Set up a hospital role play scene in your home or classroom for some context-rich playful writing opportunities and a fun way to learn about the world around us. Playing doctors and patients can also be a hugely helpful way for ill children to play through some of their experiences of medical experiences and make sense of them in a familiar context at home.
Our girls love to make up their own imaginary and role play games and we have set up lots of little scenarios to support this in the past, from a role play shoe shop to a play dough sweet shop and an outdoor garden centre! (See a full list at the bottom of this post.) We have made a role-play doctor’s surgery before and they loved it, so we extended the play into a full hospital A& E department this time!
I wrote some simple signs that might be seen in a real hospital and we placed those around the room. Then they found some blankets, doctor’s outfits, dollies and teddies and a doctor’s pretend play kit to finish off the scene. I added some real surgical gloves, bandages, plasters and dressings to increase the real-life elements (and because for my girls it’s ALL about the bandages and plasters/ band aids!)
We talked about needing each patient to come and check in at the desk and how they must write their names down i a list to be seen. This is to introduce some purposeful writing opportunities and for understanding why and when adults might use writing in these scenarios. Cakie was very keen to give all her little patients names and to have a go at writing these on there list, spelt phonetically or using invented letter combinations.
They checked them out using their medical instruments and we talked about what each one was used for and what it could tell us about the patient’s medical conditions. They were particularly keen on the stethoscope and listening out for any funny noises from all parts of the bodies!
We also had a real (old) prescription pad from my Mum’s doctor career, and they loved writing “real” prescriptions for “lots and lots of medicines and plasters” on their. Using real or realistic looking writing and reading materials in these rle play set ups really helps to increase the context-led learning. If only we had some real brochures and posters from a real hospital department it would have been perfect!
They checked them out, diagnosed them and then administered treatment, lying them in their little beds and tucking them in to recover.
What they are learning as they play:
literacy: emergent reading of signs and labels in a role play environment, purposeful pre-writing about real life contexts, mark making and emergent writing, list making, new medical vocabulary
knowledge and understanding of the world: understanding what doctors do, learning about medical equipment and its purpose, talking about illness and treatment
Bean: 14 mos
Browse our other role play set up ideas!