20 Teacher-Approved Picks for Dress Up and Creative Play

For little astronauts, chefs, and princesses.

Whether they’re going on an imaginary grocery shopping trip or pretending to be a knight vanquishing a dragon, children get a ton of benefit out of creative play. When kids play make-believe, they build problem-solving, communication, and social-emotional skills. You can encourage that kind of dramatic play with a variety of materials. Below are our favorite teacher-approved items for dress-up and creative play. Enjoy!

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1. Police Officer Costume

We love Melissa & Doug, and they have an awesome costume for every community helper. In addition to police officers, they also offer costumes for a fire chief, construction worker, veterinarian, and many more!

2. Medical Kit

Most kids love to play doctor, and it’s a great way to help with anxiety around those actual visits. We love this bag with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, otoscope, syringe, and bandage.

3. Fairy Wings

With a set of wings, a child can transform into a fairy, a butterfly, or a Pegasus. There are less expensive options, but we like this set for durability.

4. Charcuterie Set

Play food is a must, but this charcuterie set with salami, brie, pull apart grapes, and crackers is just over the top charming. We also like Melissa & Doug and Hape for play food staples. 

5. Baby Doll

A child’s first role-play is often mom or dad. Let them learn to take care of a baby with this realistic, soft body baby doll from Miniland. Read more about why dolls are important in the early grades.

6. Superhero Cape and Mask

You could always go the Marvel or DC route (or heck, even PJ Masks), but we like this plain option for more open-ended play.

7. Shopping Cart

You can’t go wrong with this Little Tikes classic. This sturdy little cart even has a place for a favorite doll or stuffed animal. 

8. Castle Tent

Calling all knights and ladies! This play tent from Haba is perfect for medieval-inspired play. 

9. Play Kitchen

What is it with kids and playing restaurant? Give them a nice place to prepare their culinary delights. Our pick is this gender-neutral set from Step2. 

10. Astronaut Costume

To infinity … and beyond! This costume is the real deal—check out the NASA patch and movable visor helmet!

11. Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals are a great way to learn all kinds of concepts. For super high-quality stuffies, we recommend Jellycat. 

12. Cleaning Set

Kids love to play house. Nurture that cleaning habit with this broom and mop set. We also like the squirt and squeegee set, also from Melissa & Doug. 

13. Cash Register

We’re suckers for wooden toys. This little beauty comes with a code scanner and card reader. 

14. Campfire Set

Tent? Check. Lantern? Check. But pretend camping is going to be a whole lot more fun with s’mores. And we love those wearable bear paws!

15. Baby Stroller

We’re big Baby Stella fans, so we’re recommending this umbrella stroller from Manhattan Toy that fits their soft 12″ and 15″ dolls (but works for any doll of the same size).

16. Tea Set

Another must-have. For an eco-friendly tea party, we like this set from Green Toys. It meets FDA food standards, so you can use real food and drink!

17. Veterinarian Play Set

This darling kit contains a patient record pad, prescription pad, pet portrait stickers, die-cut vet tools, eight X-rays, sign, and diploma. Like it? Check out the restaurant set , also from eeBoo.

18. Hand Puppets

What better way to act out stories than with puppets? In addition to farm animals, Melissa & Doug also carries safari buddies and palace pals. Finger puppets are a fun, budget-friendly option. 

19. Building Blocks

A set of wooden blocks like this one from Hape leaves a lot of room for the imagination. Build a house, a bridge, or even a castle! These large cardboard blocks are great for more life-size fun. 

20. Mailbox Set

There’s something magical about snail mail when you’re a kid. Let them play letter writer or postal carrier with a mailbox they can personalize.

Did we miss your favorites for dress up and creative play? Share in the comments!

Plus, 16 Everyday Activities That Totally Count as Learning.

20 Teacher-Approved Picks for Dress Up and Creative Play

Posted by Kimmie Fink

Kimmie is an editor at WeAreTeachers. She has 13 years of classroom teaching experience and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

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