Do your kids love pretend as much as my kids do? My children just love taking on new roles and playing. Some days they are super heroes. Many days they play “family” and act as the moms to their baby dolls. Other days they are acting out their favorite fairy tales, like Goldilocks. But what if we could harness that imagination to create eco-conscious kids? That is exactly what I set out to do with my children a few weeks ago when I created a veterinarian role play to for eco-conscious kids.
Read along to find out how we created this role play simulation and what the children can learn from this type of activity!
This wasn’t a hugely elaborate affair. I’m a home-schooling mom who juggles a blog, social media for the family business, and graduate school; I don’t have time for a complicated activity. But let me assure you, the kids didn’t need anything elaborate to enjoy and learn from this role play!
I didn’t do much to prepare our space; I simply dedicated an area for the veterinarian office as part of our center time. There, I set out stuffed animals that related to our unit (giraffe, lion, owl, bunny, etc.), but you can use any stuffed animal that you have. I also provided them with their medical tools from their vet & doctor kits. If you don’t have these, don’t fret! There are lots of ways to DIY some fun tools. Stay tuned.
For each animal, I provided the child role playing the vet with a story of their ailment that largely focused on human impact on environment. Then the kids would help the animals feel better.
Scenarios for Veterinarian Role Play
For this scenario, Marty the Monkey had gotten a hurt paw from a trap set by a hunter. His paw was hurt and he needed bandages and care.
We briefly talked about how animals can get hurt by traps– even ones that hunters aren’t trying to catch. Then the child went to town fixing up the animal.
Bandages are a pretty simply DIY if you do not have any reusable ones you could borrow for the activity. You can uses any rag or old t-shirt to cut up into strips for bandages that can be wrapped around the lions paw.
Tangled in Plastic
For this activity, we Pete the Penguin had gotten all tangled up in plastic while swimming in the ocean. The kids had to calm the penguin and get him untangled.
Our vet kit came with toy scissors (no blade), but if you don’t have toy scissors for your littles, you could make a fake pair out of cardboard. You can even make them open and close if you follow this tutorial from allinlltricks!
In this scenario, a giraffe was given food that hurts it’s belly. Animals can’t eat people food! So the vet had to help the animal with his belly ache. This involved a lot of temperature taking and feeding him the right food to keep things simply for my toddlers.
In this scenario, an owl had been found after firefighters put out a fire fighter. He inhaled all the smoke and needs a veterinarian to fix him up.
I’m not an expert on smoke inhalation any more than my toddlers are, but they used whatever tools they had in their kit to listen to the owl’s lungs and fix him up.
Don’t have a toy stethoscope? Use an old pair of earbuds and glue a circle to the end!
How Does This Role Play Inspire EcoConscious Kids?
Research tells us that a connection to nature and empathy are key predictors to pro-social, pro-environmental behaviors later in life (Barrable, 2019; Barrera-Hernández, et al, 2020). By having them act as community helpers and animal caregivers you are literally teaching your children how to care for animals.
We also know that increased knowledge about environmental issues is linked to a demonstration of pro-environmental behaviors (Borg, 2017). Weaving in the short discussion about human impact on the environment provides an opportunity for your learner to build this knowledge. These conversations introduced through the scenarios were VERY short, but they were a simple entry point to discussing human impact on the environment.
Your Little Will Love This Role Play
Your little is going to love taking on the role of veterinarian and taking care of animals! And this is a fantastic way for you to help them develop empathy and a sense of care for the animals in our environment.
Will you try this veterinarian role play to inspire eco-conscious kids in your home? Let us know in the comments!
If you are looking for more ways to inspire eco-conscious kids, check out our Eco Tots activity book!
Barrable, A. (2019). Refocusing environmental education in the early years: A brief introduction to a pedagogy for connection. Education sciences, 9(1), 61.
Barrera-Hernández, L. F., Sotelo-Castillo, M. A., Echeverría-Castro, S. B., & Tapia-Fonllem, C. O. (2020). Connectedness to nature: its impact on sustainable behaviors and happiness in children. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 276.
Borg, F. (2017). Caring for people and the planet: preschool children’s knowledge and practices of sustainability (Doctoral dissertation, Umeå University).