Early Language Activities, Preschool

Preparing Your Toddler For A Doctor’s Appointment Through Play

Does your toddler have a doctor’s appointment coming up? Use the experience to your advantage and start teaching the vocabulary BEFORE they get to the office!

Pre-teaching the vocabulary makes your child familiar with the terms, understand the sequence, and gives them words to attach to what is happening. For the doctor’s office, I recommend doing this 3 different ways: reading books/watching videos related to the topic, using modeled pretend play, and songs. Here is how we are prepping for our appointment:


So this book isn’t about going to the doctor but it is all about having an accident and making it better. It is a long time favorite in our house. We’ve used it this week to talk about going to the doctor when you are hurt and how they put bandaids, casts, and sometimes stitches if you need them. But mostly we enjoyed making all the boo boos better by covering them with bandaids!

This is a fantastic book that reads like a loose social story. It goes through the things the doctor will do, discusses feelings they might have (shots!) and pre-prepares the child to know that scary things only take a second to do. This book is part of the LOVEVERY Explorer Kit.

I like that this board book looks at the body parts and explains what is happening in them as they use various doctors tools. While it’s a little advanced language for a 2-year-old, I like the language exposure and it’s simple enough that she can still understand the main ideas and words.

Sensory Bins with Picture Matching

We used cotton balls and the items from her pretend play doctor’s tool bag. To add excitement we dressed up as a nurse/doctor and went looking for items we needed to help a patient. Several ways you can use sensory bins to practice the doctor vocabulary:

Picture to Object Matching: I took pictures of the doctor’s tools and printed them out. Then as the child finds each item they match it to the picture in the paper tool bag.

Object to Traced Objects: On a sheet of paper quickly trace the doctor’s tools in the sensory bin. Then let your child find each one and match it to its outline.

Find by Context Clue: Be the doctor asking your child, the nurse, to find different items based on their description (appearance or function). For example, you may say “We need the tool with a long handle and triangular end used to test reflexes”.

Object to Picture Matching
Sensory Bin Supports found in the Doctor, Doctor! Language Unit

Pretend Play

Pretend play helps children play out and prepare for experiences. It teaches children to use new, unfamiliar vocabulary in a fun way. When preparing for a doctor’s visit I love to do this with B (24 months) several ways.

Modeling Use of Objects:

Using our doctor’s kit, I take each item out and use it myself. I model being the doctor and B being the patient. Like most toddlers, she immediately wants to try it out herself- and that’s good! After I have modeled it I let her try to imitate me while I narrate what she is doing (again- vocabulary exposure!).

Child Uses Doctor’s Tools on Baby Dolls/Animals

After I have modeled how to use each doctor tool, I leave out the items for pretend play with baby dolls and/or stuffed animals. I may encourage this and model it first by putting the baby doll on the table to say a scenario they are here and prompt some steps to take (e.g. You’re here for your check-up? Open wide and let me look in your mouth. Now let’s take a look at your ears.) After that, sit back and watch your child transfer the pretend play with you to independent play with the doll/stuffed animal!

Setup a Pretend Doctor’s Office (3 years old and older)

B isn’t at this stage yet but I love doing this with my preschool speech kids! We use items like pillows or the Nugget to make an examination table, a coffee table or kid’s table for the front office, and then our doctor’s tool bag. If other kids are available this is a great time to practice peer play since every child has the shared experience of going to the doctor. Think about who is going to play what role and what the problem is. What does each person wear and need? Then let the kid(s) take turns acting it out.

Here our are favorite items for pretend play (but don’t be afraid to get creative and make your own using what you have!):

Pretend Play Supports found in the Doctor, Doctor! Language Unit


Songs are both captivating and repetitive, which is perfect for teaching children new vocabulary. Here are the two we’ve been singing all week:

Arts & Crafts

DIY Bandaid

Cut out brown felt in the shape of a bandaid. Hot glue a white rectangle into the middle of the bandaid. Then attach a small piece of velcro to one end. Voila! You have a reusable band-aid for pretend play!

Paper Towel Roll Cast

Love the bandaid idea but looking to get your child more involved in the creating process? Try this out. Grab an old paper towel roll and cut out a narrow rectangular strip (long ways) the entire length of the roll. Then decorate! If you want to make it even more realistic you could paper mache the roll to make it white or whatever color the child wants…or you could just glue on some construction paper :).

Nurse Hat

Fold/Cut a paper plate in half. Let your child draw the red cross in the center (if this is a skill being learned like it is at our home draw the lines so she can see what is expected). Then use sentence strip paper or cut a long strip of card stock/poster board and attach to the plate. Staple or paperclip the ends together and you have a nurse hat!

Felt Bandaids
Paper Towel Roll Cast
Nurse Hat
Visual directions to guide your child through each craft.

Snack Ideas

Bandaid Sandwiches: Used bread, icing, strawberry jam. Cut a piece of bread into rectangular strips (alternatives: vanilla wafer or piece of graham cracker). On the center of the bread make a rectangle out of the icing. Now add a small bit of strawberry jam (the blood). And that’s it! They’re ready to eat.

Fruit & Cheese Stethoscope: Use a slice of orange, two blueberries and cheese. The orange will act as the chest piece, cheese is the tubing (peel to separate at top), and blue berries are the ear tips.

Cheese Stick Thermometer: This one is incredibly Simple. Grab an unopened (mozzarella) cheese stick and draw a red circle on one end. Then draw a red line from the circle to the other end of the cheese stick. Using a black sharpie make line going across the red line. You’ve got a cheese stick thermometer! Want to get the kids involved? You could try this with icing ON opened the cheese stick.

Visual directions to let your child help create their doctor snacks.

Do you have any other activities you love to do with your child before a doctor’s appointment?

Want the sensory bin and pretend play supports, visual directions, and visual recipes? Click the image below!

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