This week I got a letter from Magical Mama Helen in Australia, looking for ideas on how to make hospital stays a little easier. Her four year-old sweetie, Asha Rose, has Cystic Fibrosis. She just completed her first hospital stay and has more in her future (along with time at home with nursing care and IV’s and such). She has an older son to keep entertained, as well.
Victoria helped me brainstorm some ideas on how to make the time in bed a little more fun. We thought we’d do several installments. Here are the first 15 ideas. Please write in and share your own suggestions too!
- Do altered books. Here’s a page I wrote up about altering books on the Magical Childhood site a while back. The link to our own pages is expired. If anybody wants to see some examples of our pages, let me know and I’ll post some.
- Read really fabulous read-aloud books. Some of our favorites at that age were the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, the Paddington Bear series, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Pippi Longstocking and Amelia Bedelia books.
- Bring a tape recorder and do interviews with each other. Also record her singing songs, telling jokes, acting out funny made up characters and other silly fun. Kids tend to especially love hearing their own voices back. You can also ask loved ones to tape themselves reading sweet poems, telling stories or singing songs.
- Make pretty flower pens to keep and to give as presents. Get some artificial flowers and some ballpoint pens, along with some floral tape, masking tape or even duct tape. Cut the flowers till the stems are just a couple of inches long and tape flush to the end of the pen. Now nobody can accidentally walk off with your pen, and it makes writing even the most boring thing into something fancy and fun!
- Wrap up little gifts so that each day in the hospital she has another little treat to unwrap.
- To make it even more special, make miniature pinatas to smash open every day! Use strips of newspaper or crepe paper dipped in watered down glue to papier mache over blown up water balloons, leaving a hole at the tied end to put the treat in. Let dry for a few days, pop the balloon and pull it out, fill with a little treat and glue a piece of crepe paper over the hole. Here’s a variation to try, too. Ideas for treats– a glass prism to hang in the window, lip gloss, a ring, a foreign coin, mini bubbles, a pretty shell, a tiny doll or an animal figurine. This is something that older siblings could help out with, too.
- Give her pony beads and pipe cleaners to make bracelets.
- Glue a large piece of felt to an empty cereal box and then cut lots of clothing shapes out of different colors of felt to make a portable fashion design kit. Cut a couple of people and draw some faces on them in permanent marker and then use different colors to cut various types of hair, shirts, pants, skirts, hats, accessories, you name it. Make sure to make some elaborate and silly! Store them in the box when not in use.
- Make magic wands from sticks or dowels and magic markers, paint pens, ribbon, etc.
- Bring a laptop and watch funny animal videos on you-tube.
- Give her some plain white tennies and washable markers and let her decorate her shoes and then rinse them in water to start over next time.
- For more permanent fashion, give her a few plain, light colored shirts and an assortment of permanent markers. Let her draw and decorate them to her heart’s content and then spray them with vinegar to set. These may still fade somewhat. You can use fabric pens if you want something really pemanent.
- Print out some really fabulous paper dolls from movies, fantasy and history. I’ve posted this site before but it is my all-time favorite.
- Get a big pack of crayons and paper and give out art assignments (draw an animal nobody’s ever seen before, draw a silly hairstyle…).
- While the kids are asleep, decorate the living room (or hospital room) with streamers, confetti and a big banner that announces a made up holiday.