Practical life aspects of Montessori education have been a favorite for my girls during the toddler and young pre-school aged days. Corner by corner, our house has become a place where they have their own spaces next to mine – doing the same kinds of things. It’s a way to keep young children busy, feeling purposeful and close to mom.
The laundry is no exception. I still remember the day when our first child was two-years-old and started folding all the hand towels at home, in the laundry room. She was obviously learning that at school! My husband and I joked about what kind of sweat shop they were running at that Montessori school we were paying for. Children love purposeful work. No mater what the gender is. I’ve seen the boys at school enjoying the same things.
Since we take these principles we learn through having children at a Montessori school and implement them in our home – I’m sharing our DIY children’s laundry set up that lives in our basement, next to the real laundry space.
My toddler is increasingly becoming more interested in these types of activities at home lately. Therefore on Sunday I stopped what I was doing long enough to enjoy some one-on-one time with her and do some laundry – children’s style, round three. And just as I expected, she loved doing it as much as her two sisters did at this age.
Our set up is a complete DIY approach, borrowing more expensive ideas from classroom materials found in the Montessori Services catalogue and For Small Hands (which are both owned by the same company). The area also gets used, from time to time, by the older girls to wash their dolls’ clothes – which is super sweet.
Here’s a list of our materials
- A wash basin and small wash board that came from a local Ace Hardware store. I’ve seen both in Montessori catalogues and in the Nova Natural catalog. Ours work wonderfully. And that basin gets used for SO MANY other things, indoors and outside.
- Homemade baby laundry soap that was made by the Open Heart Doulas. I won it in a basket of baby goodness, at a fundraiser for the birth center where I am on the board of directors. The wooden scooper was leftover from a bath salt gift I received several moons ago.
- A clothesline I made using heavy gauge wire, wrapped around two support poles in the basement of my 90 year-old house.
- Wooden clothes pins. I have bought a pack of the mini size ones before from Montessori Services but they quickly broke. I think they were actually harder to use than the big ones because the two sides slid apart so easily where the metal was supped to be holding it together. But for $3, they were still fun.
- Small children’s laundry basket that is from Montessori Services. It was well worth the cost and is nicely made. We have had ours for several years and it has held up great. On the flip side we have a similar one from Goodwill that works fine too.
- A small wooden ironing board set that was mine with I was a child.
- An additional wooden hanging rack that is actually a blanket holder, found at Goodwill.
Here’s how we went about doing laundry, with a two-year-old.
- I let her scoop the soap into the basin, carry it to the sink, stand on a chair and fill it with water.
- She picked her favorite dresses from her pile of dirty clothes to be washed, put them in her laundry basket, and started washing. It’s nice to do this in a space that you don’t mind getting wet. Having towels handy for children to help wipe up water is a must.
- I helped her ring out the water from the dresses and gave them each back to her to hang on the clothesline. In an official classroom set up the wash station would look like this, with a bin for rinsing. But for now, at home, we skipped that step.
- She went through two rounds of washing. And then moved on to ironing.
The next day she asked to wear her favorite purple dress that she washed. She very proud of herself! She also made sure sister knew that SHE was the one who ironed her skirt.