Doctor’s Surgery Dramatic Play

We put together a doctor’s kit using real medical instruments and materials and had some fun creating a doctor’s surgery for dramatic/ role-play!
 C has shown a real interest in medical visits after watching so many midwives and doctors during my antenatal appointments these past few months and this seemed the natural way to play through some of those experiences together. 
My Mum was a doctor and whenever we played doctors and nurses as children we were lucky enough to always have the real instruments to play with, not plastic replicas from the toy shop! I recently picked up some of her old tools and put together a little doctor’s bag for the girls to use in imaginative play. 
It consists of an ancient stethoscope for listening to the heart and for chest sounds, a reflex hammer for testing reflexes and a mirror for checking inside the mouth. I added in our digital ear thermometer and made sure that everything was used extremely carefully to protect both the instruments and the children. 
We also added in a box of plasters, some super-cheap stretchy bandages, a medicine spoon, a box for herbal medicine and a medicine syringe. I think REAL materials (where available and safe) are far superior to toys, as so much more learning takes place. 
We popped them all into a little bag and this became the official doctor’s kit, ready for all emergencies!

First patient was Teddy who was VERY hot, until he became “warmer” and was then, thankfully, much better!

Then the casualties just rolled into the surgery, one after another, all with some fairly bizarre and/or catastrophic injuries! Most seemed to have fallen and hurt their knees or legs, and about 95% of all complaints were solved with the aid of a plaster.

 Bunny had a temperature and needed some medicine and a lie down. Soon, he was joined by a literal heap of fellow patients all clamouring for Doctor C’s attention.

Apparently they didn’t mind sharing a bed at all which makes the NHS look fabulous in comparison!

 And puppy needed to have a stethoscope applied to his head to “listen for things that are wrong” inside it. Later on there was a patient with “broken eyebrows” and “hurting hair”, which both sounded pretty serious! It reminds me how little experience with real illness or injury they have encountered so far, thankfully, so for now we can be thrilled that these are the worst things that could happen!

 However, I was diagnosed with a “broken heart”, which was pretty tragic, but just a few drops of Olbas Oil later and I made a complete and dramatic recovery!

She showed a lot of compassion and thoughtfulness during the play and extended this to her little sister Pop when she woke up, immediately setting to work on her as her patient and tucking her up into her bed.

 There was lots of new vocabulary introduced and worked into the play, including patient, stethoscope, reflexes, thermometer, bandage and recover. Great for language and literacy development!

Learning Links:
literacy: learn and use new vocabulary in everyday and imaginative play, tell stories and remain in character while acting out dramatic play
knowledge & understanding of the world: use real instruments and tools and learn their names and usage, role play a situation from familiar everyday life, talk about medicine and illness and the role of medical staff
phse: show care and concern for others through play and in real life situations

Cakie: 3 years 4 months
Pop: 22 months


  1. says

    Aaah great play! We did a lot of Doctor-Doctor play last year, as my son spent a few days in hospital and had surgery twice. We also made our own kit and I wrote a nice post about how children play and work through their feelings. In my little guy’s case, there were a lot of needles involved and this was played out over and over with his Doctor’s tools.

    It’s such great dramatic play – so much learning to be done and so much fun too.

    Georgia :)

    • says

      I think all dramatic / role play is SO important for aiding understanding about real life situations like that. I can imagine it helped him a lot by playing that way as he experienced those things. Great thinking!

  2. says

    Like I commented on Facebook, I just LOVE this post! My daughter loves to play doctor now that she goes to them all the time, and gets weekly injections at home. She started giving us “boo boo shots” (and her stiffed animals” before she turned three, using her play spoons from her kitchen set! now she has a syringe from a vet kit and LOVES it, as well as her stethoscope.

  3. says

    Great stuff! Gorgeous pictures too, I love the first one of her listening to her rabbit’s chest. We’ve been playing lots of doctors and hospitals recently too, although I haven’t let Little Chick loose with my stethoscope yet – but maybe I should (don’t think I’m going to be needing it any time soon and so much better than the plastic toy ones) We also got a few out of date empty syringes (without the needles of course)so everybody been’s getting injections in our house! I’m also thinking of including a clipboard and some sheets of paper for ‘writing’ her patient notes. The other thing Little Chick loved when I was pregnant with Shoeshine was using a torch to do ‘ultrasound’ on my tummy! Hope you’re pregnancy is going well. Ellie

    • says

      Ooo I hope I didn’t get any of the medical equipment wrong, lol! We used a Nurofen medicine syringe but we used to play with the ones you are talking about when we were little too- I still remember the joy those brought!
      The clipboard for emergent/ play writing is brilliant and something I would definitely do too if this was a more permanent set-up. Great idea! And I’ve been desperate to think of a way to do the ultrasound (or at least sonicaid) but couldn’t- so that’s a great idea! I’m going to ask my midwife this week if she has an old/ dud one i can have! Would love it. Thanks!

  4. says

    What a lovely post Anna. I see C. grow up so fast every time your post something, i love her expressions and how she plays doctor here.
    Ofcourse I will pin this, success assured with Anna’s work :)

    Love to you,

  5. says

    i agree. real is better where ever you can do it! Love pepper pigs head bandage!! poor you with a broken heart as well. we had this play a lot over the summer and it is so wonderful to hear what they think and remember from their own experiences!

  6. says

    Great post. My daughter loves playing drs. She started from around 2 when we took her to the dentist and wanted to check everyones teeth over and over lol Now she plays drs and sticks the large plasters the ones you get after an op and sticks them all over her bear and one is used as a nappy and she always wants to take him out and I wonder what people must think when they see where she has poition her huge plasters lol. She also uses her vitamin syringe as an injection or as medine and loves plasters and bandages and I totaly agree with you that its better if they have real things to play with. When I saw your pic and I saw the sainsburys products I was happy coz most blogs Ive read are from usa and when they reccomend stuff you cant find them in the uk so its nice to know yours in from here so Ill be even more excited about your furture posts as they will not be as hard to recreate things as some oversea ones are (“,)

  7. says

    This is absolutely fantastic! She will will have actions and pictures of “doctor” in her head ready for her to overlay language to tell the story! What’s even better is that you could use the pictures you took for this post, put them in a book, and allow her to narrate and retell the story!

  8. says

    Oh I love this! I think you could make some x-rays using greaseproof paper and a card frame – hold the up to the window to check for broken bones! Also tubi-grips/old white socks make good bandages for teddies.

  9. Michelle says

    My 16 month old daughter has that same floppy bunny, she loves him! I was a nursing student before starting my family, and would love to find my old stethoscope and syringes and the like. I love this idea!