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There is a major math skill that shows up when teaching kids how to separate laundry...SORTING!

Sorting helps our little ones discern differences and similarities, learn how to create categories, and begin to problem solve. Imagine how helpful sorting is in your everyday life.

You sort silverware, clothing, and toys all to create organized systems in your home. At the grocery store, items are sorted by categories for ease and efficiency of shopping. Recess at schools is most often sorted by grade level to keep kids of the same age together.

Sorting happens all the time, and kids need to know how to sort in more than one way in order to make sense of new information as they process the world around them. So let's teach these kiddos how to separate laundry before and after, and lighten your load while keeping them learning!

how to separate laundry for kids

Ways to separate laundry for kids:

There are so many ways to separate laundry but for kids these are the main ones you'll want to focus on.

Before washing categories:

After washing categories:

What does "how to separate laundry" have to do with math anyway?

how to separate laundry

In kindergarten kids need to..."Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count." -Kindergarten Common Core Standards

This activity encourages your child to sort the same objects in more than one way. Also there are opportunities for you to ask your CHILD how they think they should sort and separate the laundry, both before and after washing.

Being able to sort the same group of objects in more than one way shows diversity in thinking. It also engages us to problem solve: What is the best way to sort? There may be more than one answer.

For example, it might be better for the clothes to be sorted before washing by color in order for color not to leak from brights to whites. But since I don't have enough whites on my own, I may have to combine all the sizes to run a load of whites. This will make it harder to sort the laundry afterwards by person!

Go the step further and asking your child to describe HOW they want to sort gives us insight into how our child views the world: Is the size of something a bigger factor than its function? Is it more helpful to do lights together instead of whites? How come? These are critical thinking skills!

Here is what happened when I had my oldest help me separate the washed laundry...

I had a giant pile of clean laundry I ignored for about 3 days. I asked Big Sis how we should sort it. She decided by color, so we did that and problem solved as things had more than one color or pattern. But color wasn’t a practical way to sort laundry.

I asked her how we could sort the laundry to make it easier to put away. She said “by house room.” She then made a kitchen pile, a baby pile, mommy and daddy pile and her own. Of course then her sister came and ruined it but that’s life!

Rules to teach kids when learning how to separate laundry:

Pre-washing rules:

  1. Colors: the number 1 factor for sorting laundry pre-washing. Teach kids that when washing clothes are often sorted into whites, lights, and other colors. Brights never go with whites! There is always a "red sock story" that you can tell them about the red sock that made the whole load of white laundry pink!
  2. Category of item: sheets, towels, and clothes should all be washed separately. I don't know about you but my sheets will swallow up lots of small clothing items if I don't separate them, plus they need a hotter cycle.
  3. Super dirty vs worn once: We know what having kids is like! You may want to separate the ultra-messy paint covered shirt and those muddy cargo pants from the items that have only been worn once with no major incidents. Those super dirty/soiled clothes may need stain treatments or a harsher cycle. I love me some Oxiclean!
  4. Delicate vs sturdy: these terms are great vocabulary words for little ones to learn, and what kid doesn't want an excuse to talk about underwear? Delicates should be washed on their own and definitely not with thicker fabrics like denim!

Post-washing categories:

This is more up to you! Make these rules as a family, and try out different ways to sort. Here are some of the ways to separate we came up with for our clean laundry.

  1. Type of clothes- shirts go in one pile, underwear another, bottoms in another. Oh and don't forget the PJs!
  2. Who the clothes belong to- Each child has their own dresser in our house, so it makes sense for us to separate by Big Sis and Lil Sis.
  3. Size - very similar to the above, but this version will not only help kids learn how to determine if clothes belong to them (especially if you're like us and have lots of matching outfits) but also will help them identify numbers!

Done with laundry and looking for more sorting?

Now that your kids have learn how to separate laundry, they can apply their sorting knowledge to shapes with these 5 shape sorting activities!

Want to teach kids to do their own laundry? Stuffed Suitcase has a guide for what age they should learn what!

I used to cringe the first week of kindergarten when all the kids would come in their new, lace up shoes. If only I had learned the Cheerio Method of tying shoes earlier!

In those first weeks of kindergarten, I knew I'd be spending lots of time tying laces on cute little sneakers, feeling trapped! Eventually, I would send an email home, asking parents to please send their kids in Velcro or non-lace-up shoes until they learned how to tie them.

Though we would practice tying shoes in class, the usual bunny loop method required more double-handed dexterity than most of kindergarteners have. Even with lots of practice the kids would often get stuck after the first step. That was until I was introduced to the Cheerio Method of tying shoes!

The Cheerio Method of tying shoes for kids

The Cheerio Method for tying shoes in 5 easy steps:

The Cheerio way will teach your child how to tie shoes in 5 easy steps, and it works! It breaks down the most difficult part into two simple steps that kids really understand and can take ownership of. This is true hands-on learning.

This method does make a slightly different knot. Just pull up on one of the loops and it'll undo itself, simple as pie!

Step 1-Take the two strings and cross them over. Now take one of them and put it through the hole and pull them tight.

Step 1 cheerio method

Step 2- This is the step that makes the biggest difference! Do the same thing again, but instead of pulling the strings all the way tight, I'm leave a little hole big enough for a Cheerio. (It can be bigger than a Cheerio, but Cheerio is a cute reminder for them).

Step 2 cheerio method

Step 3- Take one lace and put it through the Cheerio making a little loop. Don't pull it yet.

step 3 cheerio method tying shoes

Step 4- Repeat on the other side.

step 4 cheerio method tying shoes

Step 5- Pull both loops outward and the shoe is tied!

Step 5

At what age should kids learn how to tie shoes?

Generally kids learn to tie their shoes between the ages of 5-7. The real answer is that everyone learns at their own pace. Tying shoes takes practice and dexterity.

For children that struggle with fine motor skills, it may take longer. To learn more about how to build up fine motor skills, check out this post that includes many fun, hands-on activities that strengthen the small muscles in fingers, hands, and wrists required for children to manipulate shoelaces, buttons, zippers, and writing utensils.

Using The Cheerio Way, I've helped many children aged 4-5 years old learn to tie their shoes. It works better than the "Bunny loops" version that requires children to hold a knot with one hand and then pull a lace around that and through with the other hand by removing that part completely!

Usually kids master the first step and get stuck, but with the Cheerio Method of tying shoes, they feel more comfortable moving to the second step since it's basically just a repeat! This method is also more accessible to kids with limb or finger differences that may struggle with manipulating objects using both hands.

What is the best way to teach a child to tie shoes?

Again, this question doesn't have a solid answer. The best way to teach your child is the one that works for them. I would even try more than one method and see what clicks.

There is the bunny loop method, which is actually how I was taught. The saying for tying your shoes with the bunny ears method goes like this:

Over, under, around and through,

Meet Bunny Rabbit, pull and through.

Another option is the double bunny ears method. Instead of pulling the bunny around and through, you make two loops, cross them over one another, then pull one under and through.

To me, both the bunny loop and double bunny ears method require lots of coordination on the part of the child. Looking for fun and easy ways to increase your child's dexterity? Check out these mega-fun fine motor skills activities.

Just because they require more dexterity doesn't mean these are not great methods though! I actually had a MEGA-VIRAL pin about shoe-tying on Pinterest that has over 6.5 million impressions. It had lots of love and some truly grumpy comments from people who did NOT want to learn any way but their way of tying shoes. HAHA!

But in all seriousness, the Cheerio method of tying shoes is an excellent option for kids, but that's just what it is, an option. Choose whatever works for you!

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