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Fancy Dress Fun

Ah, the good old dressing up box.

Every home with pre-schoolers (and older children) should have a dressing up box somewhere.

There are many educational bonuses that come from having a fancy dress box.

Firstly, the children playing with the items in there get to practise some of their selfcare skills (something we’re right into with Montessori education) as they put the items on: doing up buttons, getting clothes round the right way and all the rest of it.

Secondly, playing with dress-up clothes encourages fantasy play, which is excellent for stimulating creative thinking and the imagination.

Experts say that fantasy play is most beneficial if children write their own “scripts� for the stories they act out in their play rather than following a script dictated by a book, movie or a TV show.

Children will re-enact what they’ve heard or seen, of course. They’ve been doing this long before TV was invented, so it would be wrong to blame this medium for scripted fantasy play.

But your children are more likely to go for unscripted play (i.e. writing their own scripts) if the dress up items are more generic rather than associated with a certain character.

This doesn’t mean that you should ban all Spiderman and Snow White costumes as a way of encouraging unscripted play.

They have their place, as long as they don’t dominate. And a child who has a mental diet of a range of things (books, good TV shows and movies) will take their characters into new situations.

But it would be wise to keep the licensed costumes to a minimum. It tends to be cheaper, too!

The American feminist writer and mother Peggy Orenstein wrote a very enlightening and sometimes funny book entitled “Cinderalla Ate My Daughter�

She highlights the way the emphasis on princesses, especially of the Disney sort, programmes little girls into a lifestyle of obsessing about looks and consumerism.

This book highlights the fact that when it comes to costumes and dressing-up options for girls in particular, the options seem to be rather limited to fairies, princesses and fairy princesses, with the odd mermaid (probably a princess as well).

It would probably be helpful for your child, whether male or female, to provide dress-up items that aren’t gender-limiting.

This isn’t to say that you should ban princess gear – everybody likes a bit of sparkly bling and a tiara or so now and again. But you should have other options available.

More interesting articles about children learning and Montessori Learning Activities at

Fancy Dress Fun  

Childen love playing dress-up. Dressing up helps children practise self-care skills related to dressing, encourages thinking about the commu...