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    News — Dress-up

    4 Steps to Encouraging Imagination at Home

    4 Steps to Encouraging Imagination at Home

    "The power of imagination makes us infinite." -John Muir 

    It’s the start of summer and our family has already enjoyed a wonderful mix of adventures thanks to travel and exploring the outdoors but I admit, when at home we've succumbed to TV more than I'd like, so I've been researching activity and exploration to encourage a child's imagination and playfulness at home.

     

    1. Have materials on hand! We love having a craft drawer full of crayons, paper, stickers, and play-dough, but I'm also constantly on the lookout for materials that can be recycled and repurposed into art. Water bottle caps can be the perfect start to googly eyes, and empty toilet paper rolls can transform into bracelets, building materials, or a pretend telescope. Leave it to a child’s imagination to create something new, beautiful, and fun!

     2. Encourage pretend play -- the Snickerdoos specialty! Pretend play is a remarkable tool for learning and growth. From using new vocabulary to practicing cooperation, we love witnessing the transformative power of play as children create stories and characters with their vivid imaginations. It can be helpful to provide props like tea cups, a children’s cash register, or a Snickerdoos costume to spark and encourage pretend play. 

    3. The next one is simple and no tools or materials are necessary: Ask questions!Children are great at being naturally curious and asking questions, and it is fun to flip the script and be curious with them, too! Ask them about their feelings and experiences. What do you love to do with your friends? Tell me about your favorite adventure? You will be expanding their use of vocabulary and getting a peek into their mind.

     

    4. Spend time outside! The great outdoors provide us with an incredible landscape for learning and calming. While outside in your own yard, dig in deeper with a scavenger hunt or by initiating collecting and sorting of leaves, flower, rocks, etc. Both scavenger hunts and collecting provide opportunities for children to discover and adventure in a familiar place while stretching their views and interests. 

    Who Am I?

    Who Am I?

    Did you know that by reading and telling stories, children begin to tackle some of life’s big questions: who are we and how did we come to be? 

    In the playroom and in social settings, children begin to develop their identity through storytelling. Children often recount meaningful life experiences and events that both define and excite them. One of my daughter Louise’s favorite stories to tell is of the day we ran into a friend at the mall and then later at the beach. “It was craziest day ever!” This wonderful form of self-expression and communication helps children begin to manage their self-identity. 

    But where does story-telling all begin?

    One of the most valuable ways in which children begin to understand storytelling and story structure is by being read to by their parents, caretakers and teachers. Fairy tales are full of moral obligations, what is right and wrong, this where children begin to gain feeling of conscious and therefore self-worth. Fairy tales are also filled with enchantment and wonder, painting an imaginative world where a child is able to look inward and identify their own feelings and emotions. Ask your child: Why did that story make you so happy? 

    Here are some of my favorite children’s books: 

    Raise Your Hand by Alice Tapper

    This book encourages girls to be brave, to be bold, and to participate! We must note that Alice Tapper was only 11 years old when she penned this beautiful book! 

     

    Stand in my shoes Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson, Ph.D. 

    This book introduces the concept of empathy and noticing the feelings of others. Do we need to say more!? 

    Moody Cow Meditates by Kerri Lee MacLean

    Kids can meditate too! This is a wonderful book for children and parents to share together and discuss the concept of mindfulness.  

    What Do You Do With an Idea? By Kobi Yamada

    Wow! Do we love this book! When we were developing Snickerdoos, we felt like we were going through all the same emotions as the lead character in What Do You Do With an Idea? From toddlers to adults, it can be scary to share our ideas and feelings; and Yamada beautifully helps to illustrate that is completely normal! 

    And of course, you know my favorite costumes for supporting and enhancing a child’s story-telling: Snickerdoos! 

     

     

     

    Be Childish. Yes, Childish!

    Be Childish. Yes, Childish!

    What Can We Learn From Kids?

    Some kids are dare devils—naturally curious and up for adventure at every turn. Some kids are observers and hesitant to dive in until they are familiar and feel safe. Most are honest (or really really bad at being dishonest) with their feelings and experiences. But what most kids have in common is that they are fully present seeking out only things that make them smile.

     

    I believe as adults there are many opportunities to look to children as our teachers and inspirations.

    1. Believe in possibilities. “Irrational” and “impossible” are two words that are not in a child’s vocabulary until it is introduce with time and age. Children are inspiration with their aspirations and hopeful thinking. If something has to be  dreamed before it is reality, isn’t this a great place to start!?
    2. Be fully present. To me this is the most challenging and the most important. I love Oprah’s Supersoul podcast that she opens with the simple reminder “I believe one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time. Taking time to be more fully present.” 
    3. Nurture friendships. Children find joy in playing with friends and making new ones. Never hesitant to go to a new park and find common ground with others—often on the monkey bars.  
    4. Be Courageous. At wedding or local fair isn't usually the youngest who boldly find a spot first on the dance floor-- embracing joy and the opportunity for fun.

    As the founder of Snickerdoos, I love a child’s natural curiosity that shine in role play and their boldness to experiment and create a new world around them. 

    Be bold, be present, and be childish! 

    -Natalie Smith

    Illustration by Lisa Congdon

     

       

       

      BENEFITS OF DRESS UP (Hint: it’s not just preparing your child for the stage)

      BENEFITS OF DRESS UP (Hint: it’s not just preparing your child for the stage)

      When I decided to create a new costume line for children, I knew two things—that I wanted to make dress up more comfortable, and that I wanted to cultivate children’s natural curiosity about real world characters and heroes. What I didn’t know was the multitude of benefits that dress up can offer a child: from supporting their confidence and joy to promoting their cognitive, emotional, and social development!

      Did you know that early play can enrich a child’s literacy?

      One day, Louise (my daughter) came home from school and was so excited to report that there was a special visitor that day: a lovely librarian named Michele. Later that day, I found a pamphlet from the library on activities to help prepare Louise for reading tucked away in her backpack. I’m not a literacy expert myself, and was surprised to see some activities listed that I wouldn’t have associated with reading! The four stepping stones listed to prepare your child for reading were talking, singing, playing, and writing (scribbling counts too)!  

      I was thrilled to see playing listed among these reading readiness skills—it’s something we do often, and I love encouraging it on our Snickerdoos platforms.

      I dug in to find out more and learned that play, in addition to being fun, helps children think symbolically. For example, have you ever noticed how a child can associate a wooden block with a phone from a young age? Hi! Hi!…Bye-bye! That is because at a young age, children begin thinking symbolically. One shape or symbol can represent and giving meaning to another. This kind of symbolic thinking can relate to reading as children begin learning that each individual letter (shape) represents a particular sound.

      So where does dramatic play come in?

      During dramatic play, children create and act out stories, which builds their knowledge and understanding of how a story works. This helps them understand the characters, structures, and themes when they begin to read books. Who is going to play doctor, who is the patient, and what will happen next?!

      I am constantly in awe of the power of play-based learning. I could just scream it from the roof-tops: not a minute is wasted on the playground or in the playroom!

      Preparing to launch!

      Preparing to launch!

      Hello, hello!

      It has been an incredible year of researching, designing, learning, and collaborating, as I developed a new line of children’s costumes: Snickerdoos! After lots of hard work, these magical, wearable costumes are almost ready to hit the market.

      I can’t wait to share our monthly blog and newsletter, which will explore all the wonderful benefits of dress up, provide play-based resources, and keep you informed on all the latest news from Snickerdoos!

      So, where do I begin? The inspiration? Snickerdoos all began with my daughter, Louise.  

      Have you ever witnessed a child’s pure joy and excitement when they use their imagination? Or how thrilled they are when they learn something new and are able to show off that knowledge? Louise’s uninhibited zeal for dress-up sent me on a mission to improve what was in her costume drawer.  

      I hope to make dress-up as comfortable and sensory-friendly as it is fun! I understand that children have different sensitivities, and we kept this in mind during the design process. We eliminated all tags, scratchiness, and glitter from our costumes, and manufactured them only with the softest materials. I want every Snickerdoos child to find our costumes as comfortable and wearable as their everyday clothing!

      What makes Snickerdoos unique is our desire to encourage a child’s learning and development through dress up.

      Doctors, Dinosaurs, and Tigers, oh my! We design characters that encourage children to learn, think, and find meaning in the world around them. In costume, children have the opportunity to expand their vocabulary, and practice using the words they already know: Pass the stethoscope! Through role-play, children are able to give these words context  by acting out scenarios that use them. Suddenly, check-ups can feel playful! The cognitive and emotional benefits of dress up go far beyond the fun.

      My goal is simple, but important: to support and inspire the children wearing our costumes.

      We will also give costumes and the opportunity for dress up to children in need through an organization called Beverly’s Birthdays. Learn more about them on Social Mission page our website!

      When Snickerdoos launches in just a couple of days, we will continue to learn and adapt in every way possible to benefit you and the children in your life! I would love to hear your feedback, questions, and suggestions to help me create the best possible experience for the Snickerdoos kids.

      Thank you so much for your time in reading this and going on this journey with me!