Shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day

I’m not going to lie, St. Patrick’s Day is definitely one of my favorite spring holidays. Growing up in a family from “up north” who observes the Lenten season, St. Patrick’s Day was always something to look forward to because it meant we got to have a big party at the church, eat sweets, and drink Irish Coffee (for the record, Irish Coffee to us kids meant taking a very sweet and creamy coffee or hot chocolate and covering it in whipped cream. No alcohol was necessary or desired). Now that I live in a different part of the country, I’ve realized that St. Patrick’s Day is not as popular in all parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun and celebrate (and maybe teach my coworkers the awesomeness of Irish Coffee, the kid-version of course!) So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to share with you a fun and yet simple shamrock craft.

Shamrock Instructions

I want to start by saying that I got this craft idea from ModernMami and I slightly adapted it. You can see the full instructions as well as a printable template here. She created cool patterns with washi tape, but I didn’t have any tape. Instead I had a plethora of scrapbooking paper, so I went with that instead. It made the craft a bit quicker to complete, but that was good because sometimes attention spans can be short. I got a few different choices of green paper of varying color and patterns.

Shamrock

Once I picked my colors, I cut the out and glued the shamrock together. Ta da! Finished product! I recommend that you stick to glue sticks in order to keep the dry time short, but regular glue works too. The end result is a simple yet colorful shamrock. You can hang it on a door, wall, bed, even an IV pole if you punch a hole and put a string through it! Sometimes simple is best! Try it out and let me know how it went!

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Saturday Toy Shopping – Doctor Barbie

So we probably can agree that there is a Barbie doll for every career, or pretty close to every career. If anyone watches the Barbie Life In The Dream House show, they actually mention Barbie’s many careers. Therefore, Barbie should have been a doctor at some point, right? Of course, but she looks a bit different from when she was a doctor in the 90’s. While at Walmart I found a “Baby Doctor Barbie”. I found it interesting how Barbie is a specialty doctor, it made me wonder if there is a generic Barbie Doctor you can get. I do remember owning a “Dentist Barbie” complete with dentist chair and sound effects. While this may seem silly to have Barbie in so many roles, it really emphasizes how important it is for kids to engage in role play. My dentist Barbie not only was fun to play with, it helped me process my own experiences at the dentist office and also allowed me to entertain the idea of going into dentistry myself. I did in fact got through a phase where I wanted to be a dentist. Thanks to my Barbie doll, my doctor kit, various other toys and a vivid imagination, I engaged in lots of free play where I could be anything I wanted to be.

Re-designing The “Hospital PJs”

I wanted to share with you a super cool therapeutic activity idea for the kids. Everyone knows the infamous outfit that patients must often wear in the hospital. While the typical hospital gown does come in multiple sizes and patterns for pediatric patients, there is still much left to be desired. I have to admit that I’ve met multiple small children who have voiced their discontent over having to trade their favorite Batman or Elsa PJs for the unfamiliar fabric and shape of the pediatric gowns. Since one way that we help kids overcome their disappointment is to give a little bit of control back to them, this activity is a great example. In fact, Starlight Children’s Foundation just recently had a competition where everyone was invited to  design a gown. While the submission deadline is over, the voting for final design that will be created and distributed to hospitals around the country will happen soon. So I highly encourage everyone to go vote. You can check out more information here: https://www.starlight.org/

I decided to get a little creative and make my own design. I used my computer’s Paint 3D program for fun and here is the finished product:

Hospital Gown

It was really hard to come up with a theme because there was so much to choose from! f you would like to do this yourself or do it as an activity with patients, you can create your own template, or right now you can download the template used by the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I like that there is a front and back on the Starlight Children’s Foundation template. Try it out and see what you find!

Saturday Toy Shopping

Hi friends! So in honor of Child Life Month, I thought it would be fun to do a new weekly feature. It’s called “Saturday Toy Shopping” and each Saturday I will feature a cool toy that is great for Child Life.

The first toy I wanted to share is what my nurses lovingly refer to as “Mr. Monkey”. We know all it’s songs by heart because it is so popular and easy to use. It makes noise, it lights up, there are buttons, and I can magically make the monkey dance… or at least that’s what some 2 year olds might believe. It also comes in one piece and makes it easy to disinfect. My nurses will often grab it even before they call me to help with a toddler. And sometimes that’s all the child really needs in order to be happily occupied during a blood draw. I have two of them on my unit only, there are probably at least 6 of them floating around the hospital.

Have you ever used this toy? What did you think? Do you have a go-to musical light up toy you like to use with toddlers? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Child Life Month!

It’s March, which means it’s time to celebrate Child Life Month! So if you know a child life specialist, let her or him know how much you appreciate them. And if you are a child life specialist, assistant, student, or in any other way are associated with the field, pat yourself on the back, because you rock!!!Time for your check up!

At our hospital we kicked off Child Life Month with a huge a Teddy Bear Clinic! We invited a bunch of different departments to participate and we had quite the event! Each child got a teddy bear and took them on a trip to the hospital. Every teddy was checked in and assessed, where the kids diagnosed what was wrong with the teddy. Then the kids decided where the teddy needed to go to get better. The teddy and the child could visit radiology, the lab, surgery, recovery, physical therapy, and respiratory therapy just to name a few. It was really cool to see the different choices kids made about how to treat their teddy bears. Some kids wanted to try everything while others chose to say no to some of the different activities. This is so important because kids don’t get many choices while in the hospital. So to be able to say “no” is very therapeutic.

Not only is choice important for these kids, but the teddy bears will also serve as a way to validate that they were in the hospital. The kids are able to view the hospital as not just a scary place but also something that they overcame. For example, above is pictured a teddy in a nurses outfit. I got this teddy when I had surgery as a child. My teddy got surgery just like me and it definitely holds a special place in my heart, even many years later. In the other picture is Clifford, who was given to me when I was in the hospital as a teen. As you can see, even a teen can be impacted by a stuffed animal! So thank you to everyone who has ever donated a stuffed animal!

Have you ever participated in a Teddy Bear Clinic? What did you think? Interested in hosting your own clinic and have questions? Write a comment below!

Let’s Rodeo!!!

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Hi friends! How’s life? I’ve got a brand new therapeutic activity to share in honor of Rodeo! You may know that in child life it is very important to give children the chance to participate in what we call “life experiences” even when they are in the hospital. Many people would name birthdays, Christmas, graduation, Thanksgiving, Kwanza, and Chanukah as life experiences, depending on which family you talk to.  But life experiences also can revolve around events that happen in a certain region of the country, city, or even city block. I live in an area where the rodeo is definitely a big part of the culture. So of course this means that we have not one but two rodeo events at our hospital.

How in the world do you have a rodeo party in a hospital you may ask. Well, with some creativity, lots of decorations, and a helping-hand from a few cowboys, it’s fairly easy! We had a few real life cowboys come show the kids how to rope using one of their practice steers (believe it or not, it can be made of PVC pipes or pieces of metal piping!). The kids and our child life interns got a huge kick out of learning to rope.

But my favorite activity that we did was sheep-shearing and this is something anyone can do. All you need is a large cut-out of a sheep, some shaving cream, and a squeegee. You can do this outside, but if you choose to do it inside, I recommend you have something underneath the sheep to catch the shaving cream with.

Basically, once you get all your tools, the fun begins. Take the shaving cream and squirt it all over the sheep, creating the “wool”. Then take the squeegee and start “sheering”!

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Our little sheep ready for kids!

Basically, once you get all your tools, the fun begins. Take the shaving cream and squirt it all over the sheep, creating the “wool”. Then take the squeegee and start “sheering”!

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Maybe a little more off the top?

You can see that we choose to go with a metal basin to catch the “wool”. The kids always have so much fun sheering the sheep. Have you ever tried it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Sheep-Sheering Activity Notes

Ages: 2 and up

Materials: 2-D picture of a sheep, shaving cream, squeegee, (optional bucket or mat for cleanup)

Therapeutic Value:
Creativity
Control
Fine-Motor
Sensory Stimulation
Normalization

Christmas Trees with a… popsicle stick?

Hi friends! Who is ready for the holidays? Not me! In my family we don’t put the decorations up until closer to Christmas. But I definitely have been trying to get my family to tell me what they want for Christmas.

 

 

At work we’re not ready yet either. The donations for Santa’s workshop have only just started coming in and the hospital Christmas Party isn’t until next week. But we have to plan some fun activities for the kids. I wanted to share a craft we will be doing. I modified it from an activity I saw on One Little Project, so go check out the original here! I changed it up by using markers to color the popsicle sticks and we will be switching the popsicle sticks out for tongue depressors (medical play, anyone?). You will need popsicle or tongue depressors, markers, glue, paper stars, brown paper squares, and various items to decorate the tree. I highly recommend the shiny pipe cleaners! Popsicle Stick Chrismas Trees 9

You might wonder how I made the stars so nice. Debbie over at One Little Project recommended the method of folding paper and making one cut. About half way through I realized that I could have made copies of any star I wanted onto a sheet of paper and cut the stars out that way. But I have to admit, it was fun to do it the origami way.

Once you have your items, cut one of the popsicle sticks so that it is slightly shorter than the other two. Like so:

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Then using the markers, color your sticks. You can paint them instead, but since the kids will be doing this craft during the party and there will be multiple other crafts as well, I wanted to keep this simple and not too messy.

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Put some glue on the ends and glue them together.

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Let the glue dry slightly, then decorate your tree.

Popsicle Stick Chrismas Trees 4

You can use the pipe cleaners, the fuzz balls, even sequins or buttons. Use glitter at your own risk thought!

Popsicle Stick Chrismas Trees 3 Popsicle Stick Chrismas Trees 2

I love this activity because not only is it a great craft for the holiday season, but it’s also a great way to create memories, even in the hospital. I know that in the U.S. many children make homemade ornaments both at school and at home. It’s important to continue these traditions even in the hospital. I hope you get to try this craft out. Let me know what you think!