Think Like a Teacher: Integrating Learning into Everyday Routines
This blog series aims to highlight how you can simply and easily enhance your child’s learning and development through everyday routines. In our previous post, we explored the developmental growth that occurred when a child gets dressed. Today we will focus on opportunities for learning extensions and fun activities that center around clothing and weather.
Weather Learning Extensions
Since clothes are so closely tied to weather, we recommend giving your child time to explore and learn more about their environment. One easy way to do this is to have your child provide a weather report! Ask your child to look outside or even feel the window to describe the weather conditions. A simple brush can act as a microphone and voila, you have a future meteorologist on your hands.
Feeling adventurous? Choose a weekend, mix in some dress-up options, and film the report. Sharing a weather video is a great way to stay connected with family and also provide your child with a sense of accomplishement!
Some of our favorite weather books are: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Little Cloud by Eric Carle, What Will the Weather Be? by Lynda DeWitt.
Using a paper or stuffed bear is a great way for your child to feel empowered. Once you’ve determined the type of weather, ask your child how they think Teddy should be dressed. If the child suggests a heavy coat on a hot day, it is a great opportunity for you to discuss how Teddy will feel after being out in the hot sun for awhile. This can avoid a power struggle between you and your child later when they are choosing their own clothes.
As the seasons change, so do our daily wardrobes. Point out these changes to your child by observing the changes in their environment during a walk or car ride. Notice together how those changes impact your clothing choices. Emphasize this change by establishing labeled tubs or boxes of clothing for each season. Have your child partake in the sorting of clothing (gloves go in the winter box and bathing suits go into the summer container, etc.)! Make this a philanthropic exercise by allowing your child to decide which clothes no longer fit and have them assist you with donating them to a local charity. If after this sort your child is low on a particular type of clothing have them work with you to create a list of needed items. This will also provide them with a greater sense of respect and ownership over their clothing.
Clothing Collection Boards
You could also create collection boards for each season by gathering items from outside and clipping images of events, holidays, and clothing particular to that season.
Books about the Seasons
As the seasons change, grab some weather appropriate books from your local library. Some of our favorites are: Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, The Mitten by Jan Brett, and Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens: A Book About the Four Seasons by Louise Borden.
History and Culture
For young children, the concept of time is hard to grasp. Using the changing trends of clothing as a way to mark the passage of time can be a fun and concrete way to illustrate this tricky concept. Put up a few photos in your child’s room depicting clothing over the decades. Make sure to include photos of family members – it will make it more meaningful.
You may also consider posting a few images of how people dress around the world. You will want to be thoughtful about not perpetuating stereotypes. For example, along side a photo of Indian woman in a sari, you might want to also include an Indian man/woman wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
Pictures of children wearing different clothing can also provide infants and young toddlers the opportunity to learn how things belonging to the same category can look drastically different. For example, they may learn that there are many different types of head gear that fall into the category of items that we call “hats.” They do this type of inventory by labeling a diverse set of examples in the same way. Check out Smithsonian’s Learning Lab for an easy way to build a collection of Smithsonian objects to share with your little one.
Explore the fabric of the item your child is wearing. This simple act is a concrete exercise that will help a child practice observational skills and build vocabulary. Take this exercise a step further and ask “I wonder where your XXX came from?” or “I wonder how it was made?” Use images and real objects to demonstrate that clothing doesn’t just magically appear. Use a photo of a cotton plant or pull your sewing kit out from the closet. Either way, this will help give your child some perspective on where and how they get their clothing.
Extra Time = Extra Opportunities
We hope you feel empowered to turn getting dressed into a fun and enriching experience for you and your child. Remember, incorporate one or two of these ideas and don’t feel pressured to do everything or get too elaborate. If you can give yourself that ten extra minutes one or two mornings a week, you will be surprised how you can enrich your routines. Let us know if you tried any of the ideas out! Until next time, Happy Learning!