Physical development: All dressed up

Mastering the skill of dressing involves fine motor skills, body awareness and co-ordination. These games deliver the fun factor and the impetus for children to become independent.

Young children want to be independent, especially with dressing and undressing, but they need time and practise to get it right. Provide plenty of real opportunities within the setting such as boots and outdoor wear, safety gilets and helmets for construction areas, aprons for cooking, art shirts for messy play, and plenty of dressing up for role-play clothes and material. Pair this with plenty of time, minimal assistance and waiting for the children to ask or indicate they want help to support their independence.

  • Playing and exploring
    Children learn body awareness through an open-ended activity
    They become confident in their abilities as they practise and play with fasteners
    They demonstrate a ‘can do’ attitude while playing games and developing skills

Introduce children to body socks and help them climb in and then let them explore how they can move while wearing them. Encourage them to move like different animals, stretch and shrink, roll and bounce. Leave the body socks as a resource for children to play with, observe how they use them and encourage them to talk about how it feels on different parts of their body.

Place zips, buckles, laces, hooks, buttons and velcro fastenings on boxes and cushions, hiding objects or pictures behind them for the children to nd. Ask them to guess what it might be as they start to undo the fastening and some of the object or picture is revealed. These boxes and cushions can be placed together or scattered around the setting for the children to discover and play with.

Gather a couple of simple timers, some colour dice and a basket of hair scrunchies. Invite a couple of children to remove their socks and have some scrunchie fun. Ensure the scrunchies do not leave a mark on their skin. Pulling a scrunchie over their foot and up their leg develops the same skills needed for putting socks on without the frustration. They can use the timers to compete against themselves, trying to pull on more scrunchies each time. They can use the colour dice to decide which scrunchie to pull on next.

A box of material squares is great for a hide and seek game with a difference. Ask children to stand still and close their eyes while you hide a square somewhere in their clothes. When it’s your turn model your body awareness by thinking aloud such as ‘I felt something by my ankle, I think it’s up my trouser leg etc. Stickers are also fun for a variation of this game, they are a little harder to nd and pull off.

  • Active learning
    Children focus their attention, using trial and error to achieve their goals
    They enjoy using their skills and show pride in their achievements
    They persist in mastering the skills needed to dress themselves while having fun with their friends

Extend their skills with longer and more complex games. For children who enjoy races and a little competition make some parallel race tracks with start and finish flags using ropes. Place three items of clothing along each track. Use clothes which are larger than the children to make it easier and see what they do with the resources. They may want to find other pieces of clothing to add to the race tracks. They may want to theme the clothing such as people who help us or superheroes. Join in with the fun, trying to put on clothing too small for you in inventive ways.

Make a few simple scarecrow gures for the garden area, a basket of clothes and a dice with clothing pictures. Observe how the children make a game and help them to dress
the scarecrows if needed. Ask them to take photos of their scarecrows and annotate these to inspire other children to have a go.

Place a basket of clothing and a set of clothing cards together on a blanket and observe how the children play and create a game. Use open-ended questions to encourage them to change and develop the game, adding more items to the basket or maybe they have to choose colour coordinated clothing or what happens when they always pick the hat card, how many places on their body can they wear a hat? Model clothing language and think aloud when dressing up with them.

  • Creating and thinking critically
    They use their knowledge and skills of dressing to think of new ways to do things
    They become more independent with dressing and undressing as they play with different ideas
    They think about how to achieve an outcome, planning how to do it and then trying the ideas

Add an element of challenge to encourage the children to think about what they are doing when they dress and undress.

The coat challenge
Challenge children to find as many different ways as possible to put on a coat – hood first, left arm first, lay the coat on the floor upside down and slide both arms in first etc. Talk about which they find the easiest and why they think that is. They may wish t do this with other items of clothing too.

Shoe fun
Everyone removes their left shoe and puts it on the shoe mat, you then sing a song about shoes and dance around the mat. When the song is finished everyone one takes a shoe that is not theirs and finds the right owner who put their shoe back on. Do again with their right shoe. They may want to sort the shoes for colour, fastening type, size etc Ask them to think of other similar games with paired clothing such as socks or gloves.

Sing or make up songs about dressing such as ‘This is the way we put on our socks’ etc with everyone miming the action together. Challenge children to be a song leader and mime the action without the word, can everyone guess what they are putting on or taking off.

For those children who enjoy sharing books about dressing, challenge them to make their own books. They may wish to dress a teddy or doll and take photos. The photos could be used for a card game or sorting into order on a washing line. Encourage the children to think of lots of ways to use the resources they make.

Crazy fashion design
Hang some pictures of wacky designer clothing on the wall, add a variety of clothes (try Google for images), material, and accessories in baskets or on hangers. Make a small stage and set up a camera on a tripod. Encourage the children to create some weird and wonderful fashion designs, take a photo and ask them to name their design. This could culminate at the end of the week into a fashion show and or a fashion design book.

EYFS Early Learning Goals
As children play the dressing games they will have opportunities to develop and demonstrate the PSED Self-confidence and self-awareness objectives: Demonstrates sense of self as an individual, e.g. wants to do things independently, says ‘No’ to adult. Welcomes and values praise for what they have done. Enjoys responsibility of carrying out small tasks. Shows confidence in asking adults for help.

Body socks, Lycra sacks with an opening for the head, a variety of clothing items, the right size and larger, hair scrunchies, cloth squares, stickers, a variety of fasteners



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