Ideas for Playing Barbie Dolls


Barbie, the popular doll manufactured by Mattel, provides an opportunity for hours of creative play. The dolls are suitable for children ages 3 and up, and dolls sold under the Barbie brand include not only adult dolls of both genders and various ethnicities and professions, but child and teenage family members and friends.

Career Games

  • With jobs ranging from fashion model to astronaut, Barbie provides girls with a positive example of a wide range of careers. Children love playing out the small details of an adult's day, whether it is clocking in at a store or helping patients at a clinic. Though Mattel provides accessories for various careers, imagination and crafting ability is the only actual limit on what a Barbie doll may do.

Creative Construction and Crafts

  • While clothing and accessories are provided by Mattel and other toy companies, including a wardrobe, houses, cars and pets, Barbie provides a child the opportunity to learn simple sewing and supervised carpentry skills. Designing a wardrobe out of fabric scraps or constructing a homemade doll house teach valuable skills, including creativity, measuring, simple sewing and even an introduction to architectural construction and the properties of different building materials.

Modeling Healthy Relationships

  • With a wide range of friend dolls, such as Midge, Theresa and Christie, an enormous family that includes four younger sisters, plus her long-standing boyfriend, Ken, and the other male dolls, Barbie provides an outlet to model healthy friendships, romantic relationships and of course, family relationships. How the dolls interact provides a powerful teaching tool for empathy, social problem solving and forming healthy relationships. One of Barbie's friends, Midge, includes a pregnancy model that demonstrates infant care and childbearing, while wheelchair-bound Becky provides an example of a friend with a mobility-based disability.

Fictional Adventures

  • Whether copying stories from a favorite book or acting out characters from the child's imagination, Barbie lets children tell narratives and explore the full range of the possible and the impossible. With Barbie, a boulder in the back yard becomes a giant mountain for the doll to scale, and a bed spread can be a wide prairie to cross. Even a well-used Barbie doll with frizzy hair and only a few pieces of clothing can transport the child back in time or into the future, becoming a Renaissance princess, an early American settler in a wagon or a scientist discovering new alien lifeforms on a strange planet.


  • Photo Credit Alex Grimm/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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