When my girls were younger, one of their favorite games to play was “Doctor” with their baby dolls. They would spend hours diagnosing and treating various ailments in their babies from the stomach flu to broken bones. They would take turns being the receptionist, the nurse, the doctor, the pharmacist and of course, the mom. Play Hospital is a delightful app that brings that kind of dramatic play to your iPad. Just like my daughters’ childhood game, children can explore various rooms of a hospital and role-play as they schedule, diagnose, dispense medications and treat the adorable characters in this app.
By touching the arrows on the edges of the screen, children can explore 5 different rooms in a play hospital: Admission, the Doctor’s Office, the Treatment Room, the Waiting Room, and the Pharmacy. You can enter the Doctor’s Office and the Treatment room from the Admission room and the arrows are located above the doors to those rooms. I point that out because they were difficult for my family to spot. In each room there are various objects that respond to a child’s touch on the screen. There are toys to play with, light switches to turn on and off, medical tools such as stethoscopes that they can use to diagnose and even shots to give! My children’s favorite room (and mine) was the Pharmacy. Here the parent gives the prescription to the pharmacist who then fills the medication and gives it back to the parent. Then, the parent gives it to the child and turns a frowning, sick child into a happy, healthy one! There is also an option screen where you can choose to play with a little boy or a little girl and a mom or a dad.
One of the biggest benefits of this app is that it is a great way to introduce young children to a medical setting in a very fun, non-threatening way. What is often a fearful and intimidating setting for children is transformed into a colorful and activity-filled adventure. I would recommend playing this app with your child and using it as a tool to explain the different parts of the hospital and the people they would encounter there so that when they experience it for real, they feel more prepared and less afraid. I also love the way there are so many things in each room that respond to the child’s touch. My 2-year old was delighted to watch the fish in the fish tank swim around when he touched it or the lights switch on and off as he touched the switch.
While nothing can replace good, old-fashioned dramatic play in childhood this app does a great job providing an alternative when you are away from home. This is a very simple app, but provides hours of fun nonetheless. I would definitely recommend it for younger children, probably ages 2 – 6 as I think older children would grow bored with the activities faster. Play Hospital is a wonderful way to introduce children to hospitals or doctor’s offices and a fun way to pass the time while you are waiting there!