Dressing Up and How It Can Spark Imaginative Play

4 min read

Last Modified 20 June 2024 First Added 20 June 2024

Author Katy

Dressing up when you are small is a fun way to try new things and has significant benefits that support a child’s overall cognitive and physical development. Take a look at how and why dressing-up is the perfect activity to help them develop creativity and confidence…

Dressing up could be simple accessory, a plastic tiara or a construction hat, or a full Hungry Caterpillar or Gruffalo outfit. Your little one might like wearing an apron in their play kitchen or a sheriff badge to apprehend an imaginary villain . Costumes and dressing-up props allow them to try out different personas and explore new emotions, we’ve shared some of the benefits of encouraging your little one to step in another pair of shoes:

Children in grown-up shoes

Language and Communication Skills:

Pretend play encourages children to stretch their language, social and memory skills.  Playing together with friends involves compromise, listening and sharing, which are all important to learn before they start school. Role-playing as teachers, doctors, vets or kings and queens gives lots of opportunity to improve communication, and dressing up as a favourite character whose words are familiar can encourage their confidence to grow.

Emotional Development:

Young children have to learn to understand their own and others emotions, so giving the opportunity to role-play scenarios that involve expressing emotions and interacting with others can be a way to model positive behaviour and show them how to manage and channel their own feelings. Your little one may love superheroes, firefighters or footballers and enjoy dressing up as their heroes.

Creativity and Imagination:

Mermaids, knights, faeries or astronauts, dressing-up offers little ones a chance to have exciting adventures in a safe environment. Inventing their own stories, creating their own props and scenes, having imaginary conversations with an invisible creature all help to grow children’s confidence in bringing their ideas to life.  Nurture their creativity by going along with their stories and allowing them to lead the way on your joint adventure.

Motor Skills and Physical Development:

As children develop their motor skills and gain more physical independence, role-playing and dressing up can support physical development by offering an outlet for energy and creativity, as well as new ways to move. – Try creating a silly walk to go with a character or add some props – a sword to swing at crocodiles, or a vet’s case to carry to the rescue site. Find out how encouraging movement and activity as part of play benefits them in our recent blogs on supporting Physical Development.

Group of children dressed as superheroes

Looking for ideas to incorporate dressing up into your child’s playtime? You don’t need a huge budget, lots of space or big toys to get their imaginations revved up – here are some simple ways to encourage imaginative play with dressing up and props.

Get Imaginative At Storytime

Sharing stories isn’t just about bedtime and bonding, reading aloud and encouraging children to immerse themselves in a fictional world can be a welcome escape from screens and give them a life long love of reading.  Get creative with your own outfit when reading a story, a fluffy rug can make an impromptu bear costume when draped over your shoulders,  or use real-world objects to bring stories to life. Acting out different parts by adding funny voices or using puppets can spark their imagination even more. For inspiration, read our ideas for Interactive Storytelling.

Start A Dressing Up Box

You don’t have to spend money to start a treasure trove of dressing-up fun. Old hats, bags, silly socks or plastic glasses, sparkly shoes and feather boas are enough to fire up their imaginations, and you can add things in as you find them. Ask relatives or check the sale sections in charity shops for unique additions.

DIY Costumes

If you can whizz up a simple tunic on a sewing machine you’ll have lots of options, but cutting a hole in an old pillow case works just as well. Decorating with patches, ribbons or paint can transform a plain outfit into a robot, pirate, ladybird and almost anything else they can imagine. There’s plenty of free printable masks online, or you could design your own for their favourite animal with some thin card, a hole punch and some elastic. Wearing a mask can give shyer children more confidence to express themselves, just make sure little ones aren’t scared!

Dressing up is a wonderful way to create fun childhood memories, support their overall development and encourage creative thinking. Browse all our dressing-up costumes, props and role play toys here. Our most popular costumes include Fairies, Police Officers and Vets, you can explore all our thoughtfully designed dressing up and role play toys below.

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About the Author


Expert in Miniverse

Katy Clouds is the newest addition to our writing team packing nearly 10 years experience in online copywriting and several awards.

Katy is a serious Miniverse collector and follows all the latest trends in miniatures – look out for lots of collectibles content from her coming soon!

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