Literacy Connections: Save Your Halloween Costumes for Playtime

Don't put away those Halloween Costumes yet!  It's time to make Literacy Connections!

My daughter had a very descriptive idea of what she wanted to be this year for Halloween.  She wanted to be Jessie from Toy Story.  I'm not sure where it started from, as we've only watched the movie a handful of times, but something in that character "Jessie" sparked her curiosity and imagination.  Two things we encourage in our house! 

Costumes are great for our Imaginations
It made me start to think about our children's imagination and using dress up clothes to identify with characters in movies and also to form new characters.  Then it made me realize that it would be a great connection to find as many books about the characters to get our children reading.  I wanted to make her costume that would last for awhile in our home for Dress Up time.   I used a simple idea that I hope to use for other characters as they develop.  We just used some fabric, fabric paint and yarn to create our costume, very budget friendly! 

Here's our creation!

I just made a simple vest pattern and added arms covers to it.  We painted it with red paint to represent Jessie's strips on her shirt and arms.  This idea is so basic that you could create all sorts of characters using this concept.  You can  just add the varying color to make the character and alter the arm design.

Here's what my costume pieces look like for "Jessie" the Cowgirl
More ideas to use with a Vest

Owl- brown vest and feather shaped arms and headband. See our post about Owl Headbands
Cat- black or white vest and paw shaped arms with Triangle ear headband
Dog- black and white spots vest and paw shaped arms with Dog shaped ears
Buzz Lightyear- Vest with buttons and arms with lazer
Firefighter, police officer, doctor, nurse, cowboy, ladybug, butterfly, spider with legs...

You get the idea... the idea is endless. 

If you have an idea I'd love to hear and/or see it!  Just email it to us at and we'll post it on our From Our Readers Page

Read a Book about your Costume
I just wanted to take a moment to suggest that you take advantage of this costume you've made or purchased for Halloween this year and put it to good use after Halloween.  Find some books about your child's character.  The local library is a great place to start! Book stores also have great selections on specific characters, a lot of them even for Beginning Readers.  Encourage dramatic play with their costumes and discuss characters and setting and plot to work on learning story elements. 
Write a Story about your Costume
When were were deciding on a costume, my daughter gave me very specific details of what the costume needed to have in her ideal world.  I even had her make me a picture and describe with words what it should have, great writing prompt on descriptive words. The other thing I suggest is to encourage your little one to create their own stories about this character.  You could even role play it with them before they begin.  The more they connect to an idea the easier it is to write about it. 

Your child needs to play!  There are so many benefits to dramatic playtime with your child.  Here are a few
  • Physical: increase in strength, overall fitness, motor skill development, health;
  • Cognitive: increase in skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, planning, organizing, language, and overall academic success;
  • Social and Emotional: enhanced development of cooperation, sharing, turn taking, less egocentrism, increase in prosocial values and self esteem, practice of appropriate social roles.
The Importance of Dramatic Play by PBS for more info
Building your Child's Imagination Here's a great site about building your child's imagination

Grab those Halloween Clearance Items or Garage Sale Treasures!
So as your out and about this week consider grabbing a few items on those clearance aisles to add to your collection of dress up items and find things that work for many characters.  The Dollar Tree also tends to carry items throughout the year to add to your Dress Up collection and the Dollar Spot at Target. 

Coloring Sheets for Toy Story You can use these for story prompts too!


maryanne @ mama smiles said...

We use and love Halloween costumes year round! Love all of the educational benefits you've listed here =)

Amanda said...

She is just TOOO cute! Love your ideas. You are such a creative mom =)

Kim@The Educators' Spin On It said...

Thanks Maryanne! We do too! Sometimes it's those validations we need as parents when we ask ourselves what are we teaching our children when we let them play all day.

Kim@The Educators' Spin On It said...

Thanks Amanda... she keeps me on my toes :) Just wait until you see her story she wrote, super cute.

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