14 May 2003,
We wanted to try something different and came up with the idea of having a launderette. The project started with a discussion on how and why we have to wash clothes - for example, when children have accidents with food or paint.
We had a number of large boxes lying around the nursery and used these to make the washing machines. I covered them with white paper and cut out a large round hole for the door. We had also been collecting different coloured bottle tops and used these for the buttons.
Our three- and four-year-olds had a wonderful time making things to bring the launderette to life. They wrote out some signs, with a little help, which included a price list, opening times, a welcome note and a lost property sign. We bought a child-sized ironing board and washing basket, and parents brought in empty washing-up powder boxes. At the front of our launderette I set up a table with a till, Yellow Pages and a comment book.
The children were very excited by the theme and raring to take on their roles. They pretended to staff the launderette, load the machine, and hang the role-play clothes on the washing line to dry and iron them. I think we underestimate what children know; they are much cleverer than we think.
As well as having lots of fun, the children have gained knowledge and understanding of the world, writing skills, and most importantly, social skills. They were all eager to use the launderette but understood that they had to share and take turns.
Senior nursery nurse Karen Holmes spoke to Mahrukh Choughtai