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Play Dress-Up Games With These 9 Everyday Items

Shanell Mouland
June 6, 2017

Don't throw out those old boots, hats and costumes. Use them to put together an exciting of chest of dress-up clothes, and let your kids' imaginations run wild.

Even when kids have all the toys you think they need, there are still days when boredom strikes. With the right accessories, you can turn those boring afternoons into hours of inventive fun with dress-up games. Sonia Hanson, a guidance counselor of 14 years at Bayview School, says pretend play is crucial for child development. "I use the roles children take on during playtime as a jumping-off point. For example, if a child is pretending to be a teacher, I might ask what qualities make up a good teacher, and we work from there." Kids can learn about roles and relationships through play like this.

Holly Homer, creator of the Kids Activities Blog, stresses the importance of letting kids get a vote in how they want to dress up. Don't set aside items that you find interesting -- let them choose their own playful props. "Each of my three boys has a small case that they are in charge of filling with things that they love," she says. If you're a parent or nanny, get your kids' creative juices flowing and help them hunt for these nine common household items to fuel their dress-up games.

  1. Formal Wear
    Are you ever going to wear that prom dress or worn-out tux again? What about those old shoes in the back of your closet? Grab a few outdated dressy items, and let your kids play dress-up. Use clothespins or large binder clips to quickly tailor large items, then have your kids pretend that they're attending a fancy gala, being crowned as a queen or delivering an acceptance speech at an award show.
  2. Flashy Hats
    Does Dad's stash of hats take up half of your closet? Dust off those fedoras and put them to good use by having your little ones play as detectives. Hide some old jewelry around the house, and ask your kids to find the "stolen" items. They'll love pretending to solve a mystery dressed in some of Dad's old accessories. Just make sure you remember where you hid those earrings!
  3. Sports Jerseys
    An old jersey can transform your kid into a soccer superstar. Use a hairbrush for a makeshift microphone, and have someone else play the sports reporter who interviews her after scoring the winning goal.
  4. Halloween Costumes
    Don't let expensive costumes gather dust after only one use. With a little imagination, old Halloween costumes can be the attire for an elaborate play. Your kids are the stars of the show, while you provide the audience's applause.
  5. Aprons and Oven Mitts
    If you want to get your little ones excited about their food, let them pretend to whip up some gourmet dishes while wearing your old aprons and oven mitts. Put a little water in a mixing bowl, and let them play with a whisk. They'll be begging to help you cook before you know it.
  6. Rubber Boots and Life Jackets
    Get ready to set sail on the high seas in search of pirate treasure -- but not without life vests and wet-weather gear. Your kids might not realize it, but instances like these can be great learning opportunities. Hanson says that kids are naturally interested in make-believe, so a game like this is a good way to reinforce water-safety rules while you have their attention.
  7. Tools and a Tool Belt
    Grab the tool belt from the garage and a few kid-friendly tools every carpenter needs (think rulers, levels and pencils, not hammers and screwdrivers). Add wooden blocks or Legos, and watch your kid's dream home take shape.
  8. Towels and Gloves
    Every child wants to be a superhero, so indulge that desire using old tea towels or small bath towels for capes. Add some rubber gloves and a cardboard mask to complete the look. Don't forget to ask your child to come up with a fantastic superpower for herself.
  9. Art Supplies
    When all else fails, let your children create their own costumes. Masks and crowns made with paper and glue can be the finishing touches to their outfits and will get their dress-up games going in a hurry.

Want more ways to entertain your children? Check out this list of 101 things to do when kids are bored.

Shanell Mouland is a writer based in the Maritimes of Canada. She has been published on The Huffington Post, People.com, BuzzFeed, Oprah Magazine and dozens of other publications. She blogs at goteamkate.com and is writing a book detailing her family's trek through the autism odyssey with her daughters Grace and Kate.

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