How to make learning exciting with dress up games

by Mary Ann on November 13, 2010

girl dress up pink clothes

Ashley, age 6

There is a mother who has a number of children. The thing they like to do the most is play dress up games; they want to do it every day, even the boys. It was worrying her. Should she really let them play dress up games during structured learning time?

dress up games picture

Dressing up

I suggested that she tie the dressing up to whatever she wants to inspire them with. If they are talking about the kings and queens of history why, they can dress up while they do history lessons. If they are learning about Lewis and Clark then they might as well be the party crossing the Rocky Mountains. If they are learning about Madame Currie then they can be her as they learn. They can role play whatever it is they are learning. It would be fun and interesting and exciting, not to mention memorable.

kids play dress up pictures

Squares of material make costumes and tents

You don’t really need “play clothes” for this. A largish box of large fabric squares will do nicely and leave everything to the imagination.

dress up clothes ideas picture

I had another idea for her too. “If you have reading time during your structured learning time, that is the perfect time to let them dress up. Use your box of squares. If you are reading a fiction book stop in the chapter somewhere and let them act out that part. You could do this once or twice every day. It will lengthen your reading time or have you reading less each day but your children will love it.”

You know we should follow a child’s lead when we want to inspire them. Their “sparks” tell you just where their interest lies,and this helps us to encourage children to learn. When we are speaking of children ages 0 to about 12 we are talking about the age of exploration with all subjects. They just want to physically and mentally experiment with everything. They really do.

princess dress up pictures

Princess dress up

Well this mom found a way to incorporate their desire to engage their imaginations with what they were doing in their structured learning time. Here is her delightful experience.

“Thank you Mary Ann!

I tried this today.  We are reading Wizard of Oz.  Of course they all wanted to be Dorothy, but eventually they settled on at least one scarecrow.  One of the Dorothy’s wanted to have a Greek style costume, so she made up a side story to go with that.   Thanks for a great idea – it will be fun to use for future reading, too!”


Play and  learn; that is how children do it. Don’t be afraid to mix their play with your inspiration. The results can be magical.

ruby slipper wizard of oz picture

Ruby slippers, The Wizard of Oz

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