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Laundry Games for Kids

Laundry is usually just one more chore on an endless list of things to do; it piles up until the last clean sock has been soiled and the chore refuses to be ignored anymore. The words "laundry" and "fun" might not have fit in the same sentence before, but after you try these laundry games, your kiddo might just think the two words are synonymous.How about a race to get the laundry off the clothesline?

Skill Game for Young Children

Laundry doesn't have to be a boring household task anymore; it's now a fun and engaging way to help your toddler or preschooler develop skills. Start with a simple sorting game for motor-skill development and color recognition. Simply have her help you sort the dirty laundry into piles by color before the two of you toss it in the washer. If you have a load full of stinky older-brother socks, you might want to save the color sorting game for after it's washed. Talk about each of the items as you put them in the washer or take them out of the dryer to help with early language skills.

"The key to developing receptive and expressive language skills in children involves two steps," explains Melanie Potock, certified pediatric speech language pathologist and founder of MyMunchBug.com in Longmont, Colorado. She explains that children will learn as you model words and sentences. First add new words to ones your child already says, and then listen for his response. For example, if your kiddo can say "towel," tell her it is a "big towel," and let her give the words a try. If she can say "big towel," tell her it is a "big, blue towel," and wait for her response.

The Laundry Dash

Help a school-age child (age 6 to 11) get his laundry chore done by turning it into a race. Start with a basket of clean laundry and have your child race to get all his clothes put away. You can make the game more of a challenge by setting a timer for your child to beat. If you have several kiddos who need to get their laundry put away, let your children work together to beat the clock, or have them go head-to-head to see who can get it done first and become the ultimate laundry champion.

"Have children participate in housework together to help siblings get along," recommends Kristi Miller, a marriage, family therapist intern, family mediator and founder of solutionsinparenting.com in Santa Barbara, California. There's no better way to do housework than to make it fun: You can even turn the laundry into a family challenge -- Mom and Dad versus the kids – and fill a basket full of clean laundry for each team. Mom and Dad might have more experience, but will the youngsters' youth and vigor win the race?

The Laundry Toss

If your youngster's bedroom floor looks more like a sea of clothing than a carpet, the laundry toss game can help you find the floor again without making the chore a drag. Be careful though; your kiddo might be tempted to repeat the mess just to play the game again. Start by lining up three laundry hampers; one for colors, one for darks and one for whites. Have your child pick up one item at a time and then move to a designated line in the room to throw the item into the correct basket.

Make the line close to the basket for a toddler or preschool-age child and further away as he gets older. Every good shot equals a point, so keep score each laundry day so your child can see if she's improving her aim. When all the family's laundry has been washed and dried, play the game again to sort the clothing into baskets for each person. The game might not create a love for laundry, but it will make the chore fun (and she'll probably develop some awesome basketball skills).

The Sock Match Challenge

If you dread hours of matching socks every month, turn it into a game for your preschool or young school-age child and have some fun with it. Load all the clean socks into one large laundry basket and let the cognitive skill development begin -- your child might think it's just a game, but matching skills are a precursor to the math and science skills he'll develop later.

Take turns pulling two socks out of the basket at a time; every time you pull out a matching pair, you get a point. Keep playing until you've matched all the socks in the basket -- or all that's left in the basket are those stragglers that seem to have lost their mates forever. Have other siblings join in and set a timer; the child to make the most matches wins the game.

Photography by: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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