Early Literacy Tip: Encourage Imagination – Play Dress-up

What children need to know about reading and writing before they can read or write is called early literacy. 

As your child’s caregiver, you are their first teacher.  The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five, a time your child spends with you. By age three, 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. As a child ages, the brain gets rid of weaker synaptic connections in favor of stronger ones. We can improve the strength of synaptic connections with experiences that reinforce learning that has already occurred. 

In our Building Blocks to Early Literacy series, we will share early literacy tips for you to do at home to help your child get ready to learn to read. 

Today’s Early Literacy Tip is: Encourage imagination during play time – Play dress-up! 

You should take every opportunity possible to encourage your child’s imagination and playtime is a wonderful place to do that.  You can have them give their toys funny voices or you could let them tell their own stories about the toy. 

One of our favorite ways to encourage imagination is to play dress-up during playtime. You can use lightly used clothing or purchase special costumes when they are available and inexpensive. Create your own characters like a princess or a pirate and tell your own stories. This helps increase your child’s narrative skills and encourages emotional and social development 

This is also a great activity if you have a playdate or your child is part of a play group. Let each child pick a character they want to play and you will be amazed how creative they can be fitting everyone’s characters into the narrative. This will help your child understand roles and learn to work and play together with other children. 

So bring out all your old clothes and costumes, and let your child find something that opens up their imagination and let the fun, and the learning, begin! 


Here are some books from the library collection with stories about dressing up:

Crafty Chloe Dress-Up Mess-Up by Kelly DiPucchio

Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma by David Soman

Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-Up by Susan Middleton Elya

Every Day Dress Up by Selina Alko

Rebekah Joy Shirley’s Let’s Play Dress Up series

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