dress-up play

Practical Pretend Play for Kids – Magic Wish for Preschool & Kindergarten #8

Practical pretend play and resources for kids is magic wish #8. For this blog series, parents are sharing something they wish could be in early programs. Even if it’s imaginary, pretend play helps kids with the real world.

playing in the kitchen

When kids pretend, they are taking a slice of reality. They juggle this bit all around and stretch it in all directions. This kind of play is children’s way of figuring out how the real world works. If we look at the world from a child’s perspective, they see many different people from the outside. They can only guess what that feels like on the inside. So kids try-on the character of the boss, the bad guy, the rescuer, the leader, the worker, the store clerk, the superhero, the sports player, and others each time they try on a costume.

Many times, kids don’t even need the costumes or props. They can do all this with imagination. But having them is a kind of permission. Having some resources for practical pretend play tells kids they are allowed to try on different roles. While we think kids are testing our patience all the time, they are trying to figure out the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not. This knowledge comes from experience. Plus, when other people see kids in costumes or dress-up clothes, they know what to expect. Would we let kids growl at us and order us around? Not usually, but if a child is wearing a dragon hat or a pirate costume we would.

In addition, props give kids a chance to be hands-on and personal with real items that grownups use. For example, Nicolle suggests having some of the things from a restaurant. These could be order pads, cash registers, tablecloths and napkins, and serving trays. Or, perhaps a gift shop, with an assortment of things to buy. Kids would also love to play with real tools and real musical instruments. This is the practical aspect of practical pretend play.

practical pretend play

Pretend or imaginary play is a vital part of children’s development. Can it be your child’s play-of-the-day?

 

Dragon Dress-up Pretend Play: Imagination Helps with Reality

Imaginative play can help kids understand and cope with reality, so open up the tickle trunk—it’s time for some dragon dress-up pretend play. This play roars.

dress-up play

A tickle trunk is just another name for the box, basket, old suitcase, or drawer that holds the collection of dress-up clothes and accessories. Halloween isn’t the only time kids like to play dress-up and some kind of container keeps the costumes and props from the bottom of the closet floor. Some possible items range from fairy wings and royal crowns to swords and shields. Both boys and girls play with a variety of stuff. Capes for super heroes and magic wands are pretty popular too.

dinosaur headband craft dragon

Dragons need wings and scary teeth. Although these can be imagined, they are quite easy to create. Depending on the color wanted, you can make a headband for your child out of paper. Using white paper, cut out 2 eyes and some big, pointy teeth. The eyes get glued onto the top edge of the headband and the teeth go along the bottom.

dragon dress-up pretend playTo make the wings, we found a large t-shirt at the thrift store. A quick cut up the front to the neck band turned the front into dragon wings. Little Sister slipped this on over her head and arms. It wasn’t pretty but it was simple, fast, and very inexpensive. Since dragons are imaginary, they can be any color. This one is purple.

dragon dress-up pretend play

Getting a still photo was impossible because dragons fly, don’t you know. (Note: You may need to be prepared for roars during dragon dress-up pretend play as well as flying around. How could I have overlooked this?)

How does imaginative play help with reality? When kids pretend, they are taking a slice of reality. They juggle this bit all around and stretch it in all directions. Dragons are fantasy, but having power and being ‘the boss’ isn’t. Kids are often scared and know what that’s like. Sometimes, it feels good to be the one scaring every one else, even if it is only pretend. Knights are another way to cope with fears by being brave and fearless. This kind of play is children’s way of figuring out how the real world works. Kids aren’t the only ones who like to imagine they can slay dragons. Do you ever wish you could too?

Halloween Pretend Play: Kids Plus Costumes = Cosplay aka Dress-Up

Kids have been enjoying dress up and costume play (cosplay) for generations but Halloween pretend play is certainly special. Everyone else plays too!

Children Trick-or-treating

While cosplay generally means putting on the costume as well as the words and actions of a specific character, kids add their own interpretations. A costume, or any dress-up play, invites explorations. Kids are exploring different ways of behaving and interacting.

If we look at the word from a child’s perspective, they see many different people from the outside. They can only guess what that feels like on the inside. So kids try-on the character of the boss, the bad guy, the rescuer, the leader, the worker, the store clerk, the superhero, the sports player, and others each time they try on a costume. Many times, they don’t even need the costumes. They can do all this with imagination.

Although pretend and imaginative play doesn’t need props, dressing up is a sort of permission. Kids know they are people, not cats or dogs, but ears and a tail mean they can try and eat off a dish on the floor. Normally, kids know if they ask adults if they can do this we’d say no, but they explain they are pretending to be a kitty or puppy and what happens? There’s a good chance we say yes. Would we let kids growl at us and order us around? Not usually, but if they are a lion or a pirate, we play along. No doubt about it, imaginative play is pretty powerful.

Pretend play starts about the age of two and becomes increasingly more complex. It’s a vital part of children’s development, creating new brain connections and understandings. On a mental level, problem-solving, creativity, organizing, comparing, and other thinking skills are involved. There’s an emotional aspect, too. Have you heard the expression about not judging others until we have walked a mile in their shoes? When kids dress-up they are trying to do just that. This is part of empathy, of feeling how others might feel. Physically, brains and bodies are so linked that imagining an action creates a response in the body.

Halloween pretend costume play

Halloween pretend play will happen long before and long after Halloween. And not just for kids. Will you dress up too?

Kids Play with Anything #18: Play with Old Clothes/Dress-up Play

While there are wonderful costumes and dress-up clothes available to buy, kids will also play with old clothes. Dress-up play is a timeless favorite. Figuring out ourselves and other people is a challenge, not just for kids but for grownups too. When kids put on clothes or costumes they don’t usually wear, they are also … Continue reading Kids Play with Anything #18: Play with Old Clothes/Dress-up Play

October Alphabet: C is for Children and Costumes

One of the most exciting parts of Halloween is dressing up. Continuing with the next letter of the alphabet, C is for children and costumes. Did you see the video circulating recently on Facebook of a non-profit organization that makes costumes for kids in wheelchairs? When one of the children was asked about the best … Continue reading October Alphabet: C is for Children and Costumes

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #10

The Emperor’s New Clothes Play-of-the-Day Books are important to share with children for more than just reading. Stories put clothes on bare words, unlike the emperor in the Emperor’s New Clothes. In this story, the emperor wanted to impress everyone by wearing magnificent and expensive clothing. Two clever tailors brought him some fabulous and pricey … Continue reading March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #10

Halloween Costumes Dress Up Children’s Fun and Learning

Kids don’t need a magic wand to transform themselves into superheros, princes and princesses, fairies, knights, animals, pirates, warriors, robots, scary creatures, and movie characters. They only need a costume and Halloween is the biggest costume party of the year. Kids do not only dress up at Halloween; often, they do it all year long. … Continue reading Halloween Costumes Dress Up Children’s Fun and Learning