We’re doing the laundry!

Each month offers activities families can do together in a variety of settings. The activities within the Learning is Everywhere Calendar and on the website are aligned with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards (ELS).

These guidelines can be used to determine what infants, toddlers, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten children may know or be able to do within specific age ranges. 

Print the book list! 10 Books about doing the laundry

  • Wanda’s Washing Machine by Anna McQuinn
  • Llamas in the Laundry by W. H. New
  • Stinky Clothes by Joanna Emery
  • Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
  • Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks
  • Henry Helps with Laundry by Beth Bracken
  • Dirty Laundry Pile by Paul B. Janeczko
  • The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble
  • Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning
  • Smelling Sunshine by Constance Anderson

Use the laundry as a time to expose your baby to new senses!  Have him feel the top or side of the washing machine for its vibrations, feel the wet clothes from the washer, or feel a warm blanket from the dryer (be careful of hot metal or plastic pieces, such as zippers or buttons). Explain to him what he is feeling and why the washing machine is vibrating, the clothes are wet, or the blanket is warm. (Scientific Thinking)

If there it is a front loading machine with a viewing window, show your baby how the clothes and the soap and water mix together. Does he see the swirl of colors or the suds from the soap?  What happens when the water drains and the clothes spin? (Scientific Thinking)

Have your toddler help separate by same and different (color, types of clothing, your clothes/her clothes, etc.) and then offer two receptacles of different sizes and tell her, “Put this in the big basket/little basket”, etc. Give her two pair to start, increasing the amount to meet her level. You can add a clothes pin to encourage fine motor skills. Ask her to match the pair then clip them together (spring and non-spring clothespins) If she has motor difficulties, have her act as the “foreperson”.  She can direct you where to put the items.  If she is unable to provide verbal directions, ask her, “Does it go in the big/little basket?” and encourage her respond with a head shake or nod for yes or no. (Mathematics Thinking & Expression)

Do you have clothes hanging on the line to dry?  Have your toddler hand you clothing or clothes pins from a basket.  Do you need one or two clothes pins to hang an item?  Do larger items, such as a bed sheet, need more or less clothes pins to hang?  Have your toddler guess how many clothes pins you will need.  (Mathematics Thinking & Expression)

Use washcloths, towels, cloth napkins and rags to help your toddler learn symmetry (equal sides) and develop fine motor skills.  Can he match one corner with another?  When he folds the item, does it get bigger or smaller?  Help him match the shape of the folded washcloth with another shape in the house (like a sandwich!).  (Mathematics Thinking & Expression)

Help your preschooler develop his language skills by using possessives (“Here is Daddy’s shirt”), possessive pronouns (“Here is my shirt, this is your shirt. Where is your shirt?”), and prepositions (“The sock is under the shirt!”). After stating this, ask him, “Who’s shirt is this?” “It’s Daddy’s shirt!” Feel free to sing these phrases as well. (Language & Literacy)

Doing the laundry is a great time to help with measuring and pouring (with supervision). Have your preschooler help measure the laundry detergent. Show him the line on the cap or the cup, help him pour or scoop the detergent. Then carefully pour it into the washing machine. (Mathematics Thinking & Expression)

What goes into a washing machine?  Play a game with your kindergartner to find out what is good for a washing machine.  Start with items like socks. Then name other items, like the car.  Why would or wouldn’t the item be good for the washing machine?  What other ways could it be cleaned?  (Car wash for the car, bath tub for the dog, dishwasher or sink for the dishes, etc.) (Approaches to learning through Play)

OOPS!  A favorite clothing has a hole!  Ask your child what you should do.  What can you do besides throw it away?  Your favorite piece of clothing no longer fits. Is there a way to keep it?  Can you make something from it?  (Creative Thinking & Expression)

Ask your kindergartner why we wash our clothes. Where does the water come from that fills the washer? Does she know why laundry detergent is needed? Help her read the simple words on appliance, like ON and OFF. Help strengthen his sense hearing and touch.  With your child, listen to the washer agitate the clothes and spin the water out of the drum. Ask him to mimic those sounds. Feel the water as it fills the washing machine. Ask him, “Is it warm or cold?” When the clothes are clean, transfer them to the dryer together. Ask him how the clothes feel. Once in the dryer, listen together as the dryer tumbles the clothes, and ask him to describe that sound. Listen for the buzzer to signal the completion of the cycle. Remove the clothes from the dryer with his assistance. Ask how the clothes feel, how they smell, and what temperature they are now. (Scientific Thinking)

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