Nurses’ Day

International Nurses’ Day

Florence Nightingale, who was born on May 12, 1820, is known as the founder of modern nursing.

Did you know that today is Florence Nightingale’s birthday? She was born on May 12, 1820. She is known as the founder of modern nursing, so we celebrate nurses on her birthday. May 12 is known as International Nurses’ Day. Below are activities that all have a Nurse/Health theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Each theme also comes with recommended literature and movie connections. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else! 

Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity – Hearts for Heroes

For this activity, you’ll need to collect some coloring/art materials and paper.


  • With your coloring materials and paper, create a heart-shaped image.
  • Inside the heart, write the name of a nurse (or doctor) that has taken care of you. When Miss Jen was a kid, her favorite nurse was Nurse Gail. She always made sure Miss Jen received a sticker when she visited the doctor’s office.
  • You can send that heart to the museum where we will display it on the front window, you can stick it on your own window or door, or you can mail it to the doctor’s office where the nurse will see it for themselves!
Science Experiment – Hand Washing Basics

One of the things Florence Nightingale was most well-known for was encouraging hygiene. Ms. Nightingale implemented handwashing and other hygiene practices in the war hospital in which she worked during the Crimean War.

You might remember this experiment from early March! If not, follow along with this fun hands-on science demo about why we use soap and water to wash our hands! You can also participate using things you’ll find in your kitchen. For this experiment, you will need the following: 

  • A bowl or pan of water
  • Black pepper (ask your adult)
  • Dish soap
  • Your fingers
  • Paper towel

Fill the bowl with water. Sprinkle black pepper on the top of the water. Imagine the pepper is germs. Place your finger on the surface of the water. Observe what happens. Now put a drop of dish soap on your finger. Place your finger back on the surface of the water. Observe what happens.

NOTE: Though soap does clean our hands and remove germs, this experiment is actually about surface tension. The science behind it is that soap breaks up water molecules’ ability to hold together, which causes them to break their links, thereby spreading out. The pepper helps you see the break. This experiment is an excellent analogy for what soap does to germs. Soap helps break down grease, oil, dirt, and germs, and removes them all with water, leaving our hands clean and safe.

Physical Activity – Dress Like a Nurse

Get some of those wiggles out while learning a little about protective gear for nurses and medical staff. Time yourself while putting everything on! 

  • Wash your hands first (20 seconds, with soap!)
  • Put on scrubs (maybe pajamas) and/or jacket
  • Put on a mask (could be a bandana or face mask)
  • Put on gloves (it’s okay if you don’t have medical gloves – try it with winter gloves!)

How fast can you do it? In under two minutes? Can you do it in under a minute?

Now try the whole thing again, in reverse, but in between each action, do 10 jumping jacks or run in place! 

Note: Sequence order taken from the CDC recommended document here!

Conversation Starters and Research Questions

  • Lots of people who help us stay safe wear masks or other special equipment. Think about doctors and nurses, dentists, police officers, and firefighters. All of these people wear special gear. What is important about their gear? Why do they wear it?
  • You might not be a nurse, so you might not wear the same kind of protective gear, but we bet you have some protective gear of your own. Do you wear a raincoat when it rains? Or boots in the snow? Do you wear padding for soccer or a glove for baseball? Will you wear sunscreen or a hat when you play outside in the summer? Or floaties in the swimming pool? What gear protects you?
  • When we think of nurses, sometimes we think of getting shots or scary tests they might make us take. But we should also think about all the times they help us feel better – like when they give us medicine when we’re sick, or stickers when we are brave. Talk about the good experiences you have had with nurses.
  • Do you know a nurse? Ask them what kind of training they went through or their favorite part of being a nurse. Did they ever want to be anything else when they were growing up? 

Videos and Websites

Movie/Literature Connection:

Because we know you’re stuck at home with limited access to movies and books, we tried to compile a list that connects to today’s theme that you might already have in your collection or be able to access online. These include: