Jumping, climbing and running are all important ways for kids to engage in physical play, which is important for developing gross motors skills and promoting other developmental milestones. However, an equally important means for development is through imaginative play.

Imaginative play is essential for children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. This type of play includes make believe games and role plays. Studies have shown that imaginative play improves development across many important areas,such as self-regulation, language skills and problem-solving. Pretending to be different characters also helps kids to experience the lives of others and develop empathy.

You don’t need to spend big bucks to make a big impact. With just a few simple materials, you can create these amazing DIY make believe costumes to keep your kids entertained for hours.

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Boost your kids’ reading comprehension by giving them the opportunity to pretend to be some of their favorite storybook characters. Kids love acting out their favorite stories, and a favorite story for many kids is The Cat in the Hat.

This costume is ideal for twins or siblings, and it is as easy as sticking a printed sheet of paper to one of your red kid’s t shirts. However, be warned, these cheeky characters are experts at creating a huge mess.

Big Bad Wolf

Another beloved story book character is the big bad wolf. Let your kids huff and puff your house down in this great big bad wolf costume made from a kid’s sweat-shirt.

Fairy Princess Wand

Every fairy princess needs a magic wand. Make your little princess’ dreams come true with this simple fairy wand that can be made with items you can find around your home. Combine with DIY wings and a no-sew tutu for an amazing fairy outfit that will spell endless hours of imaginative fun for your fairy princess.

Butterfly Wings

No dress-up closet is complete without a gorgeous pair of wings. Create a pair of colorful butterfly wings for your little one to flutter around the garden. You can customize them with your child’s favorite colors, glam them up with sparkles or rhinestones, or you can get out the fabric paint, and let the kids decorate their wings in their favorite patterns.

This tutorial for butterfly wings also comes with links for other wing templates, such as a dragonfly, a bat and a fairy.

No-Sew Tutu

A tutu is essential for every dress-up box, and this easy no-sew version is perfect for crafty parents with little to no sewing skills, and you can even get the kids involved to develop some fine motor skills. Tutus are versatile pieces that are ideal for princesses and fairies, but don’t be surprised if you find your little pirate or superhero running around with this tutu on. They are the perfect addition to any outfit.

Astronaut Helmet

Blast off to imagination land with this space age astronaut helmet. Get your kids interested in STEM concepts, and have fun exploring the universe with some space-themed imaginative play. You could even go the extra mile and decorate a cardboard box like a rocket.

Cardboard Box Racecar

You kids will be racing around the house in this fun cardboard box race car. Just add some fabric straps to the front and back to make the car portable. It’s also a great opportunity to teach them about road safety, while having fun at the same time.

Dinosaur Tail

Give your favorite monster their very own dinosaur tail, and let them stomp around and crash through the house. This dinosaur tail also doubles as a dragon tail for those medieval monsters in the house. You will need some basic sewing skills to complete this, but it is a quick afternoon project that can be whipped up in on time.

Superhero Cape

Give your kids superpowers with an easy no-sew superhero cape. You can decorate it with your kids’ favorite superhero logos, or have them design their own cape for their own superhero.

Wonder Woman Cuffs

Let your little lady feel bullet-proof with this amazingly easy version of Wonder Woman’s bracelets of submission. This tutorial for superhero cuffs can be modified with the addition of some gold tissue paper or paint, for an empowering addition to your daughter’s dress-up box.

Wild Lion

Don’t limit your kids to imaginative play with human costumes; animal costumes are a great way for them to get creative and also learn about nature. While you are making this fantastic lion costume, take the opportunity to chat with your little one about endangered species and the importance of protecting our planet.

Pretty Bird

Give your child the opportunity to fly with this tutorial for colorful bird wings. Complete the look with a beak made from an old party hat, and your child is ready to explore the world with a bird’s eye view.

Tea Party Hat

Turn your little ones’ tiny tea party into a grand formal affair with these fabulous tea party hats. They are incredibly simple to make and can be decorated with almost anything you can find. What’s more, these cute costumes can be downsized for the “guests” at their party so that everyone will be dressed to the nines.

Pirate Rags

Ahoy mateys! Sail off on the high seas, and watch out for cookie jar pillagers when your kids dress up in this fun pirate costume. Make use of those old pants your kids have grown out of and a striped kids’ t-shirt, and you have a look fit for the fiercest of pirates.

Knights Shield and Sword

Adventure awaits chivalrous knights with this colorful shield and sword. Ask your children to come up with a design for the shield, and let them get messy while putting papier mache on the cardboard base.

Doctor’s Coat

Help them to visualize their aspirations for the future with some occupation-themed dress ups, such as this easy doctor’s coat. Just add a matching colored kid’s t-shirt and pants for a complete doctor’s costume, and your little doctor will be diagnosing every boo-boo and case of cooties in the house.

Chef’s Hat

Kids love helping in the kitchen. Help them to feel like a professional with this simple chef’s hat. Allowing them to take part in preparing the family’s meals will help them to gain valuable knowledge about where their food comes from, and teach them important life skills.

Final Thoughts

Imaginative play is an important way for kids to develop social and emotional skills. The best imaginative play comes when kids have ready access to a variety of dress ups to help them get into character. The great thing about most of these DIY dress-up clothes is that they can be mixed and matched to let your kids’ imaginations run wild.

Even if you aren’t the crafty type, many of these costumes don’t require any special sewing or crafting skills. Old clothes also make for some truly creative costume ideas. A box full of your old hats, shoes, dresses and accessories gives kids the raw materials to make their own costumes and characters.

Try some of these easy DIY dress up clothes and give your kids hours of entertaining and educational fun.