Let’s face it: Kids LOVE to play dress-up! But, we believe that dress-up can—and should—be enjoyed year-round (not only at Halloween.) In fact, during the colder or dreary winter months, when many families are stuck indoors, dress-up costumes can give children the thrill of exploring new worlds right from their playrooms.
A word on dress-up and role-play for kids (From Melissa):
“Role-play is a critical form of pretend play, and a crucial aspect of early childhood development. It is also one of the best ways to help a child develop an understanding of the world! Dressing up can help kids:
- Get rid of fears and inhibitions
- “Act out” something they may not be comfortable expressing otherwise
- Develop social awareness and self-confidence!
Such free, unstructured creative play offers tremendous benefits developmentally: It builds strong imaginations and fertile, innovative minds!”
(For more insights from Melissa on the benefits of dress-up play, read her entire article, “Why Costumes are Good for Kids.”)
Here are some inspirational ideas to kick off your costume play!
1) “Grab Bag”
Take your dress-up bin and dump it upside-down! Then, blindfold each child (or yourself with your child) and take 5 minutes to pick, and put-on, a costume! Once time is up, do the grand reveal and wait for the giggles to commence! Go around and make up a back-story for your new, wacky character: Are you a Pirate with a penchant for butterfly necklaces, or perhaps a Chef who stirs his pot with a hairdryer?
2) “Put on a Show”!
If you have an entire afternoon to fill, and you can’t possibly send the kids outside, organize a theatrical event! (This is a wonderful play date activity, too. You’ll be the most popular parent on the block). Gather everyone (yourself included, if you want!) and write a script together based on the role play outfits and accessories you already own. The more variety, the better (and funnier!) the plot line will be. Then, plan and practice the whole event- from set-up, to lighting, to props and even snacks! Invite over some parents and friends, and let the show begin!
Your children will not only feel proud of what they’ve accomplished, they will have practiced their writing and storytelling skills – all while boosting their confidence!
Tip: If you’ve run out of people- add puppets to your show!
3) Play “I want to be…”
Costumes offer kids the opportunity to express certain desires or dreams they might not have fully realized yet. As Melissa states, “When children are given the opportunity to choose a character they wish to portray, they are given the ability to explore the areas they are most interested in.”
As your child to help set-up their ideal “dream job” – complete with costumes and accessories (you’ll be surprised at what those old boxes, paper towel rolls, and some construction paper can create, for example!) Does your little one dream of being a chef? Set-up a pretend kitchen, throw on a white smock and hat – and voila! Let the creative concoctions begin! Set up stuffed animals to be patrons of a new, fine dining restaurant, and ask your child to act out what they would love to do or say if they could be in that role. You may learn some new things about what your child loves and dreams about – and so might they!
For budding Veterinarians, check out this recent blog post: “Let’s Play Animal Hospital!”
What does YOUR child love most about playing dress up? We’d love to hear your play ideas, and see your wonderful photos! Join us on Facebook and share your experiences there!