Thursday, October 02, 2014

"Unscripted" Costumes



































Costume play has always been a fairly significant part of life at Woodland Park, or rather, I should say we have a lot of magnificent gowns and crowns, and we have an assortment of capes, all of which get quite a bit of use in the expected ways, while our animal, vocational, and other costume bits tend to get the short shrift. 


Among those bits that haven't been fully "discovered" are some colorful pieces made by an Icelandic company called Fafu. Unlike the other costumes that lend themselves fairly unequivocally to princess and super hero play, these are a sort of blank-slate approach to children's dress-up clothing. You might say they're "unscripted" costumes. Check out their website to see what I mean. I really like the quality of their stuff. Some of the felt pieces have endured outdoors in our wet climate for two years. And Fafu has, in my view, consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to children and creating high-quality, play-based environments for them.





All of us adults are enchanted by these Fafu items and over the years, many of our two-year-olds have allowed themselves to be dolled up in them, but when the older kids are making their own choices, they've almost always gone for the scripted stuff. 





We've started this year, however, engaged in a sort of informal experiment with our environment. We've removed the scripted costumes from the room, leaving only these unscripted Fafu creations. 


I'm planning to let the experiment run at least through October, possibly through the end of the year, depending on what transpires.


Being less than a month into the school year, it's too early to draw any conclusions, of course, but I am watching a few things already. 


Typically, I would have expected full-on princess play by now, at least with the older girls, with some amount of competition over the most prized dresses, and some amount of bonding over favorite Disney characters. I've heard no mention of Frozen.




Typically, I would have expected full-on super hero play by now, at least with the older boys, with some amount of intensive classroom discussion about the "rules" that go with that sort of play, and bonding over favorite Marvel or DC characters. I've heard no mention of Spiderman.




It may well be a coincidence, of course, the fact that we've started our year without princesses and super heroes. I have nothing against either, but it's interesting nonetheless.


Instead, these Fafu costumes have been used more as toys or enhancements to the regular flow of play. Yesterday, a group of boys donned some of the felt hats and hands and got a little wild dancing and just generally messing with each other. A couple of girls, both big time princess players in the past, put on the hats and hands to explore the coffee beans in our sensory table, challenging themselves to engage in fine motor manipulation without the full use use of their fingers. There have been more costumed animals than we've had in the past, like frogs and octopi and sharks. And the younger children have been using the "hats" for carrying collections of small objects around the room.



Interesting, huh?

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8 comments:

Julie Steed said...

Very. I am a big proponent of removing the scripted clothes out of our dramatic play area. Looking forward to sharing this at our next meeting to get more people on board. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this lovely post and the costumes look great. My children have a fairly extensive dress up collection (including many princess dresses/superhero outfits) but I have noticed lately that one of my 5 year old's favorite things to dress up with is a basket full of large fabric scraps and some pegs.

francifularts said...

Definitely interesting! I have a box of costumes I picked up at an amazing garage sale. Nothing "specific" like Spiderman or Snow White, but the girls sure fuss and fume over the dresses! Last year my assistant brought in some long white gloves, and then those became the hot item. Scarcity is a tough thing in a classroom. I don't mind prowling around the thrift store for a few more items, but honestly I don't have the storage space for much more! I love these Fafu costumes which are multi-purpose! I will have to check out the website!

Anonymous said...

My Scottish granny used to "move house" from California where we lived and back to Scotland until it got too cold. She'd sell off everything and start over by visiting the Goodwill in Los Angeles. In one of those visits she picked up the end of some bolts of chiffon from the garment district and gave them to us. The whole neighborhood played with those colorful fabrics for days on end. From caterpillars spinning cocoons to pretending we were wearing sari's we used our imaginations and cooperative social skills (try wrapping four feet of chiffon around a five year old friend!) without adult intervention. Thanks for bringing up that memory!

Suzanne Axelsson said...

We, too, have Ffu clothes... and have done for the last 18 months... we too started the year with no scripted clothes (although we had VERY few to start with) and without a shadow of a doubt the competetion evaporated... especially over ceratin dresses that had a higher status amongst the girls...

It has not stopped the princess play... the clothes and hats are transformed in to princess clothes... but I have seen how the children like to wear them to do other things too, and not just where them as a role...

They have also been great for outdoor play... they have been with us to the forest quite a few times... where hats become bags to collect things... especially the ones that look like they have handles... the cone hat would become telescopes (as there is a small small hole) or even fairy prisons...

Valerie Lui said...

Sounds like you had lots of fun!!

mary said...

Love the fufu. I add lots of plain fabric rectangles with long strips to use for tying. Lots of problem solving to make the fabric into a dress or cape or ....
It's fun to add smaller pieces to a doll area so the kids can make clothes for the dolls as well.

Sarah said...

Love the open ended dressup pieces idea, and I think I spy one of our rainbow playsilks there perhaps?
Sarah, sarah's silks

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