Making a Costume is a Learning Experience!

Whether we observe Halloween or prefer a Harvest Celebration, costumes are often on our minds in October. Part of that reason is because whether it’s a store-bought costume, or one that is sewn, we’re bombarded with ads that say “pick me”!

There’s a third choice that we don’t often hear about because no one makes money on it, and that would be a costume that the child makes. If your child decides they want to make their own costume, it can be quite a learning experience!

Kids learn all the time, whether we are teaching formal lessons or not. And sometimes they teach us. When my son was 5, he announced that he would be making his Halloween costume that year. It was summer at the time, and he had decided that he would be an astronaut for Halloween.

I’ll admit I was a bit amused that he was planning so far ahead, but I went along with it. He didn’t want to buy a costume, and he didn’t want me to make one. He was very clear that he was going to make it by himself.

First he researched what an astronaut would need by pulling out his visual dictionaries and other books so that he could study pictures of astronauts.

Then he started gathering what he needed to create the ideal costume that he envisioned. In his mind, it wasn’t play, although it would have looked like that to most adults. He was earnestly working and thinking!

He was immersed in his planning for months, and it was very real to him because he had a wonderful imagination and he believed in himself (that’s common for homeschooled kids). Each item on his costume (front and back) had a purpose, which he described in detail to anyone willing to listen.

He was beaming on Halloween, but not just because it was Halloween. He’d set a goal for himself and had achieved it. As I watched it all unfold, I realized what a learning experience this had been.

Not all kids will want to make a costume, but perhaps there is something else they want to make. It’s an opportunity for it to be all about the learning experience and feeling a personal pride. It may not win any awards for being the best, but in their heart (and yours) it will be. And, because our kids don’t go to school, there’s no one to make fun of their imagination.

It’s been years since my son made his first costume, and he continued to enthusiastically tackle other projects that were important to him throughout his childhood. This photo is one of my favorites because I remember his joy. And that’s priceless.


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.