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We Need Imaginative Play

Ah, the dress-up box.

My Facebook feed full of young parents tells me the quintessential childhood practice of playing “dress-up” is still alive. I imagine that many of you probably remember having homemade costumes too—putting on your mom’s heels or getting your cowboy chaps on. Freely embodying a character of your choosing was the stuff of childhood memories. In our home, the girls have everything from old dinner theatre aprons to my outlandish 90s dance outfits. What I see in their box is not just my own memories, but a chance for them to make new ones with the same outfits.

I love laughing at them when they show up downstairs in crazy wigs, pretending to cook and picnic with plastic food, or when I overhear my toddler’s silly improvised songs about what pink items she likes in her room. We have other opportunities to enjoy creativity with our older daughter’s music class where interpretive dance has a place. During the end of the year program, the music teacher lets the children use colored scarves to represent fish as they scurry around to the glockenspiel in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.    
Unfortunately, it’s no secret that teachers say that imaginative play has been edged out to make room for academic rigor in Western preschools and schools. Many conclude that play has no place when measured against kindergarten readiness for STEM jobs and technological advances. But what if the opposite were true? Dekko Trading wants to add a voice to bringing back play.               

It’s not all bleak. There are many voices that have advocated for imaginative play for over a century. Educational pioneer, Maria Montessori was a major proponent of believing children capable of much creativity when given hands on learning and “practical play”. Over 65 years after her death, Montessori schools are still in high demand all over the world (especially in India!).

Another voice comes through in a book I read recently. In The Tech-Wise Family, Andy Crouch strongly recommends leaving margin in our lives to create wonder and memories by having the tools to do so readily available. He approaches this by placing things that reward creativity at the center of his family’s home such a piano, an art table, or a journal, and pushing things that encourage passive consumption (TV, computer, stereo, etc.) out of the limelight.

A child’s dress up box certainly fits that bill. Hours of creative fun is at your child’s disposal with a box of assorted clothes. No beeps or electronic voices. Just exploring the limits of childhood creativity.

This line of thinking is what inspired Dekko to start carrying wonderful play silks made from recycled saris. The fabrics are beautiful and distinctly Indian in color palette and design. They come in a bag for organized play at home or on the go.  

Get one (or a bunch) today!

Writing credit: Rachel Lonas
Photo credit: Samantha Willis 



  • Kendra Sanders

    I purchased some sterling silver rectangle dangling earrings a few years ago. I lost them and I want to replace them and I don’t see them on the website. Is it possible to still get these?

  • Summer

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I think the content of this article resonates with many moms, myself included. Let children pretend, explore, and problem solve through play. I love the quote by Mr. Rogers, “Play is the work of children.”

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