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Getting ready - Bathing
Washing your hair  Like this activity  
15 - 30 mins activity Suitable for Birth - 5 years

Location Indoor, Outdoor

It’s time to wash your child’s hair. Where will you start? Will you brush out the tangles first or dive straight in and get their hair wet?

Talk with your child about what you are doing. Do you wash your child’s hair as part of their bath time routine or do you wash their hair over a basin?

Can you tip your head back so the water will run down your hair and into the bowl behind you?

As you wash your child’s hair talk about how long or how thick their hair is and where you will start to wash.

Your hair is very long and thick. I am going to start rubbing in the shampoo at the top of your head and work down the length of your hair.

Once your child’s hair is all clean, what do you do next?

Materials you will need

  • Bath
  • Towel
  • Shampoo
  • Hair
  • Shower

Alternative tools

  • Handbasin
  • Wash tub

Why does this matter?

Washing your child’s hair is an opportunity to learn and use the names of the different parts of their body. Once children know the names of their body parts, they are able to combine them with other information and instructions.

“Can you tip your head backwards so the water can trickle down your back?”

When you ask your child questions they are practising listening and responding to a question. Through this they are developing thinking and problem-solving skills.

What does this lead to?

As you wash your child’s hair they will hear you use instructions and words that include position, location and direction.

Developing language skills that includes listening and responding helps children to develop new words and language and to hear how sentences or questions are put together.

By listening then responding, your child hears how you talk and has the opportunity to try and respond using similar words and sentence structures. It is by practising with an adult - and hearing different styles of language - that children develop a rich expanded vocabulary. As a child’s language expands, the number of words they use in a sentence will also expand.

Language and Questions to use

  • Bath, towel, shampoo, conditioner, washcloth, flannel
  • Head, shoulder, nose, chin, hair, eyes, forehead, ears, hands, fingers
  • Trickle, splash, run, scoop, seep, ooze, pour, dribble, drip, scrub
  • Top, down, bottom
  • Long, short, medium
  • Thick, curly, frizzy, straight
  • Dark, blond, red, brown
  • Clean
  • Do we put the shampoo or the conditioner on first?
  • Where does the water go when it runs off your head?
  • How do we make bubbles on your head?
  • Do you use more shampoo if your hair is longer?
  • Why does all hair look straight when it is wet?

Useful Tips

  1. You might also like to take a look at the activities It's bath time and Routines.
  2. For safety information see Safety for children 0-4 years or visit www.parenting.sa.gov.au
  3. The blue book has useful information about language development.
  4. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Your child could help to wash the family dog.
  2. Set up a baby’s bath and get your child to wash their doll’s hair.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Set up a water trough with differently sized containers for pouring and scooping.
  • Add sponges of different thicknesses to the bath.
  • Ask your child to squeeze them as hard as they can to make their own soapy bubbles.
  • Borrow books from the library about hair.
  • Can you find books about different types of animal hair?
  • Go on a visit to the hairdresser.

Questions to ask

  • Do you start at the top when washing your hair?
  • Can you only wash your hair in the bath?

Language to use

  • Bath, towel, shampoo, conditioner, washcloth, flannel
  • Head, shoulder, nose, chin, hair, eyes, forehead, ears, hands, fingers
  • Trickle, splash, run, scoop, seep, ooze, pour, dribble, drip, scrub
  • Top, down, bottom
  • Long, short, medium
  • Thick, curly, frizzy, straight
  • Dark, blond, red, brown
  • Hairdresser

Three to five year olds

  • Set up a water trough with differently sized containers for pouring and scooping.
  • Add sponges of different thicknesses to the bath.
  • Ask your child to squeeze them as hard as they can to make their own soapy bubbles.
  • Borrow books from the library about hair.
  • Can you find books about different types of animal hair?
  • Go on a visit to the hairdresser.

Questions to ask

  • Do you start at the top when washing your hair?
  • Can you only wash your hair in the bath?

Language to use

  • Bath, towel, shampoo, conditioner, washcloth, flannel
  • Head, shoulder, nose, chin, hair, eyes, forehead, ears, hands, fingers
  • Trickle, splash, run, scoop, seep, ooze, pour, dribble, drip, scrub
  • Top, down, bottom
  • Long, short, medium
  • Thick, curly, frizzy, straight
  • Dark, blond, red, brown
  • Hairdresser

Washing your hair

Skills this activity improves

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