Your aspiring medical worker can get a glimpse into her future with doctor and veterinarian dramatic play activities. You won't need a lot of fancy costumes or props to foster your child's interest. Items you have around the house work as medical costumes and instruments. With a little imagination, your tot can work up a patient history on everyone from her brother to her favorite stuffed animal.
A quick look around the house can yield some pieces for a vet or doctor costume. Check your closet for an old white blazer to look like a lab coat that a medical worker might wear. A V-neck shirt works for a makeshift set of scrubs. Add some sweatpants in the same color to complete the look. Your little doctor also needs accessories to look the part. A kid's medical kit gives her the tools she needs for exams. Ask for a surgical mask the next time you head to the doctor's office. A clipboard works well as her patient chart.
The dramatic play activities feel more authentic with props to set the stage. Clear off her bed as the exam table. If she's examining dolls or stuffed animals, a doll bed, ottoman or coffee table can double as the exam table. Fill empty plastic jars with cotton balls, bandages and tongue depressors to make the space look like a doctor's office. Put a cheap scale in the area and a height chart on the wall for weighing and measuring patients. Draw or print pictures of X-rays to decorate the walls of the pretend office, along with an eye chart and diagrams of the human body. The next time you visit a real vet or doctor, grab some of the free pamphlets they always have on display to decorate your own dramatic play space.
Most young kids jump right in when presented with dramatic play materials without the need for structured activities. Both the doctor and veterinarian setups lend themselves to exams performed by your little one. If she's not sure what to do, make a checklist with pictures to show the steps in an exam. The list might include taking weight and height, listening to the heart, looking in the ears, checking vision and giving pretend shots with a needle-less syringe. For sick or injured patients, the exam could include writing a prescription or wrapping an injury with gauze.
Dramatic play helps your little one develop cognitively, physically and emotionally, according to PBS.org. She naturally uses skills in these areas, but paying attention to the specific dramatic play activities helps reinforce them. In the doctor or vet play scenario, a clipboard with patient records encourages literacy skills. Evaluating what is wrong with the patient develops problem-solving skills. The interaction between the patient and doctor supports social development. Using the doctor's tools engages your child's fine motor skills to help her develop physically.