Learning With Dishes

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Ah, my least favorite chore.  But that’s why we had kids, right?  To do all the chores we hate.  No?  Well, at least get them to help out a little.  I say as soon as kids can stand up, they can help with the dishes.  Toddlers can hand you forks out of the dishwasher (and in fact they love doing it!) and preschoolers can sort silverware.  Elementary age kids are capable of rinsing and loading the dishwasher on their own.  Here’s a tip I learned from other moms: store kid dishes in low cabinets or drawers.  Then it is easy for kids to unload dishes and also get plates/silverware for setting the table.

Doing the dishes is a life skill, so the earlier the better!  Plus any family chore teaches them about responsibility, which in turn builds their self-esteem.  Letting kids handle age-appropriate tasks and praising them for success will increase their confidence.  Finally, getting everyone involved in the after dinner clean-up creates a sense of teamwork and “we’re all in this together” attitude that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  All that from doing the dishes?  Yeah.  Or at least that’s how I’m selling it to my kids.

Choose one or two of these ideas the next time you want to force your kids to do your chores teach your kids while doing the dishes.  Okay, the job might take a little longer…but it will be more fun!

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Use a step stool so they are able to stand in front of the sink.  Let them explore the different textures of water, soap, brushes and sponges.
  • Build motor skills by scrubbing plates.
  • Increase vocabulary by naming the objects you wash.  Use lots of adjectives like the big, red, round plate.
  • Rinse cups by filling them up with water and dumping it into a larger container.  Talk about capacity.  How many little cups of water will it take to fill up the big bowl?  Estimate and check.
  • Try to guess objects in a bubbly sink by touch instead of sight.  Um, don’t play this with knives. 🙂
  • Count objects as they are washed.  You can start counting and see if they can pick up where you left off.  (kindergarten- Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1)
  • Compare the number of objects you are washing.  Do we have more plates or cups to wash?   (kindergarten- Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies)

Elementary

  • Play “I’m thinking of something in the kitchen.”  Once you have something in mind, the other player asks you yes or no questions to identify it.
  • Be silly and make up a story involving the dishes.  What would happen if the dish ran away spoon?  Who would come to its rescue?
  • Ask math problems related to the dishes.  We put away seven spoons and nine forks.  How many utensils is that in all?  (first grade and second grade- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Try more difficult problems on older kids.  If there are five people in our family and each meal we use a fork and a spoon.  How many forks and spoons will we need to wash at the end of the day?  (third grade- Represent and solve problems using addition and subtraction)
  • Time the task.  Ask your kiddo to tell the time before you start unloading the dishwasher and then again when you are finished.  How long did it take?  (second grade- Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes)
  • Use the opportunity just to talk about their day or school.
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Learning in the Car

Driving in the car is a chore we do every day.  It’s a great time to interact with your kiddo since they are a captive audience. 🙂  Of course, there is a lot to be said for a few minutes of silence.  But if you get bored of the quiet (or it is not quiet at all because the natives are getting restless), here are a few ideas…

Babies

  • Talk out loud about….anything!  Provide a running commentary about what is out the window, what streets you are on, where you are going, or what you’d like to eat for lunch.
  • Sing familiar songs: Mary Had a Little Lamb, ABCs, etc.
  • Talk out loud about….anything!  Provide a running commentary about what is out the window, what streets you are on, where you are going, or what you’d like to eat for lunch.
  • Call attention to when the car stops and when it moves.  Talk about red and green lights.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Talk about….anything!  Ask them questions about their day or where you are going.  Try to ask them questions that will start a conversation and not just a “no” or “yes.”
  • Sing familiar songs, but change some words and see if they notice.  Mary Had a Little Lion.  Kids think this is hilarious!
  • Talk about driving rules and signs.  What does a yellow light mean?  Why are their lines on the road?  What does a red sign mean?
  • Play “I Spy a Color.”  See if they can find something red out the window or in the car.  Once they find something, change the color.
  • Play “I’m Thinking of an Animal.”  Traditionally you ask yes or no questions to figure out the animal.  (Does the animal live on a farm?  Does the animal fly?)  For this age, giving those clues first and then allowing guessing works best. (I’m thinking of an animal that has wings and lives on a farm.  Can you guess what it is?)
  • Ask some simple addition and subtraction math problems related to driving.  (There are 3 people in the car now.  After we pick up brother from school, how many will be in the car then?)
  • Count something together for the length of the (short) trip: the number of trucks you see, how many times you have to stop at a red light, the number of bicyclists on the road
  • Come up with as many rhymes as you can for a given word.  Teach them how to go through the alphabet and rhyme: at, bat, cat, dat (no, that’s not a word)

Elementary

  • Talk about…anything!  Driving is a great time to catch up and ask them about school, friends, sports, or hobbies.
  • Talk about driving.  Why are steering wheels on the left side of the car?  What does “miles per hour” mean?  Why are speed limits important?
  • Ask “If you could be a _____________ what would you be and why?”  Fill in the blank with animal, item in your classroom, food, plant, etc.  Make sure you play, too!
  • Create an addition and subtraction game related to driving.  Let the kids come up with rules.  Maybe for every truck you get 2 points for every green light you pass and subtract a point for every red light.  This is great mental math practice!  You can always make the game easier or more difficult by changing the objects or point values.
  • Play “I’m Thinking of an Animal” the traditional way by asking yes or no questions to figure out the animal.  Vary the game by playing “I’m Thinking of a Sport” or “I’m Thinking of a Number between 1 and 100” or “I’m Thinking of a Book.”
  • Play “I Spy something that starts with the letter _____”
  • Practice spelling words by taking turns saying the letters.
  • Take turns thinking of as many things that starts with a certain letter.
  • Choose a category of things (for example: food).  Name something in that category (pizza).  Then the next person has to name something that starts with the last letter of the item (a- apple…and then e- enchilada)

Learning with Laundry

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Sorting laundry is a boring task, but it is also be a great time to talk and catch up with your kids.  It can also provide valuable learning  experiences that don’t require anything but you, your kids, and some clean clothes.  Okay, you need a ruler for the last one.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Babies

* Learn about textures by letting her touch different materials.  Use adjectives like smooth, bumpy, soft, and fuzzy.

* Learn object permanence by playing peek-a-boo and hiding things under towels.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

* Sort clothing into piles according to color, type (socks, pants, shirts), or by person to which they belong.  (Kindergarten- Classify object and count the number of objects in each category)

* Compare Mama’s socks to kid socks or Dada’s pants to kid pants.  Talk about opposite words like big and small, large and tiny.

* Count the number of one type of clothing   (Kindergarten- Count to tell the number of objects)

* Make two groups of socks and ask if the amount of socks is greater than, lesser than, or equal to the other group.  (Kindergarten- Compare numbers)

Elementary Kids

* Use laundry to represent addition and subtraction problems.  Ask your child to solve problems like, “There are 4 Daddy shirts and 2 Mommy shirts.  How many shirts were in the laundry?”  You can also have the student model a given problem (ex.- Show me 4+2 using socks.)  (Grades 1 and 2- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)

* Represent multiplication and division problems.  This works very well with socks that already come in pairs (if your dryer didn’t eat any.)  Explain that there are two socks in each group and five groups of socks, so that is 2×5.  A good model for division is dividing the laundry by owner.  It works best if you arrange for equal groups beforehand.  For example, “There are 10 shirts.  Let’s divide them into two groups- your shirts and my shirts.  How many are in each group?  So 10 divided into 2 groups makes 5 in each group.” (Grade 3- Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division)

* Practice fractions with parts of a group.  What fraction of the laundry are pants?  What fraction of the socks are white?  (Grade 3- Develop understanding of fractions as numbers)

* Estimate the length of clothing and then measure.  You’ll need a ruler or yard stick for this one. (Grade 2- Measure and estimate lengths in standard units)