Library Programs

Imaginary Veterinary: Dramatic Play at the Library

My library has an awesome collection of dramatic play setups, because we use them in our annual kindergarten visits (local classes visit the library for a tour, storytime and time to play). Over the last ten years or so, we’ve developed 7 different themes. We set up our program room to look like an imaginary grocery store, pizza parlor, etc., include activities that encourage early literacy skill building, and let them do their thing. It’s adorable to watch. The supplies sit in storage most of the year, so we’re always looking for ways to incorporate them into other programs. Thus, I bring you our recent summer program Imaginary Veterinary!*

Busy exam room (Ela Library dramatic play program)
The exam rooms, with pet owners and vets.

Katie and I did the program together because it requires a lot of setup and is easier to do with two people (and we both love to do dramatic play programs, so this way we didn’t have to arm wrestle to determine which of us could do the program). It was a 45-minute program for kids going into grades K-2.

The program started with Katie reading aloud Say Hello to Zorro by Carter Goodrich, Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown, and Veterinarians in Our Community by Michelle Ames. Then she talked with the kids about what a veterinarian is, why you’d visit a vet, what the vet does during a visit and the kind of things you’d find in a veterinarian office.

Then we went through the secret passage from one side of our program room to the other, into our imaginary veterinarian’s office! There was a front desk/receptionist, exam rooms with supplies, a grooming and feeding area, a farm with farm animals for the vets to make house calls to (we had traveling supply kits for them to take along), and an area for kids to choose their pet (along with leashes, carriers, purses–everything you need when you go to the vet!). A large part of why we do this is to encourage early literacy skill building, so the kids also had opportunities to write out the results of their exams as well as prescriptions, to write down appointments on a calendar, and to play with magnetic letters.


Magnetic sign: Welcome to the Ela Vet
Magnetic sign and x-rays
Veterinarian's office receptionist (Ela Library dramatic play program)
Receptionist with cash register, phone and appointment calendar. Also note the waiting room chairs off to the side.
Veterinarian supplies (Ela Library dramatic play program)
Supplies for the veterinarians to take on visits to see farm animals. There were prescription pads, forms for them to write down the results of their exam, stethoscopes, syringes, and more.
Frog's not doing so well (Ela Library dramatic play program)
We were informed that Frog wasn’t doing so well (the vet wasn’t sure he was going to make it). He had a bandaged arm and was having trouble breathing.
Cristal the husky (Ela Library dramatic play program)
An example of an examination form. Cristal the husky has some allergies to trees.
Exam room (Ela Library dramatic play program)
Animals waiting in the exam rooms for their checkups.
Blood pressure (Ela Library dramatic play program)
We had a separate farm area set up for the vets to make visits to. This girl is checking the cow’s blood pressure.
Feeding and grooming (Ela Library dramatic play program)
This area was for feeding and grooming your pets.

After the kids had played for about 25 minutes, we brought them back to the other side of the room to make a craft (a cat face made out of cardstock circles, with paper whiskers, ears, and noses, and huge googly eyes). Then it was time to go!

Next month we’re doing a similar program with our pretend pizza parlor, so look for a post on that in a few weeks.

*Yes, we did borrow that title from Suzanne Selfors’ series of the same name, although one has nothing to do with the other. Though those are great middle-grade books.

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