Spring Cleaning

by Early Math Counts

I don’t know about you, but I am already thinking about the end of winter!  I love breaking out my winter boots in December but by mid-January, I am desperate to pack them away again.

This got me thinking about Spring Cleaning and the opportunity for children to help us sort and pack, as well as clean and organize. Young children have not decided that chores are a drudgery and should be avoided at all costs.  In fact, if presented in the right way, many young children will enjoy these activities as much as an other, as long as they are free to play within them.

Noah could sweep a room all day.  If we gave that boy a broom, a mop, a Swiffer, or a Dustbuster, he could keep himself busy for hours.  Larry and I would sit back and watch him clean.  It was like having our very own Roomba.   Unfortunately, that stage didn’t last as long as I would have liked.  I think that if we had participated with him rather than simply watching him, he would not have realized so quickly that we were using him as unpaid child labor.  Oh well.  He has made up for it in his teenage years by rarely lifting a finger to clean anything.

Spring cleaning means sorting through gloves and mittens, hats and scarves, boots and woolen socks.  Finding pairs is a great game for children.  Have them match up the items that look alike (by color or type) and then find the pairs within the groups.  It is more effective if you ask them to look for one attribute at a time since young children have trouble/cannot think about 2 aspects of a problem simultaneously.  First, have them separate the gloves from the mittens and then find the pairs.  Separate the white socks from the colored socks, and then find the pairs.  You can show the children that shoes, boots, mittens, and gloves are mirror images and even though they look almost the same, they are  not exactly the same.  This will give you an opportunity to talk about symmetry and how the human body is symmetrical, so the clothes that fit them must be as well.  Encourage the children to put a left glove on their right hand to see if it works, or the right shoe on the left foot.  This will reinforce the concept that they are the same but different because they will feel the difference.

This is what was left over at my house at the end of last winter.  Where did all of the matches go?  Another great unsolved mystery!


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