This week I surprised my 4,5 year old daughter by making a pretend play hospital at home. While she was out picking blueberries with her little brother and Dad, I transformed her entire bedroom into an A&E. Here’s how it went …
Make a Pretend Play Hospital at Home!
When Noa came home I patted the empty seat on the couch next to me and said to her: “Will you come and sit down please? There’s something I need to tell you.”
With a cautious frown she sate next to me, probably not sure if she wanted to hear what I had to say.
I continued: “There’s been an accident in your room. Your dollies were playing while you were away and they all got hurt. I couldn’t take them to the hospital so I had to set up an emergency room in your bedroom.”
There’s an audible gasp. Noa glances towards her bedroom.
But there’s more. “The doctor told me on the phone she can’t come until tomorrow and she was wondering if you could take care of the dollies until then. She left all her things for you to work with.” I said in a serious tone.
“No.” Noa answered. “I don’t want to.”
Well, that went well.
“Ok”, I said, “then I’ll quickly go and check up on everyone myself. You’re welcome to come and visit if you want.” And I quietly walked off to her bedroom.
Noa stood up and followed me. She looked past me into her bedroom and stopped in her tracks. Her eyes went wide. It took her a minute to take it all in. Then slowly she started exploring the room and a huge smile appeared on her beautiful little face.
Yup. I totally made her day.
Introducing our Pretend Play Hospital
Let me show you around and point out all the little details that might give you some inspiration for your own pretend play hospital, doctor’s office, veterinary clinic or any other medical focussed dramatic role play set up.
On the left hand side you’ll see our waiting room. It has a little chair to sit down and a box with toys and books to keep the patients and visitors entertained. There is a mobile phone for ringing the nurse in an emergency or calling the family back home. The waiting room even has some info-graphics, reminding adults to store their medicines away from children and to brush your teeth regularly. (All the ‘info-graphics’ come from a calendar we were given at one of the Well Child check ups.)
Then moving on to the right is our patient room. Over the group bed hangs a banner that reads: Get Well Soon. The patient room also has a television. It has Frozen on repeat, by popular demand.
To the right of the patient room is the medical station. Here’s where the doctor and nurse find all of their medical equipment. There’s an X-Ray machine, showing the very broken hand of one of the little patients. There is also a thermometer (real), stethoscope (real), bandages and plasters (real), syringes (real), headlamp and a few other bit and pieces that I thought would help the staff do their job to the best of their abilities: cut up T-shirts that make for extra bandages, popsicle sticks for checking throats and splinting, and painter’s tape for quick casting. And of course, a tissue box.
Under the medical equipment you’ll find a few baskets that contain clothes, nappies and blankets for the dollies.
Right next to the medical station is the doctor’s office.
The doctor has her own doctor’s coat. The doctor’s coat is an old shirt from Dad, with the sleeves rolled up. I should really take the sleeves in and attach some press buttons or velcro to make it fit better, but all in all it worked well. Miss Glitter stood up a few inches straighter when wearing her coat, taking her role and responsibility seriously!
On the doctor’s desk are a few essential books. Some about nutrition, others about dogs, but the main book that was used look up each ailment was ‘the body book’. This is a children’s book about the human body.
Then there are also pens and pencils, notebooks, a prescription pad and a name tag that simply says “doctor”. (I didn’t write her name on it in case someone else got to be the doctor at some stage. We’d be in trouble.)
Close to the doctor’s office is the intensive care unit. It has a single baby bed with a drip feed. I was specifically looking for a way to include this into the hospital set up since this is something my daughter can relate to. Last year she spent a few days in the hospital and had to go on a drip overnight, which left a lasting impression on her. Not in a good way.
The intensive care unit has room for one visitor and is beautifully decorated with an info-graphic to remind us to eat healthy, which is, after all, very important.
In the corner there’s a little check up station: a place to measure the height (my sewing tape measure), scales and an eye chart.
There is also an examination bed where the doctor can perform her check ups and necessary treatment procedures.
Pretend Play Hospital Fun
Miss Glitter played in her hospital for hours (days). She wanted me to stay close at first because she needed some assistance in figuring out certain treatment plans or holding the crying babies. But after a while she became more comfortable managing the entire A&E on her own.
When it was dinner time Miss G took her mobile phone with her and perplexed my husband by making the phone ring at least three times.
“Ring ring” “yes” (silence) “I can’t come right now because I’m eating” (silence) “yes, you can give baby Rose some food too, and don’t forget to change her nappy and be careful with her arm!”
She was so serious. I asked her if the nurses had everything under control over at the hospital. “No” Miss Glitter said, “I’ll have to go back soon.” I was laughing on the inside. So precious!
Here are some images of Noa as the chief doctor. And a chance for you to see some of the details of the dramatic play set more up close.
Dramatic Play at Home
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed setting it up.
Pretend play or dramatic play is such an important aspect of children’s play. And while our pretend play hospital here might seem slightly over the top, invitations to play can be really simple as well. In fact, sometimes the simpler, the better! Have a look at our other imaginative play ideas for lots of different ideas.
By setting up our dramatic play scene in this way, I wanted to give you as many ideas as possible for you to draw on in case you’d like to stage a little pretend play doctor scene at home yourself. You might not have all the materials I used today available, but I’m sure you have some and with some creative thinking, you can improvise a whole lot more!
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