Learning Words with Wash Day Play

Looking for a fun playful way to explore high-frequency words? How about adding them to this wash day play! These little keyword T-shirts are tough, waterproof, & great for all kinds of play.

I made this setup purely with Minnie in mind as she loves anything to do with washing her dolls clothes & pegging them out to dry!

To make this simple literacy play setup we used:
Printed sheets 
Laminator & laminating pouches (or contact paper/sticky back plastic) 
A length of ribbon & sticky tack
Mini clothespins 

 To make our keyword T-shirts I found a simple small T-shirt template on the computer & added a keyword to each shirt (Minnie is 4yrs so I added words that were relevant to her). Once printed I laminated each sheet before cutting them out. 

I also made some blank T-shirts so she could write on them with a dry wipe pen. These have been a big help in encouraging her confidence with writing & word recognition, & she's loved copying keywords from other T-shirts, adding new words, & using them to construct simple sentences.

To keep all our mini clothespins together I added a little washing bucket which was an ideal size to hook on a nearby door handle.

We used a long-handled basket to make a practical laundry basket for all the T-shirts, & this again hooked over a door handle & was big enough to hold the washing line, T-shirts & peg bucket when Minnie had finished playing.

For our washing line, we used a length of ribbon & attached it to our kitchen wall with good ol' sticky tack! Obviously, this washing line won't withstand too much weight, but it works perfectly for these T-shirts.

Not only are these simple T-shirts helping Minnie recognise & read familiar words, but she's also constructing sentences with them, exploring phonics, & incorporating them in her play. Pegging out the washing has also encouraged her hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, & spatial awareness.

She's also discovered the T-shirts fitted neatly onto favourite toys! Another fun way to play with words, tell familiar narratives & create new ones.

We've created games using the T-shirts too, & she's matched rhyming words, words that start with the same letter/letters, words that have the same number of letters, & those which share the same phonic sounds e.g. 'oo' 'ee' 'ie'.

And because they're laminated you can even 'wash' these T-shirts! Perfect for a little literacy play in the washtub or bathtub! When the T-shirts are wet they can be stuck around the bath & are ideal for games & bathtime stories. (Just make sure when you're making the T-shirts that you leave a little border of laminate around each T-shirt to prevent the water seeping through to the printed paper.)

Minnie has independently used these T-shirts in many of her play activities around the house & garden, & it's been good to see just how they're helping her recognise those high-frequency words, & giving her confidence with her reading. 

Incorporating a little literacy in a relaxed playful way is great for encouraging children to explore & learn at their own pace & in a way that is meaningful & relevant to them. What do your kids enjoy? Perhaps this little literacy idea could be adapted to suit their interests.

If you'd like a copy of our keyword T-shirts, leave a comment & I'll add a link to them later.