Lately I have noticed that some of the children a very interested in dresses. The children will regularly bring scarves to me and ask me to help them “make a dress,” which essentially means tying the scarf around their chests, with the knot either in front or back, or hanging loose from their necks. I thought that this was worth sharing, because what I have noticed is that this interest is inclusive of all genders and ages at Elm House. It seems that one would be equally likely to see a boy or a girl, and a younger or an older toddler walking around with a “dress” on. Here are a couple of stories about the children and dresses at Elm House.
One afternoon in mid-December I opened the door to the studio to ask Jackie a question. ZP saw me and immediately said, “Mage! Look at my dress!” “Yes, it’s a very nice dress, ZP,” I responded. Jackie informed me that ZP had been wearing a dress every day that week, and simply would not go anywhere without it!
Mage: ZP, may I take a photo of you in your dres?
ZP: Yes, my dress! Very pink!
Mage: Yes, your dress is very pink.
ZP: Yes. Had it on in the basement. I was singing! Let it gooo, let goooo.
Mage: You had the dress on in the basement and you were singing “Let it go” from Frozen?
ZP: Yes, Frozen.
Last week LS was in the basement with the younger toddlers: BL, MC and HB. LS asked for help tying a dress. Then she became interested in seeing the other children wear dresses, too! She brought a scarf to MC and said, “It’s a dress for you! Put it on!” MC, thrilled at the attention from an older child, but unsure what to do, stood there nodding, smiling, and holding the scarf out expectantly. “Put it on! Here! Put on a dress!” LS put the scarf around MC’s neck, and it slid down to the floor. She then asked me if I would help MC to put a dress on. So I asked MC if she wanted a dress, and she agreed.
Then LS noticed that there was one more scarf. She went to HB and said, “Do you want to wear a dress?? Here is a dress for you!” as she handed him the pink scarf in her hand. HB said, “YEAH!” and again the children asked for adult help in putting on a dress.
I thought this was a particularly sweet moment, because so often the older children are hesitant to include the younger children in their play. It was good to see an older child extend an invitation to play to the younger children.
I would love to see this dramatic play with dresses flourish and evolve. Do you have any big scarves at home you would like to donate, or other play dresses? What does the dramatic play with dresses make you think about? Do you have ideas to extend this play?