- measuring cup
- washing machine and clothes dryer
What You Do Together.
1 Talk about sorting the laundry and ask your child why it's such an important task. (Everybody's underwear can turn pink; Dad's sweater can get so little only the puppy will be able to wear it). Ask your child to separate the laundry into two piles. When children sort objects, they need to look for similarities and differences. This process helps sharpen their observational skills. If something hasn't been sorted properly, explain why the item needs to be placed in the other pile, but also encourage her to explain her thinking. Children often think of ways to sort that adults don't.
2 Once the laundry has been sorted, invite your child to help load the machine. Ask, "What do you think we need to make sure the laundry gets clean?" Look at the laundry detergent and read the measuring instructions together. Let your child help you measure and pour.
If you are using coin-operated machines, use the experience to talk about the concept of money. Look at the machine together to find out how much it costs to wash and dry the laundry. Encourage your child to count the coins with you and put them in the machines.
3 Include your child in the process of selecting the settings for both the washing machine and the clothes dryer. Read the words together and discuss the meanings and uses of the various settings. Talk about what happens inside the machine: water filling, washing, rinsing. Ask your child to think about what happens to the detergent when the water goes into the machine, how the laundry gets clean, and where the water goes when the machine has stopped.
4 Using the clothes dryer introduces children to important science concepts, such as observing changes, making predictions, and learning about heat. Ask your child to predict what will happen to the wet laundry when the clothes dryer is turned on. If the washing machine uses water to clean the laundry, what will the clothes dryer use to dry the laundry? Let your child assist again in choosing the appropriate settings for the dryer. You may also want to discuss why the dryer has a timer and how the heat affects different types of materials.
5 Children love to fold and sort the clean laundry. Once again they can practice sorting and classifying as they match socks, organize family members' articles of clothing, distinguish size, color, and shape, and stimulate their sense of smell with the pleasant scent of clean laundry. Don't forget to give a big hug and a thank-you for the wonderful help your child has provided in assisting with a very important household chore.
This activity originally appeared in the March, 1999 issue of Early Childhood Today.