Playing dress ups encourages tamariki to use their imagination and to be creative. It allows them to explore new ideas, understand and process their emotions. Just use whatever is around the house.

Why do it?

  • Pretending to be someone else helps children make sense of their world and other people.
  • They can try out different roles.
  • This activity can give children opportunities to be creative and explore characters.
  • Children can work through situations that are worrying them, such as a visit to the doctor.
  • Dressing up gives them practice at dressing and undressing.
  • Helps tamariki make good use of their imagination 
wig and glasses
wig and glasses

How to do it

Use whatever you have: Funny clothes, glasses, scarves, hats, hairstyles and makeup for the tamariki to choose from. 

  1. Get dressed: Take turns choosing clothing for each other.
  2. Style your hair with a hat, hair gel, or hair ties.
  3. Add funny makeup, a scar, freckles or a moustache!


  • Choose a new name. Talk in funny voices. Make a dress up box!
  • Ask tamariki who they are being and what else they need for their role.
  • Act out familiar stories or events, such as legends about people like Māui, tales such as ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, or more modern stories with heroes like Superman.
  • Encourage them to think creatively. Ask them what they could use to ‘invent’ props to add to their play — for example, Māui’s waka or the Batmobile.
  • Make animal ‘ears’ using cardboard or paper. Tape the ears to a headband or make a circle of cardboard and staple the ears on.
  • Make tails with pieces of fabric, or a leg cut from an old pair of pantyhose and stuffed with scraps of material. Tuck it into the back of their pants or tie it to a piece of elastic that fits around their waist.
  • Encourage them to put on a show for whānau. 

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English