5 Learning Experiences Children Get from Playing Dress-up

Have you heard the expression “Play is a child’s work”? 

Child learn by exploring and trying out new things during role play when they dress-up. Costumes can be simple; elaborate or authentic. Kids dressing up in a costume of some kind is not just for Halloween or a school play. Dress-up/ dramatic play items don’t need to cost much.

This post will share 5 of some of the many benefits kids get from having dress-up clothes to play with along with some links to dramatic play collections including this author’s on-line store, plus more resources to find dress-up clothes and a list of dramatic play props..

Malika’s grand daughter playing dress up as a “Home Maker”. Playing #DressingUp is an imporatnt part of childhood

The above image was from a fews back. The 5 year old, now 12, remembers this day when she dressed-up like Suzy Homemakers. She learned to make cookies that day. Did she really need to wear an apron? No, not really, but it added more fun to the learnng experience.

Benefits to Dramatic Play Dress-up Clothes and Props

  1. Making good choices.like ” What will I wear?”
  2. Muscle Exercise: Putting on and taking off an item of clothing is good exercise. Kids often are more ready and willing to dress-up like a fire fighter than they are to get dressed in thr morning or put pj’s on. Go figure!
  3. Coordination: wearing something fun during play encourages to learn new coordination skills like zipping; buttoning, snapping or tying. Ever hear a kids whine, “But, mo-o-o-o-m-e-e-e I’m too tired to tie my shoes!” ? But give ’em a pair of too big boots with laces and they are so willing to tie those up so they clomp around. Go figure, once again. Little tommy won’t put on his mittens wehn it’s cold out side claiming it is “too hard”.. Give him work gloves and kitchen mit as shown in the picture a above. His tune will change.
  4. Role playing builds confidence and helps remove fears. When kids go to the hosital for pediatric proceedure staff will often gives the kids a mask to wear; let them listen to their heart beats with a stethoscope and put band-aids on a doll. all that scary stuff is not so scarey when you can play with it. I know as an RN working with children I did just that. And as an early child hood educator I offered plently of Community Helper experiences. Dressing up as a community Helper like police officer; fire fighter; vet; doctor or nurse really helped when it came time for the kids to deal with real life issues they may face in their young lives. Dress-up is a way to walk in someone else’s shoes- as role reversal.
  5. Imitating the grown-up they know help increase communication skills cognitively and increase their vocabulary as well. Pretending to be an animal encouraging new learning new things.

Don’ t take my word for it. Click the links below to see what other early childhood educators have to say about kids and dramatic play.

What Will Children Learn Through Dress-Up Play?

Where are the best places to find Dress-up or Dramatic Play Cothes for Kids?

I think it all depends on what you are looking for and your budget.

Don’t over look your local thrift shops like for props and dress-up clothes

  • ARC and GoodWill and your local consignment store: you never know what you will find..

Dramatic Play Make -up Resources:

For animal face make-up ideas to go with tails and ears: Check out No Non-cents Nanna’s Dramatic Play board on Pinterest.

Kids do not need the latest cartoon character or superhero registered costume to play in. Sure, every now and then indulge them with a registered character piece or 2.

Don’t under estimate the power of imagination of a child.

This image was of Heart Felt Play Store former display in Old City.


  1. kitchen utensils: wooden spoons; small pots and pans; hot pads; strainers; funnels; plastic plates
  2. gloves; boots; scarves; hats; shoes; jewelry; glasses; purse , bags
  3. plastic flowers/ plants; garden tools; empty pots
  4. sheets and towels for tent making or capes
  5. Stuffed animals that can be machine washed.
  6. Yarn, rick rack, fabric pieces; glitter, wall paper; other odd craft items that can be used to decorate a cereal box crown.
  7. Don’t forget to save empty boxes and plastic containers from your own kitchen to use as props.

Last month my 6 year old grand daughter spied an empty soap bottle with a pump. She saw the pump mechanism as an immunization syringe. She carefully gave me lots of “shots”.

Needless to say this old Nanna is now fully “immunized” an Sophie-Do-It helped. (Shopie-do-It is No Non-cents Nanna real life model.)

Even No Non-cents Nanna plays dresses-up

I wore my poodle skirt to an event last week and won 2nd place wearing this poodle skirt.

While everyone else wore Yoga pants No Non-cents Nanna dances to the her own beat in a poodle skirt and can-can!

No Non-cents Nanna opinion on Halloween costumes.

I know many families worry about the creepiness of Halloween going against religious beliefs.

Personally, I really don’t care for the gory scenes or the blood and guts costumes. I never have and I never will.. But I have to say, that Halloween or Day of Dead celebrations can be the perfect opportunity to sit and talk with your children about those things that are very uncomfortable to talk about. Or these Halloween antics may be something against your religious convictions and that is OK.

But, you really do need to talk, rather then leave the kids guessing.

Parents can approach the gory scenes with empathy rather than judgement or other’s choices we may not approve of.. Let the kids dress-up every day as part of play in out-fits you feel are most appropriate for their ages and your family beliefs. Kids won’t secretly feel so left out or different from peers when you don’t do the Trick or Treat thing.

Check out an old No Non-cents Nanna blog post below.

Did You Know that Skeletons are Functional Not Creepy?

Fairy Wings and other Whimsical Things for Girls


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