This week I am going to give you some insight into how our hospital at Pop Up Play Village came about and what educational benefits our little customers get that come and play each week.

I knew I needed a hospital in Pop Up Play Village from the very start, designing it was the tricky part. The accessories such as the hospital kits and dressing up clothes were very easy to find and added the final touches to the hospital. It was making it look like a hospital that made it tricky. How was I going to create a hospital that just pops up out of one box of equipment?

I started searching the internet in search of a way of making the hospital beds. After days of searching and thinking about it, I found the blue folding yoga mats that make our hospital beds! I was thrilled to have found them. They are perfect! Not only do they fold up nicely taking up little storage in our van, they also enable adults as well as children to be patients. I could not ask for more in a hospital bed! I then accessorised them with pillows and white blankets to make them look as close to what a hospital bed really looks like.

As soon as I had located the hospital beds and ordered the dressing up costumes, I knew that the hospital needed to be colour coded blue. This then led to many of the role play areas being colour coded! In the waiting area, the chairs needed to be blue and the tablecloth for the reception desk also had to be blue of course.

Once I had got the waiting area sorted and the hospital beds and accessories bought, I knew I was nearly there but something was missing. For the children to feel like real doctors and nurses, they needed to have x rays to use and real bandages to use on their patients. For the x rays, I very carefully selected different parts of the body so that children can put all of the x rays together to create the whole body. The x rays have been a real hit in the hospital and have been such a fantastic way to introduce and talk about different parts of the bodies with our children. The bandages are fantastic. I have seen adults being fully bandaged by their children and I have seen such a variety of injuries being cured by these bandages!

After all of this, I felt that the hospital was complete. However, when I did a dummy run of the play village before we launched the business, I felt that the hospital was still missing something. My kids and my brothers’ kids had a great time testing it for me but they all wanted to be doctors and there was no patient! I realised I needed some rag dolls so that children could be doctors and nurses without needing a patient, they could use a doll as a patient. Locating the rag dolls was not as easy it is sounded, I wanted large rag dolls so that they could realistically look like a child size patient. The girl rag dolls were easy enough to find but the boy rag dolls are so hard to find. My Jim doll came from a lady who was selling rag dolls that she makes at home as a hobby. I was so lucky to find this lady! After locating my Jim doll, the hospital was complete.

After a year of running Pop Up Play Village, my sister in law who is a doctor mentioned to me that having real stethoscopes in the hospital would be great. I absolutely loved this idea and within the same day ordered some. Of course, they had to be blue to match the blue colour coding of the hospital!

The hospital is great fun and I never get bored of watching children use their imaginations in this role play area. There is so much learning to be had. It really brings out and encourages caring for others despite whether a child is helping a rag doll or an actual person it is promoting and strengthening these qualities. As well as this, the development of first aid skills is brilliant in this area which is greatly helped with having real stethoscopes and bandages to test out these skills. Our telephone is a popular accessory and it goes all over the play village! It allows children to develop their communication skills with others and it is always brilliant to see a child chatting away on the phone!

As you can see, I do really love the hospital and I hope those of you who have been to Pop Up Play Village love it too!

Written by Becky Hoare, Creator of Pop Up Play Village