Learning and Laundry!!

calendarMay 6 2020

Yes!! Filling the washing machine can be a learning opportunity!! Here’s how……….

Lockdown pressures

In these days of lock down we are trying to juggle being a parent, housework, our day job and teaching our Special Needs kids at home!

But there are lessons all around the house!

Remember, you cannot turn your home into a replica of the classroom. Trying to do so will just make you feel like a failure. Instead of creating a formal learning environment and getting frustrated because your child is getting distracted, you can teach through everyday activities. Finding the learning in simple tasks, hides the teaching from kids who are resistant to ‘lessons’. It can show you that you ARE doing your job as a parent well AND gets your household jobs done at the same time!

Learning and Laundry!

Believe it or not, you can use washing clothes to teach Maths, English, Science, PSHE and more !! Kids won’t even notice they are learning and they will be helping you too!

Image of an open washing machine with a basket of washing in front of it.
Doing the laundry can be a learning opportunity AND a help!

Washing and drying clothes, let’s make it a learning experience !!

The ideas below should give you some thoughts on how to teach your child Maths, English, Science, PSHE and whilst learning some vital life skills, in this case washing clothes!

You wash and dry clothes all the time (if you are like the team we do at least a load a day!!!). So let’s not make a it chore, let’s get LEARNING!

An image of two piles of washing sorted into whites and dark colours.
Sorting washing into colours is a great learning opportunity!

Before you start

For this task you need dirty clothes.

Just do a little at a time

Don’t forget, when we are teaching our special needs kids at home, we just try one idea at a time. Trying to turn everything into a lesson all at once will just stress you out and your child will protest! Once you get started, it will become natural and you will start to see opportunities for learning in everything you do!

Learning and Laundry

ActivityArea Learning ideas

Preparing for washingMaths – sorting and adding

Health and safety

Team work

Literacy – adjectives and descriptive language

Maths – money

Sort the cloths out according to colour:
Make a pile of clothes for washing.
– White wash: show the colour white and ask your child to look for all the white clothes in the pile.
-Colour wash: show the colours you want washed and ask your child to look for the right clothes in the pile.
How many clothes do you have in each pile? How many clothes did you start with in the big pile?
How many clothes are in each colour pile?

Checking pockets. Having things in pockets can break a washing machine and ruin your washing, so checking pockets is important. Explain this to your child. Ask them to help you check the pockets. You could agree that if they find any money they can keep it!
Additional activity:
– Describe what they have found by size, colour, shape and material.

-Describe the dirty laundry (wrinkled, smelly, muddy)
-Make up a fun story that might have led to an item of clothing getting dirty

– Identifying coins – what coins have they found? How much does it add up to?

Weighing – you could put all the dirty washing on scales and weigh it while it is dry and then again when it is wet.
Carrying the washing basketHealth and Safety

Show your child the correct way to carry the washing basket.

Count the number of steps to the washing machine.
Loading and setting the machineHealth and safety


Maths time

Ask your child to load the machine and show them the correct setting for the wash.

You can tell them how and why to be safe around the machine.

Set a timer to time the wash and when the washing has finished ask them how long the washing machine has been on for.

While the machine is workingLiteracy AdjectivesWhile the machine is washing, ask your child to observe the different spin speeds. Introduce the words slow, fast and faster. You can talk about clockwise and anticlockwise.

Ask your child for words to describe the sounds the machine makes as it works.
When the washing has finishedCountingCount the clean washing out into the basket. Have you got the same number of socks?

We hope this gives you a few ideas. We will be doing hanging out the washing next! If you need any help you please post in our Education Forum here.

Please leave a comment below! Tell us how you got on or what ideas you have for teaching Special Needs kids at home!

About Us

Emma Bara has taught about environmental topics and science for years, running whole school education projects, teacher training, science clubs for primary school kids and GCSE Science tutoring. David Bara has years of experience as a SEN teacher and Senior Lecturer of Special Educational Needs. They are the Co-Founders of

Image of David and Emma Bara
David and Emma Bara

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