Pretend Play with Costumes and Characters for Children

Typically October is the month for dressing up and trick-or-treats. While this year’s pandemic may put a damper on the traditional celebrations, the value of dressing up and pretending to be a certain character from a book or movie can still be had.

Pretend play with costumes and characters for children can contribute to their growth and development and October is a particularly great time to encourage this kind of play. Even if the Halloween and Fall festivities are not taking place in person as they normally do, you can make the month festive at home!

Tips for how to encourage pretend play with costumes and characters for children this October:

  1. Character pumpkins. Whether you like to go all out and carve your jack-o-lanterns or if you prefer to paint or draw faces and don hats and other features, decorating pumpkins to make them come alive with their own personality can be load of fun and a way for your child to feel a part of the fall festivities. This article has loads of creative ideas.
  2. Costume options (on a budget). While there may be that one single character you child wants to be for Halloween, I recommend you have lots of dress up options available to your child all month long…and maybe even all year long! Dress-up play is an important option for children’s natural need to explore and express in their play. You can collect a variety of clothing options from your own closet that you no longer wear, add some hats and scarves and some face-painting options along with a variety of footwear choices and voila! If you’d like other ideas for creative costumes this article has a slideshow worth viewing for inspiration. 
  3. Character crafts. There are so many fun activities your child can do right at the kitchen table that allows your child to create and play with characters using craft supplies. Create some puppets out of lunch sacks, yarn, googly eyes. You can purchase inexpensive wooden spoons at your local discount store and add yarn for hair and draw faces on the wide face of the spoon. Try making a sock puppet (have a look at this tutorial). Plan a family puppet show! Empty toilet paper rolls can be used to create creatures and characters (have a look at these ideas). 
  4. Create a pretend world. Clear a space on the living room rug and invite your child to gather whatever she wants to create a pretend world in that area using the rug as a boundary. Encourage creative imagination suggesting maybe there are dolls, figures, toys or other items she may want to include. You will likely be amazed to see what your child creates!
  5. Host a costume fun party on Zoom. Plan an online party for your child and his friends at the time they might normally be out trick-or-treating together. Create some online invitations with Picmonkey or Canva and send them out through email. Encourage guests to dress up in their favorite costume and bring their favorite character toy to share. Plan to play music and play games like Mother May I, Simon Says and Dance Freeze. 

Pretend and character play helps children to explore and discover their experiences in the world. Children use objects to represent something or determine they or others  are in particular roles that can be acted out. When we encourage and allow children to go beyond the bounds of reality children learn and develop so many important life skills. Pretend play, which allows children to try on different points of view, allows children to explore varying ideas and emotions. All of this is a vital part of children’s social and cognitive development.

If you would like to arrange for a parenting consultation or discuss play therapy for your child, please contact me and I’ll be happy to speak with you.

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