S is for Surgery Pretend Play

preschool anatomy surgery pretend play
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jello and toy human organ preschool sensory bin
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pretend play surgery sensory bin

I may have even out-weirded myself in this activity. When you ask your husband to help you fill a human torso mannequin with JELL-O and toy human organs so the kids can pretend they are surgeons, it may be time for some self-evaluation. Of course, it's true love when your husband doesn't bat an eye and actually suggests ideas to improve the process. We are weirdos meant for each other. The kiddos weren't shocked with this one and have asked to repeat the activity multiple times. Who knew a human torso mannequin could bring a family so close.


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  • JELL-O - We used 7 of the 6 ounce Cherry flavored packages.
  • Human Organs Safari Ltd. TOOB These are so rad! We've used them for tons of different learning activities.
  • Torso Mannequin Form Not required, but totally fun. You could use a storage tub or other sensory bin.
  • Plastic Knives (for scalpel)
  • Tongs
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Lab Coat
  • Medical Face Mask
  • Old Sheet or Surgical Drape
  • Metal Bowl or Pan
The Lowdown: 
  1. Follow package directions and make JELL-O. Prep your fridge to hold mannequin or bin.
  2. Prep your patient by laying him out on a flat surface.
  3. Pour JELL-O into the patient (or bin) leaving about two inches of room on the top. Our mannequin had a spot for a hanger at the top, so we had to make sure we didn't overfill and liquid would fall out.
  4. Throw in your toy human organs.
  5. Carefully take the mannequin and put in the fridge. Let setup for 4-5 hours.
  6. Cover table top with sheet and layout your patient. Dress the kiddos as surgeons. Provide tongs, plastic knives, gloves, masks, and a metal bowl to catch the organs during surgery.

At this point, we let the kiddos go for it. They were very dainty when it came to cutting the JELL-O open, but they soon got into removing the organs with the tongs. It took a lot of coordination and strength to find the organs and remove them. We discussed the names of the organs and why each one was important to our bodies. We also talked about sterile surgical environments and why people may need surgery.

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pretend play surgery hands on anatomy lesson


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