Each PlayCorps team has a variety of fabrics and props on hand for various dress-up games. Here are some glimpses into the imaginary dress-up play that goes on in PlayCorps parks:
One Wednesday morning at BILLY TAYLOR PARK, a very special 6-year-old from Mt. Hope Learning Center got married. Dressed in a strapless gown with a flowing train and clutching a bouquet of pipe cleaner flowers, she scaled the playground’s rock walls, jumped from platforms and ran circles around the rest of us. Making dresses out of fabric scraps and binder clips has been a trend at this park, but the pretend wedding exceeded all expectations. Despite missing a groom, our bride was not alone. She was accompanied by a bridesmaid wearing a dress of white and blue fastened at the waist with yet another pipe cleaner flower. Both girls posed for a photo shoot as we chased after them, fixing their dresses as needed. Even with some cold feet right before the ceremony, it was a beautiful event, complete with the bride zip-lining away to her honeymoon.
At BUCKLIN PARK one day, one child not only became Rapunzel by creating a cascade of pink hair for herself out of some fabric, but she also made herself a loyal unicorn out of some cardboard with a comb as the horn. She rode her unicorn throughout the park and even adorned herself with some pipe cleaner jewelry.
Casey and the Playmobile team have an especially impressive array of costumes and props on hand. Here's a story about the Playmobile, and some incredible dress-up play in DONIGIAN PARK:
"Let's have a fashion show," said an 8 year old girl to a group of kids while digging through a bin of costumes. Picking up on the 8-year-old's play cue, Play Leader Casey immediately said, "I think you need a stage. How about some cardboard?" As Casey ran to the Playmobile to grab some cardboard, Providence Children's Museum AmeriCorps members Catelyn and Paris (who accompanied Casey and the Playmobile this summer) set up a multi-colored parachute on the grass for the audience to sit on.
"I know, let's make it a talent show" said one girl wearing a pink and black tutu, holding a ribbon wand, and two other girls picked up ribbon wands, too. Casey responded, "Great idea! Do you have stage names you want me to introduce you as?" "Chloe," " Ariel," and "Wonder Woman," they replied. "Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, now introducing the amazing Chloe, Ariel and Wonder Woman," proclaimed Casey in a theatrical voice. The three girls made shapes in the sky with rainbow ribbons and smiles on their faces, and the audience cheered.
Next, a boy wearing an oversized shirt with balloons printed on it and oversized striped pants took the stage and told jokes. "What begins with a b, ends with a t, and looks like two mountains?" "A butt!" he exclaimed, and the kids roared with laughter.
Next up, a boy asked to be introduced as the Daredevil Motorcyclist. He rode his bike down a small hill and then when he was on level ground, he stood on the pedals and lifted one foot. The audience cheered. One of the girls decided to become the MC and introduced the acts. Another boy put on multi-colored shorts, a giant bowtie and a striped hat and asked to be introduced as "Clown Swag." Then another boy grabbed all of the hula hoops and took the stage, trying to hoop with 10 hoops around his waist.
Another boy grabbed a foam noodle and spun it around like a baton. The girls decided to make a limbo stick by holding a ribbon tight, and kids immediately began bending backward beneath it. One of the boys decided to anounce the acts next, and before long there were kids plate spinning, flag spinning, juggling, and more. For the grand finale, a boy put himself in a giant blue sparkling bag made of stretchy fabric. Another boy introduced him and he lay immobile on the ground. Then the announcer put woodchips on top and the bag, and the boy magically came to life!
Casey and the Playmobile team routinely found that the children at Donigian, and all the parks they visited, are endlessly inventive when given the space and materials to play. A simple idea from a child ... "let's have a fashion show" ... evolved into a full-scale, collaborative, and imaginative talent-show effort.