D.I.Y Child Life

Heat up your hot glue! A website devoted to creating your own teaching dolls and materials

DIY Visiting a loved one in jail/prison

Having a loved one in jail/prison can be confusing.  Trying to navigate an unfamiliar environment is made that much more difficult when children are involved.  However, visiting a loved one in jail is one way for families to stay connected.  This video address preparing a child for a “No Touch” visitation environment using two old landlines phones and a piece of plexi glass.


D.I.Y Blood Draw

Create your own doll to demonstrate blood draw. Filling the doll with colored water gives the opportunity to address coping, comfort positions, and alternative focus.  This can also lead to developmentally appropriate conversations about blood and the body’s ability to replenish and heal.

This one is thanks to a question posted on the Child Life Council list serve..


DIY Dentist

Many people experience fear and anxiety surrounding a dental visit.  By creating homemade dental tools and teeth, children explore what happens while developing  coping strategies that can lead to a positive dental visit and promote life long dental health.

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DIY Handwashing Song


Music is a great way to engage children in learning new skills or practicing old ones.  This song is part of my curriculum Germbusters! that teaches children good hand hygiene .  Kids can sing it while they wash or just a fun ditty to remember why to wash.

The song was written by Ruthanne Paulson of www.performingartsinspirations.com.  

Sung to the tune of Do Re Mi.

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DIY Anesthesia Mask

Normalizing and desensitizing threatening or scary items helps children to gain mastery and control while also having some fun. Turning an anesthesia mask into a bubble blower or a Lil’ critter allows the child to engage with the materials creatively through play, potentially leading to an increase in comfort and ability to cope with a new and unfamiliar experience and environment.

Shout out to Toni Crowell for reminding me of this one!!

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DIY Syringe Glitter Wands

Using medical equipment in non threatening ways helps children to gain mastery, normalize a medical encounter, while  having some fun. Use the wands to talk about the use of alternative focus for coping,  strategies for relaxation and guided imagery.  Adding a fun unique sequence or bead to the syringe allows children to create their own “I spy.”

Keep watching for the extra bonus…. Fill a larger 20 cc syringe with colored frosting and use in decorating cookies or cupcakes.  Fun and delicious!!

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D.I.Y Radiation Room

Often the hardest part about getting radiation treatments for many children is the separation from parents.  Using a “magic string” to connect the child and  his parent can offer a coping strategy and a way to connect the child and parent both figuratively and literally.   To create your own treatment room you will need shoe boxes, scissors, string, glue gun and I use the operating room set up from Playmobile but any small people and parts will do.

This idea can easily be adapted for any test or procedure where a child is separated from his parent. For example: X-ray

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Portacath Teaching Doll

Portacaths and other central line devices are often used to administer chemotherapy, medications for chronic conditions, or antibiotics. By creating a doll with a portacath allows for exploration of materials, develop coping strategies, and clear up any potential misconceptions.

All you need to make this doll is a scissors, glue gun, and cap to a paint bottle preferably one with a hole in it already. If you have a portacath needle you can use that by removing the needle and hot gluing the protective plastic cover in its place. If not use your imagination to determine a base , I used a screw cover from a child’s easel. Using a small juice box straw as the “needle” glue to the inside of your “base” as shown in the video.


G-Tube Button Teaching Doll

Making a doll for a child to keep at bedside or to take home allows them to continue to learn, play, and develop coping strategies in a non threatening environment.  The child is provided the opportunity to become the “expert” of his illness by showing it to siblings, friends or classmates at school.

Materials you need for this D.I.Y project is a doll or stuffed animal, scissors, hot glue gun, and the valve to a beach ball or inner tube.


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