Medical Play Ideas

If you are reading this blog, then you are probably involved in the field of Child Life. If you are involved in Child Life, then you know what medical play is and you might even have some great medical play ideas of your own. If so, please share them in the comments below. I would love to hear about your favorite medical play ideas!

At the conference in Florida, I went to a presentation about Medical Play. While this particular presentation focused on medical play inside and outside the hospital, this post is just going to look at Medical Play in general. If you aren’t aware of what medical play is and it’s role in child life, then this post is for you.

In short, medical play is play that uses medical tools. This form of play can be used to provide procedural support, help children process their emotions and also allows the Child Life professional to gauge the child’s knowledge of their medical experiences. Procedural support can be done both before and after operations. Procedural support can be walking the child through what is going to happen and allowing them to explore the medical items that will be used. When used after a procedure, support often consists of allowing the child to process what they went through. Allowing the child to play with medical equipment and dolls will often open the door for them to recreate this procedure. By doing this, it is possible to gauge whether the child understands what the doctor did.  Processing emotions is especially tricky for children. Not only do they often not have the words to use, but they also struggle with the right words for the right emotions. By allowing the child to play, it is possible to learn their fears and concern for procedures.

Medical play can be either directed play or non-directed. Directed play is adult-led. Typically, this means that the adult guides and directs the child’s play. Non-directed play is led by the child. They are allowed to choose what items they want to play with and how the play will go. Interacting with medical equipment increases a child’s ease with the equipment. If they are timid, it’s a good idea to start with plastic toys before moving to the realistic items. This can increase the child’s comfort level. Below are some medical play ideas that I learned at the conference and of course on Pinterest. Check out my Medical Play Pinterest Board for ideas.

Syringe Painting

Syringe Painting is exactly what it sounds like. By using syringes filled with paint, one shoots them as a canvas to create art. By using syringes to create their own artistic creations, children become more comfortable with syringes. When they encounter syringes in the hospital setting, children will have positive experiences influencing their reactions. If you need more directions, you can find them here.

First Aid Butterflies

These are super cute, but definitely a task for younger children. These butterflies are done using band aids and gauze. The gauze represents the wings and the band-aid is the body. By adding a face to the band aid, you can get really cute butterflies.

Test Tube Sparkle Wands

Test Tube Sparkle Wands require syringes, test tubes, baby oil, funnel and items for the sparkle in the wand (glitter, beads, sequins, etc.). Add the baby oil and “sparkle” and you have a magic wand. Check out the directions here. (TEST TUBE DIRECTIONS)


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