As many of my students are now turning 5, they are going for their 5 year physicals. This brought about a huge interest in going to the doctor and getting shots. We started talking about doctors and exploring this idea further. We brought in books and doctor tools for them to use to see if this would be a lasting idea for our next study.
Unfortunately, soon after these provocations were put out, I ended up in the hospital for a week and a half. I had to laugh at myself at times during my stay as whenever there was anything I could collect I would do it; " oh, that EKG print out has an error, can I have it?" I truly knew I was fully immersed in this type of learning when I was lying on the examining table about to be put under for a test and I started asking the doctors in the room who would be willing to come and talk to my preschoolers about being a doctor and did they think we could come to the hospital on a field trip, and wouldn't it be cool to show my students the camera they were about to use, and.....luckily they controlled the anesthesia and were able to put me out before I could get them to commit. :-)
I am persistent, though, and left my hospital visit with phone numbers and emails of the doctors willing to work with us.
Unfortunately, I was away from my classroom for two weeks, but when I came back I was able to take on the role of expert as a patient and the children were able to ask a lot of questions. We put my collections right to work in our dramatic play center and they immediately wanted me to be the patient again. I had to really force myself to play with them as they taped my hospital bracelets back on me and simulated the EKG machine wires that we had talked about, as I just wanted to be as far removed from these experiences as possible.
However, this was a great way for them to make sense of where I was and what had been happening to me while I was gone. It was also a very nice way for the children and me to reconnect. Some of them were scared about whether or not I was contagious and if they would end up in the hospital. Our play was a comfortable way to give reassurance where it was needed. They asked amazing questions and their interest in this topic was sparked anew.
We were able to have a dad come in to talk to us who is a physician's assistant. The best part of having a parent as your expert is that he was so willing to stay and play with us. This is even more valuable than the time he spent talking to them and answering their questions. His time in our dramatic play center elevated their play to a new level of detail that is still being explored a week after his visit.
Monday we have a mom coming in who is a nurse. She has been working on child safe ways to address all of their questions about shots.
As you dive into your project topics, make sure to include your parents. I find that they are by far, the best resource.