Going to the doctor can be really scary for our first grade students, especially post-COVID.
But it doesn't have to be.
Your science time is the perfect time to teach your first grade students about how to take care of their bodies and what to expect when they go to the doctor.
Talking about what a doctor does is a great opportunity to tie in community helpers (social studies) and also what they want to be when they grow up.
I always end this unit with a creative writing activity where students imagine what it would be like to be a doctor. We go through an entire visualization routine where they close their eyes and imagine what their day would be like!
In this post, I outline all of the different types of activities that I use to teach my first grade students about staying healthy and going to the doctor!
Learning Facts about Doctor for First Grade
As I mentioned earlier, first grade students SHOULD be familiar with how to take care of their bodies and how to stay healthy.
At this point, they should have two full years in school and be familiar with how to reduce the spread of germs.
However, you would be surprised how many first grade students have never had a proper lesson about how to stay healthy and what to expect when they visit the doctor.
Even scarier to our first grade students might be the types of tools that doctors may use.
So, I start this unit with some basic vocabulary: doctor, stethoscope, thermometer, wheel chair, etc.
You can see two of my favorite activities about going to the doctor on the left.
We start with a Fill in the Blank “Hospital Tools” activity, which is very straight forward and great to do right after we introduce vocabulary!
Then, my absolute favorite is “Going to the Doctor” because the bottom half of the activity is open ended and can take so many different directions!
If you want to make it easier, have students draw and label.
If you want to make it harder, have students write 3+ complete sentences.
You can really make this activity as basic or advanced as you want to!
It's also a great activity to put in your writing station. By adding it into your writing station, you are savings that extra 15 minutes at the end of the day that you would normally spend on your science lesson!
Learning about Doctors and People at a Hospital
Learning about the doctor for first grade students offers two great opportunities.
First, students learn what a doctor does. This helps them not be so anxious when they do go visit the doctor for a check up or if they are sick.
Second, this provides an opportunity for students to start thinking about future job opportunities. They can put themselves in a doctor's shoes and write about what their job would be like if they were a doctor.
Not only that, but it also offers an opportunity to talk about different kinds of doctors.
Some doctors work in a doctor's office while others work at a hospital. I like to teach my first graders the difference in these two places because a doctor's job/function is very different depending on where they are.
This is also a great time to talk about other people a first grade student might see at the doctor: nurse, pharmacist and other patients.
Going to the Doctor Interactive Journals
Once we have spent a few days learning about how to take care of our teeth, I assign my students an interactive journal.
Interactive journals are a great activity to practice fine motor skills. It's also different and a little more fun than “just another worksheet”.
The interactive journal you see on the right is my favorite because students have to compare and contrast good and bad habits for taking care of your teeth.
You can differentiate this to meet the needs of all of your students by setting your expectations. You can have students simply draw and label, or for more of a challenge, you can have students write 2-3 sentences.
Doctor Visits in First Grade
As I mentioned earlier, since this is around the time that first grade students start losing their teeth, I love to wrap up this dental health unit by writing about the tooth fairy.
You can see one my favorite books for this writing assignment on the left called “You Think It's easy Being the Tooth Fairy?“.
We read this book together, then I have students write what it would be like to be the tooth fairy.