Kids & Parenting

Fun dress up games for children

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Costumes and other props help little girls and boys use their imagination to reflect their perceptions of the world and explore their dreams
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Enhance your child's creativity while having a great time!

Just about everyone loves to dress up, at least once in a while. For children, playing fun dress up games provides ways to check out their perceptions of the world and try out different roles within it. Fun dress up games for children encourage and enhance emotional and imaginative growth.


Find inspiration in your closet


Dress up games don't require costumes. As a matter of fact, sometimes costumes limit imaginative creativity. It's a Spiderman costume, a very good Spiderman costume, but what can you be in it besides Spiderman? On the other hand, one of Dad's old shirts can become many things: a doctor's white coat, a dress, an invisibility cape—the sky's the limit!


To encourage fun dress up games for your children, take a critical look at your cast-offs before you donate them to charity. For instance, play a game about families with the following props:


- a man's shirt, tie, vest, hat and/or shoes for a Dad

- a hat, jewelry, sweater and high heels or fuzzy slippers for a Mom

- the play-family children and pets will love belts, blouses and lots of scarves

- everybody will benefit from a coat of lipstick—the play-dog and all (you may wish to retain custody of the cosmetics). In a good game, boys, Dads and dogs look just as good as girls, Moms and cats in a little face-paint.


And take heart—you've finally found a happy home for that splurge of a sequined sweater that never quite worked on you!


Both kids and parents can learn from play


Other games, you will notice quickly, mirror both your children's particular interests and their perceptions of the world around them. One teacher of young children says she learns more about her childrens' families by watching them use the toy telephones than any other way.


Watching your children will teach you a lot about your own phone manners, for better or worse! You will also see other actions of your family reflected in their play—the way Mom rocks the baby or the way Dad measures before building a new shelf. Children are acute observers and reflect their observations in imaginative play.




Props encourage children to explore


Some other fun dress-up games for children benefit from child-sized props like building, giving a show or going to the doctor. To encourage games, you may wish to consider buying a child-sized doctor's bag or a bag of plastic tools. Role-playing hats such as a hard hat, police officer's cap, firefighter's hat or space helmet sometimes encourage little boys to try out new roles.


Baby-doll nightgowns make perfect princess or ice-skater costumes, usually, but not always, for girls. A child particularly interested in dinosaurs, butterflies or wild animals would probably love a safari hat and a magnifying glass. Purchased props are not essential however. Long skinny blocks make pretty amazing rock guitars, and empty paper-towel rollers transform in an instant from microphones to telescopes when rockers become pirates.


Keep the good stuff on hand


If you begin to worry that what your children are doing mostly is collecting junk, it's worth editing the pile after they go to sleep or providing a waste basket or other bin to store limited amounts. Remember, though, that transforming a piece of trash into a valid prop is a genuine task of creative imagining that you don't want to stifle entirely. Through dress up games, children explore the world around them and learn many things by imitating the people and situations they observe in real life.


Hilarious dress up race for the older kids


Even older children enjoy dressing up enough to turn it into a fun party game. Divide children into two teams and give each team a basket of dress up gear. This is a relay-race game. One at a time, a member from each team dresses in all the items in their team's basket, run to a fixed point, run back and get undressed so the next runner can dress up and go.


Clearly, some clothes are better for this game than others—hats with big, floppy brims, very high heels, big flip-flops, swim fins, long coats and longer scarves are particularly good racing dress up choices. Add sunglasses, loopy beads and an umbrella for a totally ridiculous outfit. There's one rule for you to make clear, over the shouting and laughing. Team members are allowed to help others dress or not—either choice makes a great, fun game. Usually the hilarity reaches such a level that it's quite hard to figure out which team won, so you may want to plan prizes for everyone! Have fun!

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