Taking Medical Play to a new level with Parker, Your Augmented Reality Bear

Seedling's Parker the Bear.jpg

We just took medical play to another level with Seedling’s Parker, Your Augmented Reality Bear. Child life specialists use medical play every day to prepare kids for procedures, help them process their experiences and just explore the materials in a non-threatening way.

We have also been adapting our coping techniques with the advancements in technology, by using tablets and virtual reality goggles to distract kids during painful procedures.

Parker is now helping us combine these two modalities together and enhance the therapeutic experience for young patients.

My kids and I had the opportunity to play with Parker and we loved him. Coming from a child life specialist’s perspective, I thought that the app’s games and activities were engaging for young kids (2-8 years old) and that the augmented reality was very unique.

There were only four medical play tools, a stethoscope, spoon, medicine tube and thermometer. I would have loved to have seen more, including a syringe or injection device. I also thought about infection control with the plush teddy bear and felt body outline. I know that many specialists use cloth patient puppets and follow hospital guidelines by using disinfecting wipes, so that could be an option for Parker. It may also be machine washed. The felt body outline could probably be coated with a laminate, to wipe down between uses.

Parker, Your Augmented Reality Bear

More about Parker:

Seedling, the LA-based startup with a mission to reimagine play, has today unveiled Parker: the world’s first augmented reality (AR) teddy bear. Parker comes to life when used with an iPad or iPhone and the accompanying free Parker App, which allows kids to have an immersive experience through which they learn empathy, problem solving and open-ended play skills, all while developing digital literacy. Parker is immediately available exclusively at Apple.com and in Apple stores in select countries.

Parker is a classic teddy bear made extraordinary through the magic of Augmented Reality. Parker the bear is all plush and fluff —no batteries, no cameras, no Wi-Fi. Parker is just like the teddy bears we grew up with; soft, squeezable and perfect for pretend play. Add an iPhone or iPad and use the app to interact with Parker and the world of make believe comes to life.

Parker offers an engaging open-ended experience for children ages three and up. By using the app and your iPad or iPhone to interact with Parker and the enclosed tools, caregiving is transformed into an interactive experience. The more you play with and care for Parker, the more magical your world becomes as Parker’s Happiness FactorTM grows. Surprises and additional play features are revealed, including interactive games to play and puzzles to solve.

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Meet Rabbit Ray: A Teaching Tool for Hospitalized Children

Rabbit Ray 2

While attending the Child Life Council Conference in Orlando, I had the opportunity to stop by Joytingle’s booth in the exhibit hall and meet Esther, the founder, and inventor of Rabbit Ray.

Esther was volunteering in a children’s hospital in Singapore when she noticed a very common theme with the patients, their fear of needles. She decided to create a teaching tool to help explain medical procedures for kids receiving an IV, vaccination and blood test.


I’ll let her explain this fantastic teaching tool:

She has also teamed up with the National University Hospital to create an oncology educational doll.

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Click here to purchase your Rabbit Ray today.

Be sure to follow Joytingle on Facebook and Twitter or contact them by email at Hello@Joytingle.com


DIY Pre-Op Medical Play Materials

Working in private practice, I don’t have access to a medical closet that is filled with supplies to teach kids about an upcoming procedure, therefore I have to get really creative with loose parts.

I would encourage all child life specialists to incorporate this with patients, as it helps to deepen their thought process and gain mastery. They can build and manipulate with everyday materials to understand an illness, medical procedure or treatment. It is something that the whole family can do to open up the dialogue about what they are experiencing and strengthen coping strategies.

Here are the pre-op materials that I used for an eight-year-old having surgery.

Photo of a real pulse oximeter:

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Loose Parts version:

DIY PulseOx

Materials used: light-up finger toys (found at the Dollar Store), old computer cord, and an ace bandage.

Photo of EKG Stickers:images-1

Loose Parts Version:


Materials used: wires, furniture pads, double-sided adhesive.

Photo of an IV Needle and Catheter:


Loose Parts Version:

DIY IVNeedle

Materials used: ballpoint pen and a plastic fork.

Photo of IV tubing and bag:

CM9216Loose Parts Version:

DIY IVBag Materials used: tubing, packaging airbag, iv catheter, tape and small rubber piece from a toy.

When I met with the patient, I gave her the opportunity to create a brace and crutches for her surgi doll. She and her mother used pipe cleaners, velcro, ace bandage, and shoe heel pads to create this.


So don’t get discouraged if you don’t have all the real medical materials to teach with, just create with what you find in your home or playroom.

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