Clothes from Many Cultures

Mother and toddler son in native headdresses

Social: To provide opportunities where children can play alongside other children to encourage co-operative play as well as trust and self-confidence.

Age Groups: ,


This is an activity that will encourage toddlers to explore cultural clothing and their different styles, fabrics and patterns to support their sense of self. Contrasting themselves is a way toddlers learn to become an individual and appreciate themselves.

You will need:

  • Old cultural clothing donated from family, friends, or found in your own closet (depending on availability, it is okay to mix and match different cultural clothing).
  • Full length mirror
  • Tips: Ask parents for donations and/or see what is available at yard sales and thrift shops. Suppliers of educational materials often have cultural clothing available as well.


  1. Create an enriched collection of dramatic play props by including clothing that reflects different cultures.
  2. As your toddler is picking clothing, comment on the colours, patterns, textures and fabrics. For example, “Henry look at the soft train on this t-shirt, do you need help putting on the t-shirt?”
  3. Allow your toddler to dress themselves as they engage in pretend play. Feel free to comment on their actions. For example, “Henry, you are zipping up your red jacket”.
  4. Let your toddler experiment and lead the play while you follow.
Accessibility IconThe accessibility icon suggests tips, such as materials or tasks, which will make an activity easier for children with a range of abilities to practice skills that support social, emotional, gross motor, fine motor and intellectual developmental milestones.


  • Allow for independence during dressing.
  • Learn to put on simple clothing (i.e. t-shirt, pants) without help.


  • Provide a variety of cultural clothing.
  • Develop imagination to view differences in self (i.e. see themselves from an Asian background).

Enriching Learning Through the Everyday Moments

  • Provide a full length mirror so your toddler can admire themselves in the different clothing they try on. This encourages independence during dressing as they can view their actions.
  • Include clothes with different kinds of fasteners (i.e. buttons, zippers, Velcro) to let your toddler begin to get familiar with fasteners.
  • Give children opportunities to practice their skills by dressing dolls.
  • Provide paper dolls or felt board pieces showing clothing from different cultures adds to visual learning.

Recommended Reading

  • Hats and Shoes and Clothes by Debbie Bailey
  •  Clothing Around the World by Kelly Doudna
  • Whose Clothes are Those? by Shaneen Bilgrami