Dramatic play areas are an essential part of quality preschool classrooms. Children use dramatic play to recreate familiar events from their own lives and to explore new ideas and concepts important to social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Turning your dramatic play area into a doctor's office can help children boost their social and problem-solving skills while encouraging empathy, creativity and independence.
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Engage students in a group discussion about the role of doctors and nurses in your community. Ask the children to help you come up with a list of supplies they think will be needed to create their own doctor's office in the classroom. Brainstorming together can build excitement and stimulate creative thinking before the area is set up. Some of the common things children may suggest are chairs for the waiting room, a telephone, baby dolls (for patients), a cot or mat with a blanket as the examining table, bandages, and a stethoscope.
Literacy and Writing Skills
To promote literacy and writing skills, include clipboards with pencil and paper for patient charts, an diary or calendar for setting up appointments, small pads of paper for prescriptions, and magazines and books for the waiting room. As children role play as doctors and patients, these supplies help children learn to recognise letters, numbers and words, and to develop penmanship.
Reinforce the important role doctors and nurses play in your community. Hang pictures of doctors and nurses in various aspects of their jobs to help generate scenarios in which the children solve problems together. Include several white doctor coats (long-sleeve white shirts are a good substitution) and nurse's uniform tops for children to wear as they role play.
Math and Science
The doctor's office is a great way to explore math and science. Provide a scale for children to weigh themselves and a height chart to document how tall they are. That will support number recognition and measurement concepts. If you have access to old X-rays or large pictures of the human body, include those in your classroom doctor's office. Use those props to stimulate discussion of the human body and how doctors use technology to diagnose problems and help treat people.
A doctor's office can easily be converted into an animal clinic by removing the baby dolls and adding stuffed animals. Including a few animal-specific items, such as empty pet food boxes and animal carriers, can extend play and keep the creativity flowing.
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