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Toddlers are typically obsessed with water and washing things. At least my daughter was right around 2 1/2 years old.  She would always imitate me with her own broom and dustpan when I sweep the floor and she also loved rinsing dishes at the sink. Even now at 6, she still loves helping out around the house. Introducing practical life washing activities to toddlers is a great way to encourage this skill and make it fun!

What is Practical Life?

Practical life skills in a Montessori method term that basically means any activity that a child does that is practical and takes care of their environment or self. In Occupational Therapy, we refer to this as activities of daily living (or ADLs). Toddlers naturally gravitate towards these types of activities as they begin to explore themselves and their environment.

Practical Life Washing Activities

We did a really fun seashell washing activity out on the porch. Ellie loved this and worked with it for at least an hour.

Seashell Washing Activity –  Growing Hands-On Kids

Washing dishes can begin at a very early age. I love how Marie at Child Led Life shares how she introduced washing dishes to her toddler.

Washing Dishes – Child Led Life

Washing a doll is also a great activity for practicing self-care or if you have a younger sibling joining the family. We have a baby no. 2 coming in July, so I will definitely have to do this with Ellie before he comes.

Doll Washing Activity – Living Montessori Now

This activity below also combines some cooking skills (peeling a hard-boiled egg) along with cleaning up afterward. My daughter has been asking to use eggs when I get them out for breakfast, I think I need to try this one with her.

Pealing Eggs & Washing Practical Life Activity – Carrots are Orange

Along those same lines, Vanessa had her son scrub some potatoes while they were making a delicious soup recipe.

Scrubbing Potatoes – Mama’s Happy Hive

In this mini farm unit with an activity of washing a miniature horse. Ellie loves animals, we will definitely be trying this one.

Farm Unit with Washing Horse Practical Life Activity – Living Montessori Now

Last year during the fall season we did a pumpkin washing activity. This is always a very popular activity. Here are three options for you. One from Natural Beach Living where her older kids also participated, one we did on GHOK along with our pumpkin unit (comes with free printables too), and one from Mama’s Happy Hive that she did with her toddler.

Pumpkin Washing Activity – Natural Beach Living

Pumpkin Washing along with Pumpkin Unit – Growing Hands-On Kids

Pumpkin Scrub – Mama’s Happy Hive

Here is another really fun one with dinosaurs from Carrots are Orange.

 washing a dinosaur practical life activity – Carrots Are Orange

And this is a very practical one, I need to have Ben do this one since he loves his bike.

Washing a tricycle – Uno Zwei TuTu

What kinds of practical life washing activities have you done with your toddler? Let me know in the comments below!

Need more ideas? Check out my resources below.

Follow Heather | Growing Hands-On Kids’s board Hands-on activities for kids on Pinterest.

  • 25 Play Dough Invitation to Play Activities for Kids
  • Pom-Pom Transfer Pincer Grasp Activity for Toddlers
  • Pom-Pom Number Caterpillars – Busy Bags Kids Will Love 
  • Fine Motor Checklists for Ages 0-6

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