?"
My son, "Why?"
You get the picture. Perhaps many of you have or are experiencing the same scenario.
My biggest issue was how to explain to him why he couldn't do the things he loved without it being followed by another Why?. I really didn't want to continue playing the Why game about this. I was quickly getting frustrated but trying not to take it out on him because he didn't understand.
Solution to the Why game
I racked my mind with how I could help him. I knew I needed to help him understand how viruses and germs work, but it needed to be in a language a four-year-old can understand. I started thinking of games we could play or books we could read that would help him more fully understand the situation. One day I finally remembered a book and television show my older kids used to read and watch when they were younger. I pulled the book, The Magic School Bus Fights Germs, out of our library and went through it with him and let him watch the show, The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphi. Ever since, the Whys have significantly decreased. Mostly he asks now if the virus is over yet, sadly I have to say no. However instead of a Why question, he now asks, "When will it be over?."
The Magic School Bus
In The Magic School Bus Fights Germs, the children are at school in Ms. Frizzle's class learning about germs. Wanda, one of the students, isn't feeling well and ends up going home. Of coarse, Ms. Frizzle takes the kids on a field trip because it wouldn't be a Magic School Bus story without a field trip. They explore the inside of Wanda's body to see what is going on and how her body reacts to the illness she has. Find out what happen's when Wanda's body mistakes the kids for?
Written by Joanna Cole
Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken
There is another Magic School Bus book similar to this. It is The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie. Both of these books pretty much cover the same information about germs, the difference is one book is about Ralphie being sick. He is another student in Ms. Frizzle's class.
In The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie, Ralphie is supposed to be the host for FNN (Frizzle News Network). His broadcast was to cover health. However, he has to stay at home because he is sick. In typical Ms. Frizzle style, she helps Ralphie and his classmates do the broadcast, as the children go on a field trip inside Ralphie’s body. While inside his body they learn about red and white blood cells and how white blood cells fight off bacteria and viruses.
Directed by Larry Jacobs
The television show is an adaptation of the book, The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie. The show first aired in 1994. You can find it in season 1, episode 2.
Pros and Cons to The Magic School Bus Books
The Magic School Bus books have a lot of information, and can sometimes be hard to follow with bubble conversations popping up all over the place. However, there is the main story you can follow, so if your child is younger you can just stick to the main story. There is also little notes on each page that provide additional insights to the lesson being taught in the story.
For some additional books about germs, see my list of 17 Books to Help Kids Discover the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Truths about Germs.
After I read and watched the show with my four-year-old son, I wasn't sure he got anything from it. My older daughter even told me that he wasn't going to understand, and that I was wasting my time. I knew he had understood something when later he told his dad that germs get into your body through your mouth and nose, and I definitely knew that it helped when the Why questions changed from, "Can we do this?" To, "Is the virus over?" He may not have understood everything, but he understood enough to help him with what is going on with the pandemic. This has helped him deal with his world from his perspective.
You can also incorporate activities that will help your little ones apply what they are learning from the book and television show. This will reinforce the knowledge they have gained. By reinforcing what your child has learned, they are more likely to retain the knowledge.