mrs. mcnosh hangs up her wash activity idea

October 28, 2009

Activity Idea: I have been thinking about this idea for a while. This book was just the motivation I needed to get me to actually do it. Juliet always gets a kick out of doing things that I do: fold laundry, make dinner, wash windows, etc... She loves participating in real-world tasks so much more than playing with whatever toys we have scattered around the house. So, my idea originally, was to hang up a clothes line and let her pin up some of her old baby clothes. I could just imagine her pinning up clothes and taking them down for hours...

I often read Montesorri blogs because I find their real-life activities to be so inspiring. I have gotten so many great ideas from sites like My Montesorri Journey, Itty Bitty Love, and Chasing Cheerios. And while I am not a Montesorri teacher in the least, nor a homeschooling parent, I do love learning and any time I can use a great idea with Juliet, I do. I noticed that there were several mini-clothesline activities on the sites I was reading, so I thought I would try it out with Juliet. Here's how it went down:

Inspired by the clothes in Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash, I cut out some mini-clothes from some scrapbooking paper I had in my craft closet. I attempted to trace the shapes, but then found it to be too time-consuming, so I free-handed it. There were a few odd pieces, but mostly, the clothing came out in a recognizable form. Here they are below in a basket.
I strung up a "clothesline" out of yarn between two tiny chairs. Next, I placed some mini-clothes pins into a small bowl.
This is what I envisioned the final product to be after Juliet had spent a nice, quiet, 20 minutes or so of hanging up her wash.
What I didn't expect was that the clothespins would be too difficult for her tiny fingers to open and close. (she is only 2 after all) And for the entire "game" to be extremely frustrating to her. In other words, it was a complete failure. She was SO excited when she saw the setup, but quickly became frustrated and angry with it all when she couldn't manipulate the clothespins. I had to pin all the clothes up and she looked at me sadly and said, "I can't do it, mama." So then I felt terrible for setting her up for failure like that.
Even though, the clothespins didn't really go as planned, my ever-resourceful two-year-old didn't let it stop her. She found a way to get some use out of her clothesline and instead of hanging out my mini-clothes to dry, she hung her beloved puppy because he "just had a bath and needs to dry." Which, if you have read the book, is totally in keeping with Mrs. McNosh's style, so I guess it was a successful activity after all. (Thanks to Juliet and NOT to me.)

After putting Juliet to bed that night, I quickly removed the clothesline, clothing, and pins. I put them away with the thought of getting them out in 6 months or so when her hands might be more developed and able to easily open and close the pins. I thought she would never miss it. But the next day, she came up to me and said, "Can I play with my Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash game?" I was stunned. So I quickly came up with plan B.

We went to the dollar store and I purchased a real clothesline and some wooden clothespins that have no hinges (the old-fashioned kind).

Then I placed some clothes that Juliet has grown out of already into a small basket and also added the clothespins.
I strung up the line and showed her how we could hang up her clothes and pin them with the new pins. It turned out to be much easier with the real clothes because we just draped them over the line and then pushed the clothespin onto the string. The clothespin was really just for show because the clothes were hanging perfectly fine without them.
This wasn't a perfect solution, however, because it turns out these pins are kind of difficult to push down too! But, they were much easier than the first kind and Juliet enjoyed it much more.
She hung up her wash and then had even more fun taking it all down. So after all that, I would still say that this is a good activity, but probably more so for older children. A good modification for younger kids is just to have the line without the clothespins. Just let them drape the clothes over the line and have fun taking it down again.


Annie said...

We have a clothesline outside and it is just too cold to do....but putting a small one up inside? Genius! And I love the idea of the old clothes pins...I am glad you solved that one for me - saves me time :)
I'm going to go check out this book now! THanks!

Zoe said...

This is such a great post! I too have been meaning to get a mini washing line set up for the kids for ages. Perhaps this will be the final push I need! Juliet hanging her puppy up reminded me of a lovely Tom and Pippo book I read some time ago:
We've since read several more Tom and Pippo books and all of them have been lovely - I'm sure you'd enjoy them!

Ana said...

Thar is such a cute idea!!! I love it! thank you for sharing the links... by the way I was wondering if you have heard to Tumble books? in case you haven't here's a link for some really lovely Online books Hope you enjoy them :)

Katy said...

This is such a great idea, and I love how you told us about how you worked on adapting it when it didn't work so well the first time around. :)

I'm loving your blog--you come up with some really fun activities to go with these books.

April said...

I love that your daughter still wanted to play with it even though it didn't go so well. She sounds persistent, determined and imaginative.

Annette said...

Don't feel that you set her up to fail. After all, she still enjoyed it, and you found a new way to do it. It still hurts though! Great post.

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes said...

I love it!!!

Gonna have to check this book out and try the activity with my kids.

Miss Kim said...

i am a Montessori preschool teacher. First of all things for putting up your ideas, and for the links to the Montessori sites. I have used the Mrs McNosh book with the following activity that the children 3-6 just love, and never get tired of. I have made the same items as in the story- turkey, 2 bats, dresses, mail etc, out of interfacing that I coloured. Then I drap a clothes line up. I give each child one of the items and start reading the story. When I get to their item they come up and pin it to the clothesline. I love this story.

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