A new animated series aimed at young children is tackling topics related to COVID-19.
“Spike and Toody are a wonderful little boy and girl who are able to talk about the kinds of things they’re thinking about,” said Sara Dimerman, an author and psychologist who was part of a team of advisors for the show.
In a bright-coloured living room, the characters discuss physical distancing and break the concept down to a level children could understand.
“I’m working on my physical distancing. It’s where people keep at least two metres or six feet apart,” Toody explained to Spike.
“That’s about three giant kid steps apart or a grown-up’s hockey stick or a big couch.”
“If you give important information and a real sense of purpose into the hearts and minds of kids they’ll take it on,” said co-creator Susan McLennan.
“They love to watch things over and over, so you create things so that every time they come back they learn something new and they feel smarter and that is what keeps them engaged and it’s what keeps them learning.”
Spike and Toody is aimed at children between three and seven years old and consists of five four-minute videos covering a range of COVID-19-related subjects, such as how to be a good helper and how to practice good hygiene.
In one scene, Toody can be heard telling Spike, “I’m so tired of washing my hands, it’s just so boring and I don’t want to do it anymore!”
“We have to! It’s one of the best ways to stay safe from the coronavirus,” Spike explained.
In another scene, Spike told Toody she is brave for sharing with him that she is feeling scared about the virus.
“All kids know that things have changed, they’re asking things like, ‘When can I see my friends? Why can’t I see my friends? Why do you have to wipe the groceries when you bring them in? Why is everybody wearing masks and gloves?” said Dimerman, adding “they may be confused.”
The project was funded in part by the Government of Canada and was done with the help of various partners, including CHEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, the Toronto Public Library.
“Our job isn’t to impose knowledge on them. Our job is to give them an environment where they can go and start to understand things on their own including physical distancing,” said McLennan.
“What we hope is that we’re saving lives.”