The spring weather has finally put in an appearance, and for most children this will mean spending more time outside. But it’s easy to forget that some everyday fine weather occurrences – such as drying the washing outside – will be completely new to many of the young children you work with, as their memories will not stretch back to our last warm spell. Doing the laundry is an ideal example of a real, every day activity that can promote many different early learning goals (elgs) across the EYFS.
So why not give children the opportunity to hand wash your collection of dolls’ clothes (this can be a small group activity if done in the water tray), or involve children in the process of putting soft toys in the washing machine? (Adults should handle the laundry detergents. It’s a good idea to use well diluted washing up liquid as the cleaning agent when hand washing with young children).
For example, when collecting the dirty laundry together, there can be a discussion about why we need to wash our clothes – this promotes the elg Health and self-care. Machine washing promotes an understanding of technology (elg: technology), while hand washing provides an opportunity for soapy water fun as well as experiencing and making observations about wet laundry, e.g. it’s heavier than dry laundry and the colour of some fabrics may appear darker when wet (elgs: The world, Exploring and using media and materials).
Wringing out and hanging washing on a suitably low line requires the use of large and fine motor skills (elg: Moving and handling), and if you introduce an assortment of clothes pegs, children can also notice different colours, shapes, sizes and materials (elgs: Numbers, and Shape, space and measures).
The way laundry behaves on the line opens a whole new area of observation and discussion – is it a breezy day? Is the wind making the clothes blow, or are they fairly still? Is there any sun? Are different fabrics drying at different speeds, e.g. is a cotton dress drying faster than a pair of jeans? (elg: The world). Don’t forget that babies often enjoy watching the clothes blowing on the line too!
There’s further scope for learning and development as the washing is picked in and folded into the laundry basket (elg: Moving and handling), and eventually sorted, matched and put away in the right place.
For a step-by-step guide to a Sorting and matching laundry activity (elg: Number), check out our new factsheet on Planet Vocational. The activity is an excerpt from my new book A Practical Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage. You’ll find many more activities to promote all areas of learning and development for children throughout the EYFS age range in the book itself.
If you haven’t yet registered for free access to Planet Vocational, do sign up – you’ll be able to access factsheets and other handy resources over the coming months, which compliment the content of the book.
Happy laundry day!