Integrated Skills - Laundry

By Activity Bank on May 17, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Mary Jane Clark and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

This activity allows teachers to use a natural setting to teach academic skills, which then helps the students apply these skills to their independent living needs. Lessons include sequencing, sorting, reading/listening, money, measurement, time, and motor skills.


  • Sequence cards depicting items to be washed, or a recorded account of the steps involved in doing laundry
  • Laundry basket and laundry
  • Detergent and measuring tool


  • Start by discussing the sequence of the laundry process. Talk about what laundry is and why people do it.
  • Familiarize the student with the laundry facility. Allow the student to explore the area, and practice opening and closing the doors on the machines.
  • Sequencing
    • Have the student review the sequence of doing laundry by using sequence cards or listening to a recorded account of the steps involved in doing laundry. This recording can be made by the student, following the initial lesson on laundry. An example of sequencing cards is:
      • Gather dirty laundry.
      • Sort by color.
      • Measure detergent.
      • Pour detergent into machine.
      • Count out money for machine.
  • Sorting
    • Have the student sort laundry according to like items: all pants, all shirts, all towels, etc.
    • Have the student sort according to material: all terry cloth, all corduroy, etc. It may be helpful to sort items into separate baskets.
    • Have the student sort clothing by color. Clothing may be marked according to light or dark colors. For example, all dark items have a safety pin in the waistband or collar.
    • A color/temperature code may be helpful when loading and selecting water temperature. This chart can be brailled in advance and incorporated into a lesson about the effects of water temperature on clothing. Make the chart simple and easy to use.
  • Reading/listening
    • Make a checklist in braille, print, or an audiotape of items needed to do laundry, such as coins, dirty laundry, detergent, hangers, laundry bag. Review the list and assemble all items together.
    • Make a clothing checklist: have the student record in braille, print, audiotape, picture, or using tactile symbols to keep track of items removed from each room. This will also reinforce reading and number skills. Have the student deliver clothing to the appropriate bedroom or room.
  • Money Skills
    • In a coin-operated facility, have the student select appropriate coins for the machine. This activity may be done prior to doing laundry by having the student place the coins in small envelopes. For example, if the washing machine requires four quarters, have the students put four quarters into an envelope, thereby speeding up the laundry process.
  • Measurement
    • Have the student pour the appropriate amount of detergent into a measuring cup. This may be done in a number of ways:
      • Using a container that is the exact size needed, such as one-half cup, have the student scoop powdered detergent using the one-half cup measure.
      • After the student has mastered scooping the exact amount out of the box, have him practice pouring into the measuring cup.
      • Start by using liquid detergent over a sink or a bucket, then move to powdered detergent.
      • Place the cup on a counter or flat surface.
      • Using a small box of powdered detergent, practice pouring into the cup. For cleanup purposes, it may be helpful to place a tray under the cup.
      • Once the student has mastered filling up, begin using a larger cup and fill the cup half full. This will help develop the concept of half/whole.
      • The pouring and measuring activity may be done ahead of time by having the student measure and prepackage the detergent.
  • Time
    • Have the student listen for the timer on the machine to know when it is time to place the items in the dryer.
    • Have student set the timer on the dryer, based on the articles being dried (see next bullet). The timer can be preset to a general time, or, if time concepts and number recognition skills permit, use the timer to set the exact number of minutes.
    • A chart for drying may be helpful; the chart would list items that take longer to dry such as towels, jeans, etc. This will help the student estimate how long the entire load will take.
  • Motor
    • Using a laundry bag or basket, help the student organize his work space from left to right.
    • Place the basket on the floor or a table to the left of the machine, then have the student remove one object from the basket and place it in the machine.
    • Continue this procedure until the basket is empty.
    • Have the student move the basket to the right side of the machine. When the wash is finished, have him remove the clothing one item at a time and place it in the basket on the right.
    • Have the student help fold clothing. Begin by giving him items that are easy to fold such as washcloths or small towels.


Adjust the instructions accordingly for laundry being done at home versus in a coin-operated situation.