A few weeks ago I came across a wonderful article explaining why costumed imagination play is good for children. Why Costumes Are Good for Kids by Melissa Bernstein, co-founder and co-CEO of one of my favorite toy brands Melissa & Doug, helped me realize dress-up is actually an IMPORTANT aspect of imagination play.
Bernstein states "Role-play is a critical form of pretend play, and a crucial aspect of early childhood development. It is also one of the best ways to help a child to develop an understanding of the world. When children are given the opportunity to choose a character they wish to portray, they are given the ability to explore the areas they are most interested in."
Inspired by Berstein's ideas, I decided to better organize B's costumes. He has a number of fun dress-up options including everything from "A"stronaut to "Z"ebra and many in between. These role-play get-ups are dived into two groups, one for upstairs (our main living space) and downstairs (the playroom). I concentrated on the larger of the two groups, his playroom collection. Before the reorganization B's costumes and accessories were stored in box style containers he could easily access. However, B was not able to see the costumes without getting into the containers. I felt the easiest way to encourage his role-play was by arranging the outfits in a way he would see them daily.
I had originally planned on getting a row of hooks to mount to the playroom wall, but during a quick trip to the local home improvement store I found the perfect hanging shelf. The shelf has a bar designed for clothes hangers and a small area we are using for hats. I was worried about B having to deal with hangers but he is doing well so far. And hopefully, before long he will be able to hang each of the costumes correctly himself (an added bonus!).
The shelf seems very sturdy and is just the right size for our needs. It was even totally easy to install, I just said "Daddy will you hang the shelf thing up now?" and it was magically done. .... Okay so it was super simple for daddy too! In fact, it took longer to vacuum up the dust and debris from the screws going into the wall than it did to actually hang it.
I have seen a huge jump in B's interest in role-play activities since the shelf brought his costumes out into view. So consider getting your kids role-play items out to eye level. Even if this is not a possibility in your space help encourage your little one(s) to dress up and have fun. Remember, it is more than just play, they are learning along the way!
Read Melissa Bernstein's article Why Costumes Are Good for Kids HERE.
You can find the wonderful hanging shelf HERE.
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