If you could be anything or anyone today, what would it be?
Come on, close your eyes and think about it.
Would you be a beautiful fish swimming around the coral in the Great Barrier Reef?
A mighty eagle, soaring above the land, a tiny fairy (I did say ANYTHING), sprinkling pixie dust and granting wishes?
A famous actor, an astronaut, a brain surgeon, a leaf – what would you choose?
When you close your eyes and think about it, you are using one of our most wonderful tools – imagination.
This is the key reason dress-up play is so important, but there are lots of other benefits too – read on.
Children can’t help but try things – all kinds of things and trying on different clothes to become someone, or something else is just part of the world exploration.
They are unhampered by the realities that hold back our thoughts. It doesn’t matter that dragons, unicorns and fairies are not real. It doesn’t matter that the tiny three-year-old cannot read, but is practising imaginary brain surgery on a teddy bear.
The best part of all this is that the costume doesn’t need to be elaborate, or accurate because all the fun is in the imagination.
While kids love having specific costumes – four-year-old Goddess loves her Elsa dress – it’s the random bits they adapt to their game that really gets the imagination flowing.
Three-year-old Goddess particularly loves a sarong I bought in Thailand. It has become her favourite superhero cape. The pink sarong with gold elephants is the most unlikely of capes for a superhero – but this doesn’t deter her or take away from the brilliance of her ‘rescues’ and flying (she can do ANYTHING when she’s wearing that cape/sarong).
When my own kids were small I had themed parties for their birthdays and costumes were always encouraged. This made me a winner with the kids, though I think some of the parents were less than impressed they had to come up with costumes each time. Despite this, many went to extraordinary lengths to make amazing costumes.
One of my favourites was an animal-themed party where one kid was cleverly dressed as a penguin and another, as a crocodile using green painted egg cartons for the scales – so clever. It was clear the parents were enjoying the chance to stretch their own imaginations with these costumes.
BENEFITS OF DRESS-UP PLAY
Other than encouraging imagination, there are several benefits to dress-up play which include;
- Confidence – what could make you feel better than being a superhero? For shy kids, donning a costume can mean the freedom to be loud, because they are someone else.
- Role-Playing – practising being other people, professions, even animals, helps you to understand a bit about them. This can manifest later in increased compassion and empathy.
- Socialising – when more than one is playing dress-ups, important socialising skills are practised, such as sharing, communication, cooperating and even planning: “You be the witch this time and I’ll be the superhero”.
- Curiosity and Vocabulary – Thinking outside their small worlds increases their curiosity and also their vocabulary.
SETTING UP AN IMAGINATION STATION
Having some dress-up options for kids does not have to involve spending a lot of money on the latest popular character clothes – while this is fun, it doesn’t go quite as far for imagination as allowing the kids to come up with their own versions of costumes –such as the pink and gold sarong.
Next time you’re considering throwing away an old hat, glasses, handbags or clothes, consider if they could be useful for imaginary play.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on some wigs which are a favourite with the Goddesses.
Old costume jewellery is also always a winner but also consider material scraps and even old socks which can become, in their imaginative tale, glamorous gloves and hilarious hats. Even the humble ice cream container can become the latest trend in headwear if that is all that is on hand.
We have an old piece of underlay from a floating floor installed years ago. It is gold in colour, and in brilliance as it has become our magic carpet.
We stand on that bit of underlay, hold hands, close our eyes, and decide where we are going to go. Then we walk around in a circle on the mat, eyes still closed, and imagine our new surroundings. When we open our eyes, we are ‘there’ – swimming in the ocean with the fish, flying among the clouds – wherever we want to be. We don’t even need costumes for this one – although they are always a fun addition.
With all the imagination flowing so beautifully, why not pair it with some creativity as well?
You can find an easy method for hat-making in my post Fun and Easy Bunnies, Bonnets, Cards and More or here.
Have some fun with mask making with the simple instructions here.
Visit First Palette for a bunch of ideas for masks using paper plates.
If I could be anything today, I would be a dragon – a nice one like Puff.
What would you be?
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.
Teresa SalhiJune 30, 2016 at 10:36 am
This is so fun, delightful inspiring and life changing. Thank you Tamuria for sharing this and inspiring creativity and passion. Love….
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:39 pm
I’m glad you found it inspiring Teresa. I love reminding people to have fun.
Sabrina QuairoliJune 30, 2016 at 10:52 am
Fun post. If I could be anyone today I would be a rainbow colored bird that fly from tree to tree singing happy songs.
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm
That’s a beautiful picture, Sabrina. It has all the important things, rainbows, flying and singing. 🙂
Kristen WilsonJune 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm
So cute and true.. infants and children have to responsibility, no cares in the world because they don’t know better and that’s the fun with growing up. But the first thought when posed with the question.. heck, I really don’t know… then my second thought was… a man, or a dog… kind of the same reason like kids… because they are taken care of and have little responsibilities. urgh. lol
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm
Haha, love it Kristen. I wouldn’t mind being my dog – she’s pretty spoiled.
Susan Mary MaloneJuly 1, 2016 at 5:04 am
Today I would be what I always dream to be–a full-time writer. That’s all. And everything.
LOVE these Goddesses and their get-ups!
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:42 pm
Isn’t it wonderful to be living your fantasy, Susan? Those Goddesses have no idea how much joy they spread. 🙂
Rachel LavernJuly 1, 2016 at 5:22 am
I believe that the formal educational system is flawed. It hammers information INTO our head instead of drawing the unique talents, skills and interests OUT of each person. Perhaps education should be less about what goes in and much more about becoming aware of what you have inside, such as your intellectual faculties—the will, perception, reason, memory, intuition and IMAGINATION. When you develop the faculties of your mind, you tap into the magic in your mind.
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm
I so agree Rachel. Imagine a world where we are taught from the start to tap into our own magic.
joan potterJuly 1, 2016 at 6:07 am
Tamuria – Okay, I love the idea of the gold carpet underlay transforming into a magic carpet! A while back, I saw that a group of women were making capes and super-hero garments for a children’s hospital cancer ward. It was amazing to see the power that the items conveyed to the young folks!
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:45 pm
We have so much fun on our magic carpet Joan. Bless those wonderful women for their amazing work on the capes and super hero clothes.
rozbeadsJuly 1, 2016 at 6:52 am
How can I be thought of as a creative person and I have limited imagination. I don’t know who I want to be other than who I am or maybe a dog. I decided recently to bring imagination out when with my 4 year old granddaughter. She is not receptive. The one thing she does like that I do well is make up stories. She wont help out with , what comes next, or should they go this way or that, but I wont give up. She is artistic. It is there. JUst as mine is. Together we will imagine.
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:50 pm
You are amazingly creative Roz, proved by your beautiful jewellery, which shows great imagination. I don’t think you can be creative without imagination.. Each of my Goddesses expresses their imagination differently. One is really good at making up stories, another is better at acting them out or creating things to use as props.
Beverley GoldenJuly 1, 2016 at 8:03 am
Love all the ideas you share in this post, Tami, and your Goddesses are so fortunate to have you encouraging them to stretch their imaginations in such wonderful and active ways! I read a Seth Godin post recently where he brought attention to a women who is literally making capes for unsung heroes. You might love the premise of her organization. http://www.loveyou2.org/tag/cape/ And the name of it Loveyou2. I don’t recall dressing up when I was little, I was more into colouring and reading and learning new things, yet my imagination is one of my best friends. 🙂 My daughter used to love to dress up for Halloween and we have some pictures of very creative outfits we made throughout the years she went out. Everything from Bruce Springsteen to the Easter Bunny and everything in-between. Thanks for sharing all your creative play ideas and for your commitment to stimulating creativity and imagination in children and adults alike.
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:54 pm
You are right Beverley, I love the premise of Loveyou2 – so many heroes in this world.I can see though your wonderful writing that your imagination is your friend.I used to love dressing up for Halloween. I also loved to put on shows for my Mum so would often dress up for those.
KimberlyJuly 1, 2016 at 10:01 pm
Love this, Tamuria! You sound like just the most fun grand ever! Myso loved to dress up… Halloween was one of his favorite times of year, and we would always end up getting 2 costumes and make one, so he’d have 3 options and would wear them plenty in the month leading up to and after. He is in the costume closet less now, at 11, but sometimes, still!
tamuriaJuly 2, 2016 at 5:58 pm
Kimberly, it’s so great you had three costumes on offer, including one you made.He’ll look back on those days with great joy.
KristaJuly 1, 2016 at 10:59 pm
This is a great post! My youngest son particular liked to dress up in costumes. I think adults still want to do it – thus the popularity of Halloween parties!
I think the pink elephant cape screams – princess superhero – the best person to have on your side when you are having a fashion emergency! 😉 So adorable.
tamuriaJuly 4, 2016 at 3:21 pm
Hahaha – love it, princess fashion superhero. I still enjoy dress ups. I think I’m going to have to plan a grown-up dress up party when the weather gets warmer.
Lisa SwansonJuly 2, 2016 at 3:56 am
both my daughters had, and still do at 24 & 26, great imaginations. I was always amazed at the elaborate stories that would evolve. And who better to play those games with them, than Nana!
tamuriaJuly 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm
So good you can appreciate your daughters’ imagination, Lisa. All too often this wonderful skill is underrated.
Joan M HarringtonJuly 2, 2016 at 4:26 am
Hey Tami 🙂
Imagination is fun, isn’t it? We can be whomever we want to be 🙂 Love the great dress up pics! Looks like fun 🙂 I remember those days with my own daughter (now 25) they grow up so fast and I remember her vivid imagination so well 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
tamuriaJuly 4, 2016 at 3:32 pm
Yes, Joan, imagination is so much fun and good for you as well. For kids, it’s about growing and learning and play, but for adults, it can be aq powerful tool to escape life’s stresses.
Karen GroszJuly 4, 2016 at 1:34 am
I think this is why I love to read books, it is a world of imagination. My boys are too old for dress up at 17 and 20. But I plan to have a dress up chest for my grandkids. Can’t wait to have fun like that.
tamuriaJuly 4, 2016 at 3:35 pm
Karen books are the most wonderful source of imagination. I love that you ae already planning a dress-up chest for your grandkids.
Joyce HansenJuly 5, 2016 at 9:02 am
What a wonderful treasure trove of imagination. Oh, to be a kid and dress up again and be anything we want. I think it’s why I like to escape into the Harry Potter books.
tamuriaJuly 6, 2016 at 6:31 pm
Harry Potter books are a favourite with me too Joyce – talk about imagination!I’m happy to be able to relive the childhood fun of dress ups with the Goddesses at my side.
Jackie HarderJuly 6, 2016 at 8:14 am
Love this! Sharing.
tamuriaJuly 6, 2016 at 6:34 pm
Glad you enjoyed it, Jackie. 🙂