a blue teddy bear patient


Play Date Idea: Set Up an Animal Hospital

Mar 26, 2013

Here in my home daycare, we Hooligans are all about learning and having fun on a budget, and the activity that I'm sharing with you today fills the bill on all accounts!

We've had an Animal Hospital set up here in my home daycare this week, and it's been a huge hit keeping the kids busily exploring and learning for days. Whether you set it up for one child, or for several friends to enjoy at a play date, it's a wonderful way to keep children entertained and engaged, and it's such a fun and easy activity to prepare.

Little ones love to emulate real-life situations through pretend play, and an animal hospital provides the perfect opportunity for them to do just that.

Setting up your animal hospital:

To make our hospital, I gathered up our doctor's kit, several stuffed animals and a few other odds and ends: toilet roll tubes, craft sticks, white fabric, medicine droppers, plastic syringes, some dust masks, a pretend cell phone and a few mini-flashlights.

Kids like to play with "the real thing" so the plastic syringes and medicine droppers have been very popular. Kids have used the craft sticks as tongue depressors, and the fabric strips as gauze. I cut a few toilet roll tubes into various lengths, and slit them up the middle to serve as casts and band-aids.

They've been very popular, too, but the favourite items on the table are the two small LED flashlights.

The Hooligans have spent hours this week tending to their animals, checking blood pressure levels, inspecting eyes and ears, and administering pretend medicines with the droppers and syringes.

They've listened to heartbeats, taken temperatures, mended broken bones and wrapped wounds.

The gauze has given the children an opportunity to work on their wrapping and tying skills, and they've learned how to make simple knots to secure the gauze in place.

It may look like kid's play, but there's lots of learning happening here. Putting on the masks and the blood pressure cuff and using the stethoscope can be challenging and require co-ordination.

Opening containers, squeezing droppers and using the syringes are tricky, and great for muscle and fine motor development. Plus, imaginations flourish as the children experiment with real-life skills, and talk about their animals' illnesses and ailments.

It's been touching to see them care so attentively and tenderly for their patients. Because the animal hospital has been so popular with the Hooligans, it's become a regular activity here at our house, so at the end of our play, we simply gather everything up and store it in a basket until the following day.

If you're looking for more simple and inexpensive ways to keep your little ones happy and busy, please pop over to my blog at Happy Hooligans. You'll find hundreds of ideas in the pages there! 

Article Author Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie

Read more from Jackie here.

Jackie Currie is a mother, daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind the blog Happy Hooligans. A self-proclaimed glitterphobe, she specializes in easy, affordable arts & crafts and good, old-fashioned play.

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