Maxwell is part of a preschool co-op this school year. The group consists of six children, two girls and four boys. We do a weekly number, letter, color, and theme. For more of our preschool lesson plans, click here.
When I first found out that it would be my turn to teach Maxwell's little preschool group when the theme was "doctors and hospitals," my ideas were limited. Usually I use books as the starting point for my preparation, but I couldn't think of any good doctor books (aside from the "classic" The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor, which you will indeed see featured later on).
So I considered it nothing short of providential when I checked my email (after finally getting internet set up at our new house) and found a review request from Dr. Stephanie Cox, a pediatrician, who had written a book called, My Doctor and Me ABC.
I hurried off a reply, fearing I was too late since preschool was less than a week away. But Dr. Cox (bless her!) put it in the mail immediately, and it arrived just in time.
As the title suggests, the book explores the doctor's office through the ABC's (for once, "X is for X-ray" didn't seem like a cop out), with each page focusing on one letter: D is for Diagnosis, O is for Otoscope, etc.
One of the things I loved about this book was that it introduced a lot of medical terms to the children: uvula, abdomen, physician, fracture, and others. As I read the book to the preschool kids, we stopped and discussed some of these in greater detail.
The illustrations are simple and nondescript. They enhance the text without distracting. The text is informative and told in catchy rhymes. This is just the right kind of informational book for 3-5 year-olds. It worked great for our preschool co-op, and I think it would be perfect for kids who are a little bit nervous about visiting the doctor.
(Side note: until recently, it was only available as an e-book, but now, as you can see from above, there is a paperback version available. My kids have looked at and listened to it many times, and it even made Aaron and Maxwell decide to examine each other's uvulas!)
After the story, we worked on this worksheet about the letter X . I have to say I've been impressed with how much the writing skills of all the children have improved over the course of the school year.
We finished the worksheet just in time for a visit from a very special guest. A few weeks before, I had asked my good friend, Jen (an internal medicine physician), if she would be willing to come talk to the kids about what it's like to be a doctor.
She came in an official looking white coat with a trusty stethoscope draped around her neck (and accompanied by her adorable daughter), and she was definitely the highlight of the day.
She talked to the kids about what it takes to be a doctor: years of schooling, practicing skills, reading huge, heavy textbooks, etc.
She brought bandages so they could wrap up each other's injures:
Those who wanted to could don a germ-concealing mask:
Then she pulled out her reflex hammer and tested all the kids' reflexes (which they all thought was super funny):
She listened to their heartbeats and then let them listen to each other's and also to their own. She pulled out an otoscope and showed them how it worked. And then, the crowning event, she gave each of them a bandaid, which just shows that besides being a doctor, she also understands that preschoolers don't need a reason to wear a bandaid. It was so nice of her to come spend the afternoon with us, and it really helped the kids learn what goes on in a doctor's office without feeling any sort of anxiety or pressure.
By that time, the kids were hungry, so we paused for a quick snack. I wanted something that would be healthy, so we went with apple slices (you know, "an apple a day . . . "). Since we had also just celebrated St. Patrick's Day the day before, I also wanted something green. So I made these Popeye Muffins, which get their vibrant green color from spinach.
I was fortunate enough to have another mom helping me, so for our next activity, I actually split up the kids into two groups.
One of the groups worked on these skeletons (i.e., full body x-rays) made from Q-tips.
I lightly drew white lines on the paper ahead of time so that the kids would know where to glue the Q-tips if they wanted a little help. I actually thought several of them would want to use the blank side of the paper and make their skeletons a little different from the design I drew. But they all went with my version, so all of the skeletons ended up looking almost exactly the same. Oh well.
Meanwhile, I brought the other kids back into the living room for a little imaginative play. When I was a kid, my siblings and I were crazy about Playmobil. For years, we diligently saved our money for months at a time until we had enough to buy a new set. When I started planning this preschool lesson, I remembered that I had the operating and recovery rooms stored away at my parents' house, and I begged my mom to mail them to me so the kids could play with them.
They had so much fun, and it was definitely a good idea to split them up into smaller groups so there wasn't any fighting over various pieces.
On the second day of preschool, we began by reading this favorite:
I know the Berenstain Bears can be very divisive--either you love them or you hate them. I happen to love them, as long as they're the ones from the 70's and 80's. Many of the children had heard this book before, but it totally captured their interest anyway.
After the story, we talked about the heart. I showed them pictures from the First Human Body Encyclopedia. And then we watched this short video about how blood travels in and out of the heart. Then I gave the kids this picture of the heart to color.
Then we learned a little bit about muscles. I found this idea for a bicep/tricep model but thought it would be too difficult for the kids to assemble on their own. So I asked Mike (my husband) if he'd make one for each child.
After we talked about the way the muscles move to let their arms bend and straighten, they traced and cut out their hands and attached them to the model.
Then they spent some time stretching them back and forth.
The rest of the morning was spent with a snack (it was the day before one boy's birthday, so we had cheese and crackers because he loves cheese), rotating the groups from the day before (with the skeleton and the Playmobil) and playing outside.