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:

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 12.10.55 PM

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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DIY Medical Play: Butterfly Needle

Medical preparation is a big part of a child life specialist’s job, but what happens if you don’t have the exact tools needed?

You make it using loose parts!

Working in private practice, I don’t have access to the nurses’ closet, so I had to be creative in making a butterfly needle this week.


Here is what I found around my house, blue painter’s tape, cardboard box, medicine cup, lanyard, plastic fork, bead and the plastic insert for a screw.

DIY Butterfly Needle

With the help of scissors and a hot glue gun, I came up with this:

DIY Butterfly Needle 2Not bad, right?

Remember that using loose parts with a child is also a great way for them to deepen their learning process of diagnosis, treatment or test. Provide them with materials and let them figure out a way to create it.

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#BuildYourToolkit Giveaway!



Bums and Beans has partnered with Child Life Mommy to offer this limited edition Hospital Cuddle Toy and Surgi Dolls to help you Build Your Toolkit. 

This is perfect for child life specialists, educators, play therapists, social workers and parents, so help spread the word.

Giveaway will be open from 10/3-10/5. Winner announced on Monday,10/6
1. Follow Child Life Mommy  and Bums and Beans on Instagram
2. Post this Image to your IG Account, tag @bumsandbeans and two IG friends
3. Use the following hashtags – #BuildYourToolkit #giveaway

Post the image as many times as you wish 10/3-10/5, 11:59PM, EST. Make sure to tag and use the hashtags or we won’t be able to see your entries. The more posts the more chances you have to win. Don’t forget if you are chosen and you are set to private we will not be able to contact you unless you accept our follow request. If you are set to private please let us know in the comments when you enter. Winner will be announced Monday,10/6 by 1:30pm, EST. Open to US Residents only. Good luck!

bums and beans

Bums and Beans is an online children’s boutique specializing in limited edition handmade gifts for little ones. Bums and Beans makes everything from headwraps for babes and moms, cuddle pillows and dolls, bibs, teething blankets, and mobiles. Everything is made in a limited edition format normally 25 or less so you know you are not getting the run of the mill baby gift or décor for your nursery.



Amanda Perez-Morris is the Mommy/Owner behind Bums and Beans. Amanda has always been a “maker” at heart and found her passion as a young girl while painting along with Bob Ross Saturday mornings on PBS. After many years of trying basically any art form under the sun, Amanda has returned to her roots in painting and textile arts and she couldn’t be happier. If there is one lesson that she takes with her into motherhood it’s that she wants to have something of her own that isn’t just a hobby but something she is passionate about doing that she can pass on to her little lady. After Hazel Clementine was born, Amanda wanted to focus on making items that Hazel would wear or use during the ever-changing stages of development. Options that didn’t always include pink and purple (don’t worry, sh still offer a little of each) that could allow her to have her own style and teach her to make a statement. As the shop has evolved Amanda has ventured into not only baby accessories, but now has a line of nursery décor and dolls that she has released.

Connection with Child Life:

The Perez-Morris family has a special place in their hearts for Child Life Specialists. During pregnancy, Amanda developed Obstetric Cholestasis (a liver disorder) and Hazel Clementine decided to enter this world five weeks early. Even though Amanda managed to have a natural birth, Hazel was rushed to the NICU and immediately hooked up to every monitor and tube you can imagine as her bilirubin levels were off the charts those first few days. As new parents, Amanda and her husband Tyler had no choice but to trust the doctors, nurses, and Child Life Specialists that were kind enough to drop in and answer their many questions. At her local hospital the Child Life Specialist is a combo position where they also act as a Social Worker to help counsel parents into the realities their tiny babies face over those first few weeks and months. It was the Child Life Specialist who educated us that the NICU had two overnight rooms for parents of children who were required to stay in the NICU for longer than the allotted amount covered by the insurance company. Each morning during rounds, the doctors, nurses, and Child Life Specialists would conduct a review and nominate who they thought might benefit from receiving those rooms. Because Hazel was being breastfed it was extremely important that Amanda be allowed to stay as close as possible for the around the clock feedings to occur. It was the Child Life Specialist who would come in before her shift started each morning to put their names into the pool for the overnight rooms. Because of her they never had to be more than a few feet away from Hazel and were able to foster the bond necessary to start the feeding process. Thankfully, after a few days in a light therapy bed under the amazing care of the entire team at the Intermountain Medical Center NICU in Murray, Utah, Hazel was released from the hospital and has been growing strong ever since.

Where to find Bums and Beans


Instagram: @bumsandbeans

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