Play-based learning should be the foundation of any early childhood program. Through play, children learn so many valuable skills such as problem solving and creative thinking. You can even extend their vocabulary through careful planning and selection of playful learning activities! Today I’d like to share our latest playful learning area – our Vet Clinic dramatic play area!
My daughter has always been fascinated by animals big and small. She has lovingly raised some pet goldfish and loves to help take care of our cat, Chloe. So it was only natural that we extend on this love for animals with a vet themed play area! When I started working on my Vet Clinic Dramatic Play set, we visited the Animal Hospital at Australia Zoo and got to see Veterinarians working with injured Koalas!
I also jumped online and searched for some suitable books. My toddler is 3 so she hasn’t experienced many trips to the Vet herself just yet, so I wanted to find some books to give her a good understanding of what goes on inside a clinic. The “I want to be a Vet” by Daniel Liebman and “Let’s meet a Veterinarian” by Gina Bellisario were both fantastic books for introducing the theme to my little learners. I ordered my copies from the Book Depository because free worldwide shipping is my favourite!
Once my packet was finished, I started collecting other props and resources ready for our Vet Clinic Dramatic Play area. I printed off all of our labels, signs and forms and ordered some beautiful Animal X-Rays from Modern Teaching (which you can also get on Amazon). They include 14 different animal X-Rays with matching photographs.
Finally it was time to set up the Reception and Operating Room areas. First I put together some baskets of medications and foods for the animals. I had some old empty medicine packages and used some printables from my packet to make some labels for some empty jars and bottles. Pom poms looked like great little tablets and some dyed water looked just like medicine!
For the food, I collected some felt foods from our play kitchen. Some expired split peas in a jar and an empty goldfish food jar finished the basket off nicely!
Next was the Waiting Room and Reception area! Our cube shelf (from Kmart) came out once again, as did our Ikea side table. We also had a real pet crate in our garage so I cleaned that up and added it to the Reception area. It looked like a real little Vet Clinic!
As you can see, my 3 year old LOVED playing in the Reception area. She was very adamant that I needed to pay her with real money! I couldn’t get over her little leg cross as she filled in the form for her turtle! The printables in my Vet Clinic set are aimed for older children, but even younger pre-writers love to fill them in.
The next area was the Operating Room. This is where the Vet did all of her check-ups and operations! I added some of my printable signs and labels to the space as well as some of our favourite stuffed toys. The dollar store also had some wonderful little food and water dishes so I grabbed some of those to add to the Recovery Room area! Our Animal X-Rays from Modern Teaching (also available on Amazon) were very popular on our light table too!
Dramatic Play is one of our very favourite ways to play. I love that I can set up a space like this and then sit back to watch how my little learners engage with the environment.
It’s a wonderful way to encourage writing with children who are otherwise hesitant because it’s not risky for them. It’s just exciting and fun! Vocabulary can be extended in ways you wouldn’t imagine as your little learners play and solver problems with one another or talk with you.