13 DIY Dress Up Costumes & Props

do it yourself costumes and props for dress up and pretend playPretend play is a must but spending too much on costumes and props is not. We love finding costumes at big box stores on clearance after Halloween but we also love making our own. Most of these DIY costumes and props are still around my house and are among the most treasured play things. These are all fantastic ways to support your child’s pretend play even if pretending doesn’t come naturally to you.

Paper Bag Cowboy Costume
Easy Princess Tutu
Batman Mask
Princess Wand
Superhero Cuff
Pirate Hat
Light Saber
Alien Headgear
Knight Shield
Pig Nose
Heart Wand
Creature Power Suit
Paper Beard

North Pole Play Mat

When I was asked to check out and create something festive with these Tulip Shimmer Sheets and Paints my first thought was a tree. Then this happened. My kids started playing cars together every day. I knew what I needed to make with all this glitterly goodness – a North Pole Play Mat ! This isn’t a kids craft but the end result is an awesome pretend play toy for your kids. Also who said that crafts need to be perfect? I am clearly no artists and my kids love this play mat. Here is how I did it.

  1.  Gather your materials. You will need a sheet or pillow case if you want to make a smaller play mat. You will also need Tulip Shimmer Sheets, Tulip Shimmer Paints ,Stick on jewels, glue and glitter. You will also need  a marker, scissors and an iron.Shimmer Sheets
  2. Start by drawing out the layout of your North Pole. I did this on craft paper first then laid my sheet over the paper and traced with a permanent marker.
  3. Next start adding the shimmer!  The easiest way to do this is to use the iron on  shimmer sheets . Take them out of their plastic sleeves and use the sleeve as a tracing paper. Trace the outline off of the outline already on the sheet . Slip the shimmer sheet back in the sleeve and cut. It fits right on! Iron it on following the directions on the package. So easy!shimmer sheets by tulip
  4. I also used the Shimmer Paint to make Santa’s house. I was amazed with how vibrant it was when it dried.
  5. After all the shimmer sheets were used for the toy shop, tree, elf houses and barn it was time to add some more sparkle! I used the stick on jewels for Christmas lights on Santa’s house, the toy shop and the tree as well as all over the reindeer barn.  I also used the heat set jewels to make the wreath. They were so much easier than I expected them to be. I so rarely craft with adult tools, please no kids it gets HOT.
  6. For the final touch I used some of the glitter glue and glitter for snow on roof tops and some snow banks along the road.  Let dry for 24 hours , trim the edges to make it small enough to play with and use no sew bond to hem it.
  7. And PLAY! I finished this last week and it’s been out in the center of the playroom floor since. The kids love it and have been playing North Pole daily.

Find more ideas and inspiration from Tulip on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. 

I wrote this as part of a paid campaign with Tulip and Blueprint Social . The craft idea and opinions are all mine.

25 Easy Pretend Play Ideas

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pretend play activities

Pretend play is one of the essential preschool activities for children. When I would meet a new student who did not know how to engage in pretend play my heart would sink and immediately I’d run through all my ideas in my head to see which would spark their interest and open the door to a world of limitless possibilities. That is what pretend play is but that isn’t why it’s so important. Kids aren’t just living in what many adults would call a fantasy world, instead most of their play has deep roots in reality, and it offers them a chance to practice social situations, adult roles and even play out fears and anxiety in a safe place.

See why it’s so important?

Still starting this journey can be hard for families so below I have some easy to set up scenarios and easy to make props to serve as launching pads. Don’t make the boundaries too rigid, just use these ideas to set the scene and let your child run with it, you sit back and play along. There is no need for specific goals – just play. Trust me they are learning more than we think they are.

  1. Superhero Props & Play
  2. Playdough Cupcake Bakery
  3. Vet Clinic
  4. Laundry Basket Sail Boat
  5. Airplane Voyage
  6. Princess Wand
  7. Pretend Play Elevator
  8. Robot Costume
  9. Weather Man
  10. Pizza Parlor Play
  11. Music Stand for Kid Concerts
  12. Kitchen Camp Out
  13. Cowboy Vest
  14. Pretend Play Art Gallery
  15. Coffee Shop Play
  16. Cereal Box Laptop
  17. Fire Truck
  18. Restaurant Play
  19. Science Lab
  20. Bubble Wand Lightsabre
  21. Library Play
  22. Knight’s Shield
  23. Santa’s Workshop – Be An Elf !
  24. Grocery Store Play.
  25. Post Office Play .

These are just our favorites . Browse through all our Pretend Play Ideas Here.

What does your child like to pretend to be?

Playdough Play Mats – Silly Hairdos!

This sensory activity allows kids to use their imagination to give you or themselves a new hairdo with playdough. My toddler is a huge fan of playdough play and it’s great stuff for toddlers and preschoolers… but my 5 year old gets bored easily sometimes. It’s not essential we all play the same things but it’s nice to play and be silly together .It was inspired by this paint project from Putti Prapancha . Adapting it to playdough  allowed us all to sit and play together .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sheet protectors, some photos of faces that you can cut, playdough ( ours is store bought but homemade will work a-ok), a few sheets of construction paper, some scissors, painters tape, double stick tape and a garlic press.
  2. Start by cutting out the faces from some family pictures. Cut off the hair! playdough ideas
  3. Tape them onto the construction paper using double stick tape.
  4. Slip it into a page protector. I had to trim my construction paper to fit.Tape to the table with painter’s tape if you have a little one like my daughter who takes great pleasure in “clearing off” tables.
  5. Start playing. We used the garlic press, our hands and scissors to make the hair. preschool play dough stuff
  6. My daughter loved putting it on my face, apparently she wants me to have a goatee. Don’t worry about toddlers putting the hair in the “right” place, there is no “right” place.  Talk about who they are looking at , talk about how squishy the playdough is and ask if they have hair etc… no need to make it a battle of wills, this is supposed to be play, so let them explore.
  7. We rotated through the pictures taking turns ( another good lesson) .He loved mixing the colors in the garlic press.
  8. Squeezing it out.
  9. Adding it on. For some reason the concept of chest hair has been a big topic at our house – not something I was expecting until closer to puberty but ok. He added some on his sister and himself. Have fun with this.

Books About Families

Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is one of those books that you read and think oh I love it, but will kids? I am here to tell you yes! They love this old Yiddish folk tale about a little boy, his very special blanket and his grandfather who made it for him. Over the years Joseph’s blanket transforms into a jacket, a vest, a tie, and handkerchief and finally a button. The story is beautiful and kids love not only the repetitive text when the grandfather is sewing but also the continuing storyline of the mice that live under the floor boards who use the scraps of material for all sorts of things. There are no goofy gimmicks, no lights or sounds just a great story and beautiful illustrations in this gem! A fantastic book about family and growing up.

All Kinds of Families! by Mary Ann Hoberman was not what my son or I expected at all. The story is really disjointed both connecting similar objects into families and talking about the generations of a family. I like  that it explains that there can be all sorts of families  and that it talks about how your family makes you into new things like a son, sister or cousin but I think mixing the two is too disconnected for the average picture book reading kid. To be honest it was a little disjointed for me too.  My son was ready for it to be over half way through and that is never a good sign. Usually by the time he’s asked if it’s over he’s tuned out. The illustrations were cute but even they didn’t save it for us.

The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while they may not all look alike, all families are made with love. Great book , cute illustrations and children love it.

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Pretend Play – Vet Clinic

Pretend Play Vet Clinic

Pretend play is probably my favorite part of early childhood education because there are countless lessons hidden in every pretend play scenario. We turned our playroom into a vet clinic simply by mixing a few stuffed animals with our trusty doctor kit and rearranging the furniture. It was fast for me to set up and both kids enjoyed taking care of their animals. Along the way they learned about body parts, empathy and my son and I had a nice chat about prescriptions and why it’s important to only ever take medicine the doctor has specifically prescribed for you .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some stuffed animals, a play doctor kit , some paper, a clip board, marker , and a bench or table to use as an exam table. I added a basket for my daughter who wanted to tuck her patients into bed after she examined them.
  2. Set up a waiting area with furniture and books – our books were all about dogs and cats, you can check out our reviews after the tutorial.
  3. Set up an exam room. I labeled each area and encourage you to as well, it helps deepen the play as well as adds some reading to the activity. Pretend Play Vet Clinic
  4. Make a check list for older kids who are reading and either have them write or circle answers. Can you tell I did this in a hurry? It was almost time to get my son from school. Best thing is he didn’t care, as long as he could read it no need to be perfect!
  5. Play! My daughter examined her cat trying out each instrument and having just had her own 18 month old check up she was familiar with many of them. I chatted with her as she played but didn’t intervene unless she interacted with me. I did pretend to nurse the cat as per her request.
  6. She loves her patients!
  7. With my son I pretended to be the dog and cat’s owners but followed his lead.
  8. We worked in measurement and gave the pup a little oxygen.
  9. The puppy got a clean bill of health!

Books About Cats and Dogs

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (If You Give… Books) by Laura Numeroff is one of the newer “If You Give…” series. I like this one , I mean any book with a cat in a bathing suit is worth a look. I am a big fan of these stories not only because they have just the right amount of text for young preschoolers, but also because the illustrations by Felicia Bond are so detailed you can spend ages talking about what your child sees in the book after the words are read. I love the cause and effect , and after a few readings your child will have fun telling you what’s next.

Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

Otto Goes to the Beach by Todd Parr was a steal of a deal at the Goodwill ! I got a hardcover in perfect condition for 70 cents. My bargain hunting aside, I really enjoy this book as did my son. Otto is a dog who goes to the beach but no one wants to do the same things as he does, even the fish swim the other way! In the end after feeling very sad Otto finds a new friend and all his misery is forgotten. I love Todd Parr books, I love the insanely bright colors, the cute simplistic illustrations and I love the messages they send. This book followed his other books perfectly and provided a great final message about not giving up finding a friend who will like all the same things you do!

This post was shared on Nurture Store’s Play Academy