Book and Toy Hospital Box

Broken toys and ripped books are the norm in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. I used to throw all the “broken stuff” on my desk but it just added to the mess -and you know how important organization is to me!

Then I started using a box for damaged books and I called it a “Book Hospital”.

book and toy hospital box

Book and Toy Hospital Box

The purpose of the box was to alert me to books that needed some TLC so I could fix them and put them back into circulation in our classroom library. The book hospital was a great idea but I quickly realized that it needed to be tweaked to make it work in my classroom.

The first thing I noticed about the Book Hospital was that most of the books the kids put there weren’t really damaged. I would flip through the books looking for ripped pages or broken bindings and couldn’t find anything wrong.

I would ask “Who put this book here? Why did you put it here?” and the child would flip to a page that had a tiny little wrinkle or mark almost invisible to the human eye. I guess reading all those books about books was a good investment!

I decided to re-read some of our favorite titles (RIP Mr. Wiggles – he’s out of print) and then we sorted through a pile of books together as a whole class, some damaged and some not. Finally we discussed the reasons why each book was damaged or not damaged and placed the truly damaged books in the Book Hospital- problem solved.

But that still left me with another problem {I know, I’m high maintenance!} what about all the other things in our classroom that were broken? On my desk I had a toy car with a missing wheel, a piece of fruit from the dramatic play center with teeth marks {never fails}, and a hole punch from the writing center that wouldn’t punch.

I needed to get all this stuff off my desk and I really didn’t have room for two boxes of broken stuff so I changed the “Book Hospital” to a hospital for all broken items. And we all lived happily ever after…

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About Vanessa Levin

Vanessa is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping kids and teachers through her professional development sessions. Follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Pinterest.


  1. Jade McArthur says:

    This is a great site I just found the other day. It includes a print off book about taking care of books in your class. I am going to add it to my
    “I need a little TLC” box for damaged books and toys.

  2. Just curious… what do you do with all the items in the “Hospital”? Are the kids placing them in there to get fixed?

    • Yes, things that need to be fixed are placed in the box. I started using the box to get all the broken stuff off my desk. Now I just go through the box once a week and repair anything there.

  3. I like the idea of a “hospital” for broken items. I have had a special box for stray pieces (puzzle pieces, game pieces, etc.) so we can help them get back home. Now I need a hospital.

  4. Heidi Butkus says:

    Very nice, Vanessa! Great idea! I like they way you turn everything that happens into an opportunity to learn. Your students are so lucky to have you!
    Heidi Butkus

  5. Teacher Laura Oreamuno. says:

    Inmediatly I see something “ugly” I place it in a basket inside my closet. At the end of the year I try to repair the pieces that deserve so,and discharge the rest.The main thing still is: items must be “nice”,so kids take care…no broken parts except outside for other reasons.(creative, independet play and construction)
    Laura Oreamuno
    San Jose, Costa Rica.
    Central America.

  6. What other books do you share about taking care of books???

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