Making Masks For Toys: Yay Or Nay?

Esther toy wearing a homemade face mask.
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I found it strange wearing a mask in front of my children for the first time. Doesn’t everyone? Mine are 1 and 4, so the eldest has some idea what’s going on. But how to explain to a 1-year-old why daddy suddenly has his face covered up half the time?

To be fair, Brown Minima didn’t seem that fazed by my concealed countenance. He carried on shouting out the colours of passing cars and making farty noises. But I still felt a little bit awkward, especially on public transport when we got to sit face-to-obscured-face.

One way I’ve broached the whole coronavirus thing with my eldest is to make face masks for her toys. I can’t remember if the idea came from her, or us parents, or something we saw on TV, but we recently found ourselves crafting a tiny covering for one of her toys. Look to the top of this page and you’ll see Esther (named because she’s made from polyester) sporting her new Covid-safe mouth covering.

Esther’s mask was a doddle to make. A couple of loops of string attached to a sticky plaster, it was the work of seconds. Using the elastoplast removes the need for glue or any complex thinking. Any child -- or ham-fisted dad -- should be able to make one. With a bit more dexterity (and a quick browse of YouTube) you can fashion a face mask from a rectangle of cloth and three hair bands -- no sewing needed.

We talked about coronavirus while we made the mask. It felt like a useful exercise, explaining what we mean by a pandemic, and reminding her about all the changes to life we’ve seen over the past half year, including the need for masks.

I was surprised, though, that my daughter didn’t really weave this new accessory into her regular play. Esther’s mask was hardly commented on again. It’s since vanished into the magical, mysterious rift that claims so many of her craft projects. We may never see it again.

Perhaps it just didn’t seem relevant to her -- part of the adult world that has no place in her games. In the same way she doesn’t give Esther a bottle of wine or have conversations about the scandalous cost of car insurance with her PAW Patrol toys. 

Or maybe it all feels a bit weird to her. It’s only recently that we’ve taken her into shops, or on public transport, so she’s not really seen all that many people in masks. 

So, what seemed like a fun, educational exercise turned into a bit of a damp squib. I’m left wondering if any other parents have tried making masks for their children’s toys. If so, what materials did you use, and did you find it a useful exercise? I’d love to know. Please email me at matt@kidadl.com (preferably with photos of the toy), and we’ll look into doing a follow-on article to share other people’s experiences.

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