Pretend Play meets Water Play. Washing up for kids!

Apr 4, 2012

Children love to replicate the behaviours of adults, especially if it involves water!

Here, with this fun pretend play activity, I got 3 things accomplished. 
1) I kept her entertained, 2) She was learning AND 3) the dirty toys and doll's clothes got clean! haha

Ages: 2+
(M was just 3 here. See the Handy Tips at the bottom to simplify or extend to meet your child's needs)

kids activities, water play, pretend play, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, learning process and order
 The setup: An Invitation to Play. using a couple of towels on the floor I set up a washing station (bowl of soapy water for washing and bowl of clear water for rinsing) and a child-sized clothes line with pegs. We then collected toys from around the house that needed a wash

 Learning about order and process. First we wash and scrub in soapy water. Lots of fun pouring, swirling, scrubbing etc here

 Second we rinse all the soap off in clear, clean water

 We don't need to scrub the material the same way we would with plastic toys. Notice how the material absorbs the water

 Understanding order and process gets easier the more we practice

Wringing out the clothes to remove the excess water. This is trickier than it seems for little kids... especially ensuring all the material is OUT of the water before squeezing and that it doesn't go back in!

Pegging up the clothes to dry. This requires good fine motor skills and is fabulous for practicing coordination

 Swishing it round and round in the water... just like a washing machine does!

 Coordination required here! There was a lot of dropping the peg while trying to adjust the clothing to be hung. I was happy to see her demonstrating patience and keep trying

Whilst doing this activity she role-played being "mummy" and commentated her every move. 
Fabulous language practice!

Handy Tips:

- Talk with your child about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "process", "wringing out" etc. This will help with their language development.

- Simplify this activity for young toddlers who might not have the fine motor skills and coordination required to peg up clothes by just giving them some plastic toys or plastic plates etc, to wash

- Extend this activity by assigning your child a pretend role (mummy, daddy, Mr Washer etc) and allow them to get into character. This can add to the imaginative aspect of the activity and often promotes language development as they commentate their actions.

- We had to change the rinsing water at one point because it got too soapy.

- Demonstrate how or where to hold the clothing in order to peg it up if your child needs the assistance

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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  1. love it! My kids have always helped with hanging up the washing (I have a few lower clothes-horses they can reach with ease), but definitely I'll now get them to wash up their dolls' clothes and crockery too!

    1. Thanks Sara. I was actually about to give her tea set a wash as it was looking a bit grubby and then thought... wait! she can do it! lol
      Bet your kids will enjoy it. Debs :)

  2. We love doing this. It is a favorite activity for summertime on the deck. We usually bring the dolls out for a bath as well.

    1. Yes, we'll definitely need to do a doll wash next time. Thank you :)

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