Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Costumes to Doll Up Your Social Studies and Literature Lessons

Keeping students interested in social studies and literature can be a real challenge to teachers. How do you then spice up your lessons to hold the attention of your MTV generation students?

According to research, students retain most of what they perceive with their senses. In other words, they learn more of what they see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. The use of the senses for teaching is easy to do when you’re teaching any of the sciences. But how do you do the same with social studies and literature? Using drama, skit, or role-playing can do the trick. Aside from having high entertainment value, these are effective ways of involving most, if not all, the senses of the students, thereby increasing learning and actively involving them in the learning process.

Dramas, skits, or role-playing will be more interesting if the students use costumes that they have made themselves. Costumes are important elements in creating the ambience, the feel, and the look of the play. If used appropriately, they can be effective visual aids for lessons about historical events or people, geography, citizenship, sociology, anthropology, and literature. Costume-making can also enrich your students’ creativity, encourage resourcefulness, and foster cooperation in group works. Here are general tips you can give your students in making their own costumes.

Improvise. Use existing materials to substitute for materials that need to be bought. For example, to make a king’s cape, use a red or royal blue blanket or one that has an ornate design.
Share materials. The class can pool in their resources to buy materials that everyone may use. You may ask students to either contribute money or assign each student to bring a particular material. Materials such as glue, scissors, adhesives, staplers, punchers, colored pens, thread, tape measure, and markers may be shared.
Create patterns. You may ask the class to make patterns to facilitate the reproduction of costumes. Patterns allow several people to make the exact same costume at the same time.
Recycle old costumes. If the workmanship is good, the costumes may be used several times for other projects. For instance, Filipiniana costumes may also be exhibited during the celebration of Linggo ng Wika.
Here is a sample costume you may teach your students to make. You may modify the process according to the kind of costume you want your students to do.

Female Igorot Costume
red, long-sleeved, tight-fitting shirt
red skirt (not pleated, preferably pencil-cut)
needle and thread
bottle caps (tansan) or big buttons of different colors
poster paint
crepe paper (red, blue, black, yellow, green)


For the shirt sash
1. Cut one 2-inch-wide strip of each color of crepe paper in varying length (red, 12 inches long; blue, 10 inches long; black, 9 inches long; yellow and green, 8 inches long).
2. Connect each strip from end to end to form several pieces of sash.
3. Loosely stitch the sash around the shoulder area of the shirt.
For the skirt
1. Cut inch-wide segments of red, blue, black, yellow, and green crepe paper.
2. Spread out the cut-out segments and weave all the colors.
3. Attach the woven mat around the skirt.
For the accessories
1. If you do not have buttons, use bottle caps instead. Color them with poster paint.
2. Thread bottle caps or buttons together to create the Ifugao necklace.
3. Use the same procedure to create bracelets, hair bun accessories, anklets, and waistbands.
Waist sash
1. Cut a 5-inch-wide and 48-inch-long (or shorter depending on the length of the skirt) strip of crepe paper.
2. Fold it crosswise.
3. Paste colored bottle caps or buttons on one side of the folded sash.
4. Insert the undecorated end into the waistband.
You may vary the pattern of the sash and how it is worn to form costumes of other ethnic tribes. Your students may wear these costumes in stage performances of Biag ni Lam-Ang, Hudhud ni Aliguyon, or other ethnic stories. The costumes may also be part of an exhibit of ethnic costumes for Araling Panlipunan.

Male Greek Costume (Chiton)
a huge blanket (length will depend on the height of the person who will wear it)
safety pins or brooches
a long piece of ribbon (length will depend on waistline)


1. Fold the blanket in half. The width should cover the wearer from fingertip to fingertip .
2. Sew along the side seam. Join the top edge at intervals with safetypins or brooches, or by sewing. Don’t forget to leave holes for the head and arms to go through. Slip it on over the head.
3. Tie a belt round the waist and pull up the extra material so that it hangs over the belt.

This costume may be used in discussing Greek or Roman mythology through dramatization.
Filipina Ethnic Barbie. (accessed 05 May 2005)
Greek Dress. (accessed 06 May 2005)

Note: This article was co-written with Rita Mirano.

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