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Getting ready - Health and Hygiene
Sorting the washing ready to wash  Like this activity  
15 - 30 mins activity Suitable for Birth - 5 years

Location Laundry

Often when you go to do the washing you will have a large basket of dirty clothing, towels, or sheets that need to be sorted before they can be put in the washing machine. Your child can help you to sort and group the items ready to wash. Talk to your child about the different ways that you can sort the washing, such as by colour, by material, and by function. Once you have identified how you will sort the clothing ask your child to find certain things, such as all the socks or all the green clothes.

Should we put the sheets in a different load to the towels? What are the instructions on the clothing label?

Following the instructions will help you identify how to wash each item.

You can talk about it as you go.

Which cycle will we wash the sheets on? What temperature do we wash the towels at? Can we fit any more in or will we have to do another load?

Materials you will need

  • Dirty washing
  • Laundry basket
  • Washing machine

Alternative tools

  • Handwashing basin

Why does this matter?

Sorting the washing helps children to understand that there are different ways that we can measure things, such as by temperature or time. Sorting helps children to notice the different attributes of an object and that we use these attributes to describe them.

What does this lead to?

Sorting and classifying by different attributes helps children to make decisions about how to use resources and choose which technique or process will work best. Talking about temperature and time helps children to understand that we are able to measure things using different resources and tools.

Language and Questions to use

  • Colour, light, dark, white
  • Long cycle, short cycle
  • Wool, cotton, silk, linen, nylon, acrylic
  • Time, length of cycle, minutes, hour
  • Start, finish
  • Do we have enough clothes to do a full wash cycle?
  • Is the washing machine full?
  • Could we fit any more clothing in the washing machine?
  • Which pile of clothing is bigger?
  • How should we sort the clothes?

Useful Tips

  1. Younger children need shorter instructions.
  2. Show your child the labels on clothing and point out the instructions, such as.wash in cold water.
  3. For information about safety see Safety for children 0-4 or visit www.parenting.sa.gov.au
  4. Remember it is important to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Read stories about washing clothing.
  2. Set up a play clothes line for your child to wash and peg up their dolls’ clothing.
  3. Create sorting baskets.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Read stories about washing clothing.
  • Set up a play clothes line for your child to wash and peg up their dolls’ clothing.
  • Create sorting baskets.

Questions to ask

  • Which is bigger?
  • Which is smaller?
  • Will it take a long time?
  • Has the washing machine finished?

Three to five year olds

  • Read stories about washing clothing.
  • Set up a play clothes line for your child to wash and peg up their dolls’ clothing.
  • Create sorting baskets.
  • Sort paint swatches, talking about the different colours and shades.
  • Set up powder and pallet painting experiences, using the paint swatches to provide inspiration. How many shades of yellow can you make?

Questions to ask

  • Do we have enough clothes to do a full wash cycle?
  • Is the washing machine full?
  • Could we fit any more clothing in?
  • Which pile of clothing is bigger?
  • How should we sort the clothes?

Sorting the washing ready to wash

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