Learning Language through Natural Routines: Laundry

This article is the first in a series I’ll be featuring about teaching language to children through everyday activities. Children learn language best in context, and they learn through repetition. Within each activity, there are numerous opportunities for repetition, and everyday routines are, by their nature, repeated often. Plus, you have to get the laundry done anyway, most likely with your child hanging around. Why not make it a learning experience?

Toddler helping with laundry

Pre-linguistic/Play Skills – Your child will match colors.

Give your child socks that need to be matched up by color. Demonstrate finding two socks of the same color and putting them together. Then, hand your child another sock and ask him/her to find the match. If your child has trouble finding one that’s the same, model holding the first sock next to each one that’s left until you find one that is the same color.

Receptive Language – Your child will understand the prepositions in and out of.

As you take clothing items out of the washing machine, hand them to your child to put in the dryer. As you do this, explain what you both are doing. Emphasize the prepositions. (“I took the shirt out of the washer. You’re putting the shirt in the dryer.”) When the clothes are dry, you can give your child simple commands like “Take the clothes out of the dryer,” or “Put the clothes in the basket.”

Expressive Language – Your child will name one color.

When sorting or folding your child’s laundry, pick one color to be the focus of the day. Each time you come across something that is the target color, say the name of the color. Do not label the other colors. For example, if you’re focusing on blue, name blue each time you pick up something blue, but don’t name any other colors. When you come across a piece of clothing that isn’t the color of the day, just say, “Not ____.” After modeling this several times, hold up an item of the color of the day and ask “What color?” If your child doesn’t answer correctly, model the correct word for him/her to repeat.

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