One of my children’s favorite dress-up items was not a clothing item at all… it was an old semi-sheer curtain. It was used by boys and girls alike in a host of different ways.
Suitcase game: Put a pile of old clothes and props on the floor and put an empty cardboard box alongside them. One person picks up an article, for example, a red hat, and puts it in the box saying, “I’m going on vacation and I will take…my red hat.” The next person also puts something in the box, for example, a blue shirt, and says “I’m going on vacation, and I’ll take…my red hat and blue shirt.” Continue the game, increasing the list of things in the box until one person forgets something.
Your living center can be spiced up by adding music, classical Greg & Steve, Hap Palmer, Ella Jenkins, and Raffi (just to name a few). Also, add a full-length mirror. You will be amazed to see the transformation to singing and dancing in front of the mirror with or without dress up clothes. Dress up clothes can also include scarves, pieces of fabric of different textures and colors so the children can create their own clothing designs! Make sure the pieces of fabric are not too big, so the children can manipulate and create themselves, with little help. Also remember to include items for the boys, like shoes, hats, the colored fabric they would like, old briefcases, and dad’s shirts. If you change the items in your dramatic play area every few weeks, it will always be fun and exciting. If you have great favorites, be sure to leave those there for the whole year.
Make child-size cars, boats, buses, etc.
Take cardboard storage boxes (the height of the boxes should be from the floor to the children’s knees).
Cut out the bottoms and tops of the boxes and remove the flaps if any so that the box is hollow.
Cut handles in the longer sides for the children to hold the box with their hands.
Paint the boxes to resemble a car, fire truck, boat, bus, etc.
The children can stand in the box and hold it up while moving in the dress up area and throughout the room!!
This is fun when outdoors, but would make a good rainy-day activity as well. All you need is a whistle or buzzer. Tell the children to act as a bear and give them 10 to “act” as the bear. Then, blow the whistle or buzzer and create another “character” right after that, such as a clown, or even yourself. Come up with a list of “characters” and incorporate them into your lesson. For example, if you are currently studying about Africa when doing the activity specify all African characters or animals. Be creative and watch the responses of the children. They are usually quite inventive!
The parent in our classroom made a coconut tree out of the heavy cardboard tube from the center of a roll of newsprint (about 4 1/2 ft tall) and rolled up paper put into the top of it to make it almost reach the ceiling. She made construction paper leaves and paper mache coconuts. It stood in the middle of our room for the month of January. We read Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom every day. The book and tape were in the listening center and the computer program was available at the computer center. We had laminated paper letters stuck to the tree and another set in a box under the tree and had the kids match upper and lower case. I also have a set of stuffed pillow letters with pictures for each letter. The class never got tired of playing Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom and they were reluctant to see the tree go at the end of the unit.
We often put dolls out with baskets, slings, backpacks & posters of parents carrying babies in different ways from different countries. They love the slings best.
Make a cow head and tail out of poster board. Place the head on a small chair and the tail on another small chair put a broomstick across the chair fill a rubber glove with half water and milk tie it and then tie it to the broomstick(make sure you poke holes at the fingertips) show the child how to milk a cow.
As a parent of 2 preschoolers, I have found yard sales to be a great source of materials for dress up. First communion dresses and flower girl dresses are inexpensive and are short enough that I don’t have to worry about tripping. Consignment shops are another source although they tend to be a bit more expensive.