What child doesn’t enjoy pretending to be someone or something else? Dress-up play is role-play at its most authentic, and role-play for children should be just that: PLAY! As a parent, you can help facilitate this play by providing a wide variety of costumes and accessories to help your child develop different “characters.”
Once in character, kids can use their imagination, test out ideas, act out emotions, and problem-solve. They can engage in cooperative play with peers and adults or, if playing alone, can develop independent thinking and verbal expression.
Here are some of the top items every dress-up bin should contain:
- Scarves – A scarf is the mainstay of dress-up play! Create hats, ties, skirts, or capes with colorful squares. Or, use as a backdrop, curtain, or blanket. Create an ocean by laying down a blue scarf, or a lawn with a green scarf.
- Plastic beads – Like the kind they throw out at parades? Yes! These can become belts, necklaces, jewels, or crowns.
- Glasses – Next time you scratch a pair of glasses – don’t throw them out! Pop out the lenses and add the frame to the dress up bin.
- Hats – Even ball caps with logos can define characters, or be used as a base for children to build their own headpieces (with those scarves and beads!). Themed hats like cowboy, firefighter, newsboy, and otherwise also add to the fun!
- Neckties – Like scarves, ties are perfect for decoration and accessorizing!
- Tutus – Great for impromptu ballet dances or for putting under a skirt for an old-fashioned type of look.
- Old cell phones / beepers – Used as is, or perhaps for a sci-fi story!
- Clipboards – Great for nurses, doctors, teachers, or waiters…
- Aprons – Helps kids become a chef, waitress, or carpenter…
- Binder clips and clothespins – Build costumes and attach accessories, or help make larger items fit.
Creative Play Ideas
Most kids know exactly what do to with a pile of dress-up costumes and accessories. Still, parents can help facilitate dress up play for larger groups or parties with these games:
Location, Location, Location! Are they on safari? At a hospital? In a restaurant? Changing the scene gives kids a chance to explore new characters that naturally appear in those locations.
Musical Play – Put on some music (classical or no words is often best), and let children dress up according to how it inspires them. Will they become a fairy? Pirate? Hobbit?
Picture Book Scenes – Having kids act out scenes from a favorite picture book (or longer piece) gives a familiar “world” for children to play in. They’ll enjoy pretending to be their favorite characters!
Dress-up play is an easy, yet important, type of pretend play for children of all ages. Even the smallest prop can send children off for hours of exciting adventures!
What are your favorite dress-up play ideas or accessories? Share with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Melissa & Doug’s Facebook page!
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Julie Kieras is mom to two active an inquisitive boys and wife to a wonderful husband. She can usually be found playing with her toddler and infant, organizing her craft closet, reading a good book, taking a walk, or perhaps baking her semi-famous apple pies. In between, she writes a blog about family life at A Year With Mom and Dad.