Doctors are among the most magical beings children will encounter in their youth. From the long white coats to the professional looking demeanor, it is easy for kids to associate strong impressions with medical personnel. One of the best ways to make a child comfortable being in the presence of doctors is to teach them about the magical concept of healing others -and what better way to do than to teach these lessons during playtime. The more children know about how a doctor's tools work, the more familiar and comfortable they can be in a hospital environment.
The Heart of it All: the Stethoscope
A toy stethoscope is definitely the most important doctor-themed toy you can get for a child. This is one of the most commonly used tools by general practitioners and for children not familiar with the device- the sensation of the cold metal on skin could be very uncomfortable, if not scary. Some toy stethoscopes look a lot like the real thing, but do not have any functional features -these tend to be very cheap and work well for kids who are simply playing dress up.
But for those who are looking for provide a more learning experience through interactivity, there are toy stethoscopes that offer the actual functionality of allowing the user to hear a pulse. For children, this can be quite an amazing experience and more often than not, allows them to mellow towards the idea of trusting in the tools used by doctors.
Getting a Set
There are plenty of other medical props but instead of buying them individually, the most ideal thing to do is to buy a whole kit. Most kits vary in content, but in general they come with a few staple items.
The stethoscope is one of the most commonly items to be found in a set, but as we pointed out, getting one that has functionality is better (and the ones included in toy sets almost never have functionality). So the next item on the list is the syringe. Toy kits would never include needles so parents need not worry about these syringes, though it does help to point it out to the kids that the real thing is a little bit different, tends to sting a little, but it also keep them healthy for real.
The blood pressure monitor tends to be one of the most fun items in the set -mostly because it involves an arm band that can balloon. In most cases, the air pump included in toys has little to no air pressure at all -which means that over-extending the band is rarely an issue.
One of the more everyday items in a kit would be the thermometer. As one would expect, allowing kids to play with the real thing is not ideal -mostly because most thermometers are made of glass and are also filled with a bit of mercury. Giving them a toy version to play around with will certainly be more suitable.
Toy bandages and scissors should be checked -if you plan on giving the kit to a very young child, they may not be suitable (no matter how kid-friendly they appear). Try to assess these pieces individually before handing them off. That said, once children are able to handle these items better, it actually comes in pretty handy. Pre-teens tend to be quite active physically, and are naturally prone to a few scrapes and bruises. Learning how to take care of their injuries (or their playmates') is an important first-aid action (of course, parents will still have to check the dressings later on and apply advanced care as needed).
A word of advice, try to stay away from the kits that are surgeon themed. These mostly have toys shaped like scalpels and saws -and while these toys are not sharp, they function less as learning tools for children.
Looking the Part
Nothing makes role-playing more intensive than being able to dress up in the part. Sure, a resourceful child might be able to put on an oversized white long sleeved polo and pass it off as a lab coat, but having something specifically made for the part is even better.
Children's lab coats come in a variety of sizes. For the best effect, try to gauge your child's growth rate and get a size that will last them for a year or two (but no further than that). Since these are designed specifically for children to use, there is no danger of overly long sleeves preventing them from using their arms and hands properly (and no tripping from excessively long hems). The added bonus is that if the child is enrolled in school that actually requires lab coats (usually for science and art subjects), this costume gets a more practical non-playtime purpose.
Operating games are a great way for kids to learn hand and eye coordination on some simple and fun surgery type situations like the ones that appear in my modern games such as these www.agame.com/games/operate-now-games . The original game which was originally produced as far back as 1960 has spawned a few fun and imaginative editions. We cover two of them below.
Operation: Despicable Me 2
Those of us who grew up on the original battery operated Operation game will have fond memories of the odd depiction of the human body's internal structures and functionalities, and also of the loud buzzing sound that happens when you do something wrong. Well, the cool part is that this game is back, and instead of trying to live up to nostalgia hype, Operation has taken on a Despicable Me 2 theme (yep, based on the CG movie sequel about a villain who can't help but be good and his annoyingly adorable minions).
Anyway, this new version of operation allows players to poke around the insides of a minion (which is less educationally confusing, so that is a plus). You get some strange stuff that you will need to pull out -but it makes a little more sense if you have seen the film, and the regardless of what these random things are, the key point is that the game still focuses heavily on steady movements as well as good hand-eye coordination.
While plenty of fun to play, Despicable Me 2 Operation is a little bit loud at times and yes, there are a lot of small parts that can be choking hazards. For smaller kids, it is best to play along with them. Older kids will be able to enjoy sharing this game with friends. Also, it uses up AA batteries at a fairly decent rate -a little bit faster if the audio is triggered a lot. Overall, it makes for an excellent substitute to a human-themed operation game for kids.
Operation: Star Wars R2D2
Everyone's favorite astromech droid needs help, and it is up to you and Protocol Droid C3P0 to put Artoo back in tip top shape. For anyone who has played the original Operation game many years back, the classic electronic toy has seen a wide variety of modern incarnation taking on the themes of various franchises; in this case, (Disney's) Star Wars.
The classic duo of C3-P0 and R2-D2 are represented in kiddy-style artwork as players work through game cards in order to figure out what to do to the broken droid (while C3P0 mostly worries, players do all the work -just like in an actual Star Wars story!). Kidding aside, this game is planet of fun to pay. The colors are bright and crisp, and it will take some skillful maneuvering in order to properly fix R2D2 without triggering the alarm. The game allows for solo play and with friends -which means that children can be entertained on their own or bring out the toy as a way to entertain playmates.
With 24 various possible game scenarios and a lot of various accessories that aid the play experience, Operation: Star Wars R2D2 is a very fun game to play and experience. It runs on 4 AAA batteries to be sure to have extras of these on hand as well.
Playmobil: Vet Operating Room
This Playmobil set comes with quite a lot of stuff for children who want to explore the wonderful world of pet-care. Operating room is, as named, quite specific as it delves into the part where you have to bring up the cute little animals onto the operating table. There are a lot of items here that are not normally found in over vet-themed playsets, mainly due to the fact that there are a lot of surgery-specific equipment in the list. X-Ray stuffs, a CT scanner, casts (that are compatible with most Playmobil pets), bandages, and other equipment round up the list of key items in this set. Of course that is not counting the two characters, three pets, a whole lot of accessories that they carry around.
This playset is a great add-on to the other Vet themed sets -it also has other stuff such as little cages and several storage bins that can be used in order sets (or you can use other sets to enlarge this one). As a standalone kit, it is sure to pique a child's interest for a deeper understanding of what actually goes on inside an operating room (and the fact that pets are living beings that also need as much care as humans do).
As expected from a Playmobil Vet Operating Room set, the amount of small parts available makes it not recommendable for very young children so be sure to supervise playtime if you plan on letting a child younger than 4 to play with these. And yes, as implied above, it is very compatible with other sets in the series.