Encourage Laundry Skills in a Dramatic Play Center for Preschool
Dramatic Play Center Setup
It is necessary to properly set up the dramatic play center for activities that teach laundry skills. To simulate a laundry room, purchase or create a pretend washing machine and dryer. Provide a hamper for "dirty" clothes, and small laundry basket for carrying the clothes, which could include doll clothes and/or children's clothes. Have a storage unit with drawers, either as a small dresser, nightstand, or plastic unit. Clean out real containers of laundry detergent and fabric softener. Set up a small drying rack or clothesline, with a variety of sizes and types of clothespins. Get a small, free-standing ironing board, or a tabletop ironing board, with a small cordless iron. Some may also like to experiment with an old-fashioned washing board. Some children may want to use pretend quarters to "put money into the machine," as they do at the laundromat.
Prior to doing their laundry in the dramatic play center, preschool children can sort "dirty" clothes that are in the laundry hamper. Children can then put the clothing into a washing machine, and measure the detergent. Some may wish to pretend to wash clothes on an old-fashioned washing board in a basin. Then, they can be hung on the clothesline or put into the dryer.
When clothes are "dry" they can be taken to the ironing board to be ironed, then folded and put away in the dresser.
Classrooms that are properly equipped with water sources could even allow the children to use real water and soap when washing and wringing clothes.
Some may wish to expand on the laundry skills activities in the preschool dramatic play center. Provide a small child-sized suitcase for them to pack after washing laundry, as if they are getting ready for vacation, or just returning from vacation. Include other items they may wish to take on vacation. Put out different sized suitcases so they can strategize how to pack accordingly.
Set up different areas for different clothes to be stored. Children may have to sort adult clothes, children's clothes, and doll clothes by storage area or drawer, as if they are delivering the laundry to different bedrooms.
Put out dolls for the children to dress and undress with the clothes. Have enough child-sized, or slightly larger, clothes available for the children to dress themselves. When finished wearing the clothes, or dressing the babies, they can "wash" the clothes before putting them away. This kind of play will also teach them beneficial life skills, as in snapping, buttoning, zipping, etc.
The Parental Connection
Encourage parents to set up similar activities in the home. The children can help sort the family laundry, put the clothes in the washer and dryer, and pour in the laundry detergent. They can help hang wet clothing on lower clotheslines or drying racks. They can also help deliver clean clothes to family bedrooms.
Families can also provide doll clothes for baby dolls, and extra clothes for playing dress-up in the home. Let children pretend to pack their own small suitcases for trips, and actually assist when going on a real trip.