Getting your toddler or preschooler dressed and ready to go can be a chore, but clothing activities teach her skills that might make the morning routine go more smoothly. Fun and engaging clothing activities also teach your little one skills that are beneficial for her development. And you'll be delighted to see her in your no-longer favorite bonnet, your old silk scarf and an old purse, as she struts around the house, ready to buy the latest Paris couture. Or so she thinks.
1. Playing Dress-Up
Keep a collection of costumes, hats, scarves and fun accessories for dramatic play. Encourage your child to play dress up and incorporate lessons about the seasons how to dress for the weather. Include clothing items that have buttons, snaps and zippers for her to practice.
2. Sorting and Washing
Toddlers like to imitate work that their parents and caregivers do. When sorting dirty laundry, ask him to toss the whites into one basket and everything else into another basket. When sorting and folding clean clothes, ask him to match socks or sort clothing into piles -- Dad's stuff in one pile, children's clothing in another pile, and so on. Sure, doing the laundry might take a little longer than if you were doing it yourself, but by including your little one in the care of his clothing, you're teaching him an activity that has a practical purpose and helps him learn about size and shape and develops his problem solving skills.
3. Fine Motor Skills
Give your child a clean basket of socks and T-shirts and a bucket of clothes pins. Ask him to hang them on a drying rack or string a clothing line at his height so he can practice hanging them up, just like Mom does. This kind of activity develops his fine motor skills and finger strength.
4. Making Good Choices
Cut out pictures from magazines of people in various states of dress: a person wearing a winter coat, another in a bathing suit, kids in casual clothing and people in formal attire, and so on. Collect a wide variety and glue them on to index cards to play matching games with your child. Ask your child to find two people who are ready to go out in the rain, two who are dressed for church and so on, a group who is wearing clothing for the playground, and so on. Matching activities help your child develop a sense of reason and encourages language development. And, if your child learns to articulate the importance of dressing for the occasion during a game, it might be easier to have the same conversation while dressing for school, a visit to a holiday dinner, or for the weather.
Allow your child to express himself through dress. That doesn't mean you have to let him wear his superhero pajamas all day just because he wants to, but choose a day or two during the week when he can wear anything he wants as long as it's seasonally appropriate. Purple tutu with butterfly wings and mismatched sneakers? Why not? Express your enthusiasm for her creative choices. There's plenty of time to teach fashion sense in the future.