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By Hilary Whiteeducational and craft writer

From celebrations and role play to counting, colour and craft, ‘Clothes’ is a topic that offers lots of useful learning opportunities. Try the following activities with your children – and help them discover just how much fun they can have with clothes.

Children wearing t-shirts

A clothes shop

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Making Relationships

Talk about visiting a clothes shop to buy clothes. What do the children remember about their experiences? Talk about looking at clothes on the rails, taking them off the hanger and trying them on in the changing room, parents/carers paying for the clothes at the cash till, carrying the clothes home in a special carrier bag and cutting off the price ticket once they got home.

Set up a role-play clothes shop in your setting. Provide a cash till and play money, carrier bags, clothes on shelves and hangers, scarves, gloves, hats, shoes, bags and jewellery. Include a corner for trying on clothes and a secure full length mirror. With older children, talk about the signs and notices you see in a clothes shop and ask them to help you make signs such as ‘sale’, ‘half price’, ‘changing room’, ‘hats, ‘sportswear’ and so on.

Include areas that focus on different types of clothes, such as winter wear, summer wear, uniforms, celebration clothes and clothes from around the world (African kanga, Indian sari, Pacific Island sarong, Scottish kilt). If necessary, ask an assistant to help children with trying on the clothes.

One, two, buckle my shoe

Communication and Language

Create a shoe collection with lots of different types of shoes. Explore the shoes with the children. Look at:
  • What they are made of (Ieather, canvas, rubber, sheepskin),
  • How they are fastened (laces, buckles, Velcro)
  • Their colour
  • The size and shape of the heel (kitten, stiletto, wedge)

How can we tell the difference between a shoe and a boot, a shoe and a sandal or a shoe and a slipper? Talk about the special use for each type of shoe (playing sports, dancing, going to a party) and let the children try on the shoes. Ask the children to pick out different types of shoes from the collection, such as their favourite shoes, shoes that are pretty, shoes for dancing, shoes to keep your feet dry, shoes for the beach, indoor shoes and so on.

With the children, decide how to group and arrange the shoes and make labels for each area of the display. Add photos, pictures and picture books with a ‘shoe’ theme. Add boxes of shoes to play with and written challenges, such as ‘find the matching shoes’, ‘find all the boots’, ‘sort the shoes into brown and black’. Using rectangles of card, draw round the outline of different shoes to make a foot print. Can the children find the shoe that matches the print? Paint the bottom of shoes to make painty shoe prints.

Blue-tack a series of shoe prints (left and right), leading to and from the display. Challenge children to step on the shoe prints – where do they end up? Ask parents if they are willing to lend any special shoes for your display, such as a child’s first shoes, wedding shoes or antique shoes. Display precious shoes on a high shelf to keep them safe.

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