Jenna took this photo of Ginger, her little (stuffed) cat.
Ginger went to the vet today because he was sneezing a lot.
In our home, we are partial to crafts that take an entire day or more. Those are the crafts that the kids really get involved in and, more importantly, which end up engaging them in really good play for days after. The final product doesn't always reflect the time put into it but the it is the process that fascinates the kids - it's rich in learning experiences and opportunities for adding new layers and details. Our Busytown autombiles and the Art Museum were recent examples. The kids made up stories, played for a long time after and occupied themselves. And I got to sit and drink tea and watch. Today's vet clinic is along the same lines.
One of the challenges of pretend play scenarios is the protagonist often has all the fun. Everyone wants to be the Teacher, the Doctor, the Princess, the Queen, the Hero, but no one really wants to volunteer to be the students, the patients, the courtiers, the serfs, the damsels in distress. When Emily declared she wanted to open a vet clinic, I groaned inwardly because I knew everyone would fight to be the vet. Obviously, we needed more roles.
Like The Receptionist.
For her, we created patient forms:
Patients bring in a menagerie of pets and she, Empress of The Check-in Counter, screens them. She hands out pencils and these forms on clipboards and drawls, "Please indicate what sort of animal you are bringing in today, and tell us its name."
Then she shoos them back to the waiting room to read magazines.
When the doctor is ready for them, The Receptionist barks out the patient's name and hands the patient form over to the doctor. In the examining room, the doctor checks off what ails the patient, scribbles a treatment plan and/or prescribes medication.
Meanwhile, The Receptionist pulls up her Tally Sheet
and records each animal that was seen that day.
When the doctor is done with the patient forms, Ms Organizing Guru Receptionist files them alphabetically
in colorful folders like these, which we made by folding a sheet of construction paper in half, and sticking a label on the top for a tab.
Suddenly everyone was fighting to be The Receptionist. Haw haw! It's absolutely marvelous what a little marketing can do.
The kids had so much fun preparing the sheets and folders and learning how a filing system works even before starting to play. And they didn't even realize they were learning and practising letter-recognition, writing, reading, sorting and categorizing, counting and Math. Sneaky mother!
We talked about how doctors diagnose patients according to their symptoms.
"How do you tell a patient is sick?" I asked.
"The thermometer! They have a fever!"
"And how do you treat that?"
Over-simplistic, but there's some good logic and cause-and-effect in there.
With an injured patient, though, it was a little tricker. So we made X-rays.
These were simply images of bones drawn with white crayon or pencil on black construction paper. The doctor gets to pompously hold these up, pronounce with a flourish, "Ah, we have a fracture!" and mummify the patient in copious amounts of flannel strips. Fun.
"And what do you do for a patient who's having a baby?" I asked.
More discussion, then the final consensus: "Give them food!"
So we made food samples - sorta like the formula samples and prenatal vitamins that we expectant moms get from our ob/gyns, but for animals.
We rolled colored paper around a dowel
and cut them into little pieces -
different kinds for different animals-
which ranged from the traditional
to the more exotic.
We made our packets out of printer paper sealed on all four sides (you can use glue, staples or the sewing machine). They rip open easily to dump out their delicious morsels into little feeding bowls.
One last idea - although this was made in a different context a couple of years ago - little cardboard kennels for the pets that needed to be warded for observation.
Feel free to use our patient form and tally sheet to recreate your own vet clinic at home! We designed them so that most of it could be filled out by even the littlest, non-reading ones among us. Enjoy!