10 Must-Haves for the Dress-Up Barrel! (Plus 3 Creative Play Ideas)

January 22, 2013 at 9:00 am 11 comments

Written for Melissa & Doug by special Guest Blogger Julie Kieras from A Year with Mom & Dad.

10 Must-haves for the Dress Up Barrel

What child doesn’t enjoy pretending to be someone or something else? Dress-up play is role-play at its most authentic, and role-play for children should be just that: PLAY! As a parent, you can help facilitate this play by providing a wide variety of costumes and accessories to help your child develop different “characters.”

Once in character, kids can use their imagination, test out ideas, act out emotions, and problem-solve. They can engage in cooperative play with peers and adults or, if playing alone, can develop independent thinking and verbal expression.

Here are some of the top items every dress-up bin should contain:

  1. Scarves – A scarf is the mainstay of dress-up play! Create hats, ties, skirts, or capes with colorful squares. Or, use as a backdrop, curtain, or blanket. Create an ocean by laying down a blue scarf, or a lawn with a green scarf.
  2. Plastic beads – Like the kind they throw out at parades? Yes! These can become belts, necklaces, jewels, or crowns.
  3. Glasses – Next time you scratch a pair of glasses – don’t throw them out! Pop out the lenses and add the frame to the dress up bin.
  4. Hats – Even ball caps with logos can define characters, or be used as a base for children to build their own headpieces (with those scarves and beads!). Themed hats like cowboy, firefighter, newsboy, and otherwise also add to the fun!
  5. Neckties – Like scarves, ties are perfect for decoration and accessorizing!
  6. Tutus – Great for impromptu ballet dances or for putting under a skirt for an old-fashioned type of look.
  7. Old cell phones / beepers – Used as is, or perhaps for a sci-fi story!
  8. Clipboards – Great for nurses, doctors, teachers, or waiters…
  9. Aprons – Helps kids become a chef, waitress, or carpenter…
  10. Binder clips and clothespins – Build costumes and attach accessories, or help make larger items fit.


Creative Play Ideas

Most kids know exactly what do to with a pile of dress-up costumes and accessories. Still, parents can help facilitate dress up play for larger groups or parties with these games:

Location, Location, Location!  Are they on safari? At a hospital? In a restaurant? Changing the scene gives kids a chance to explore new characters that naturally appear in those locations.

Musical Play – Put on some music (classical or no words is often best), and let children dress up according to how it inspires them. Will they become a fairy? Pirate? Hobbit?

Picture Book Scenes – Having kids act out scenes from a favorite picture book (or longer piece) gives a familiar “world” for children to play in. They’ll enjoy pretending to be their favorite characters!

Dress-up play is an easy, yet important, type of pretend play for children of all ages. Even the smallest prop can send children off for hours of exciting adventures!

Melissa & Doug Dress-Up Costumes

What are your favorite dress-up play ideas or accessories? Share with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Melissa & Doug’s Facebook page!

* * *

About Julie:

Julie Kieras is mom to two active an inquisitive boys and wife to a wonderful husband. She can usually be found playing with her toddler and infant, organizing her craft closet, reading a good book, taking a walk, or perhaps baking her semi-famous apple pies. In between, she writes a blog about family life at A Year With Mom and Dad.

Entry filed under: articles for parents & grandparents, family activities, Play Ideas, pretend play, Pretend Play, Role Play & Dress-Up. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Val’s Crafty Corner: Collaborative Coloring Activity 4 NEW Toys for Travel (Plus Easy “On-the-Go” Tips!)

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Courtney  |  January 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

    The pirates always gets the most use at our house. And the superheros!

  • 2. Andrea  |  January 22, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Great ideas Julie! My kids aren’t into dress up any longer but I remember how much fun we had together when they were.

  • 3. thriftypam  |  January 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Scarves are a great addition. That was one of my daughter’s favorites.

  • 4. jtulip  |  January 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I love the clip board, necktie and old cell phone ideas!

  • 5. Beeb Ashcroft (@hardertobreathe)  |  January 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    This brings back memories of playing dress-up when I was little!

  • 6. Liz Mays  |  January 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I never thought about old cell phones being a good addition, but you’re so right!

  • 7. Brett  |  January 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    oh, i LOVE the scarves for pirates!! what about shoes? shoes are marvelous too. and apparently, at least with my kids, it doesn’t matter what kind of shoes. just grownup ones.

  • 8. notquitesusiehomemaker  |  January 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    What a cute idea! I really need to make my son a dress up barrel- I’ll definitely be adding everything on the list!

  • 9. Amanda @ High Impact Mom  |  January 22, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    This is so fun! We have a HUGE dress up tub and yet I find that I need to add some of these to it as well!!

  • 10. High Impact Mom  |  January 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Great ideas! These are so fun and our dress up clothes tub is HUGE and still overflowing and yet…I really need to add some of these!

  • 11. What To Put in the Dress-Up Barrel? | A Year with Mom & Dad  |  January 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    […] my latest guest post at the Melissa & Doug blog, where I share 10 Must-haves for the Dress-Up Barrel, as well as a few games to make playing dress-up more […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to follow our blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 24,920 other followers

Twitter Tweets:

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: