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Fancy Dress for Fancy Fun Need Not Be a Fancy Price

24/06/2013 | Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

Fancy dress is a wonderful opportunity for stimulating a child’s imagination. Never forget that creativity is an essential ingredient of problem solving.  It provides an opportunity to show how much fun being creative really is but in our modern world we too often think that fancy dress is about the latest outfit sold at your local supermarket. True the costumes look good to our children but aren’t we taking the easy way out. Fancy dress should always be about fun but it is also the perfect time to stimulate those creative juices

If you are worrying that you have a somewhat stilted creativity yourself then don’t worry. Children are often far more easily pleased than we might think, especially if the creativity routines start early enough. If you want a good example of how a little they actually need then try this one.  Place your two or three year old at a sink of warm soapy water with a variety of cups and containers and see how long they are happy to amuse themselves. On the same level, why do the youngest of toddlers all seem to gravitate to the sand pit?  Simple activities provide levels of enjoyment and stimulation we often overlook.  The same argument applies to fancy dress.

Never mind fancy dress, just find a large box, preferably wooden and aged to give it an air of mystery and fill the box with a range of fabrics and props that can be used with your encouragement. A dressing up box like this can be the source of ongoing entertainment, excitement and stimulation at very little cost.

What little boy would not jump at becoming Superman when presented with a bright red cape?  Of course they would and all you need to do is substitute a bright red piece of fabric for bright red cape and the jobs done. Stimulating imagination and creativity is something of a paradox, you need to get the creative juices flowing and then step back for the magic to happen of its own accord. Find a selection of things to put into your dressing up box. Focus on colours, textures and of course sizes.  Don’t forget to add “accessories” – let’s face it where would Darth Vader be without a Light Sabre? You should look to fill your dressing up box with things that can be related to your child’s interests. If they like horses and ponies than include a horses tail made of brown wool, the secret is to look for things that you can point out later.

The next stage in the magic is for you to prepare some simple prompts. Don’t expect a young child to come up with bright ideas, they just don’t have enough experience of the world around them. Think of your prompts and match them to the items you have already secreted in your dressing up box. Finally you can start to make references to dressing up.  “Tomorrow morning we can play dressing up – I wonder what secrets are in the magic box?”is a good way to start to make things exciting and come tomorrow morning, with a few simple prompts from you, some even simpler costumes and props from  your box  creativity and imagination should take over and you should be able to step back and let the magic happen.

It is then a simple matter to make the dressing up box an ongoing experience. All you have to do is find a few new additions to replace the less favoured items and you will keep the experience fresh and liked.

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