How do you use this material?
The Dressing Frames are part of the Practical Life Area, and are a set of twelve-inch square wooden frames with various clothing fasteners. There might be zippers, large buttons, small buttons, velcro, lacing, and bow tying, among others. The Dressing Frames are often displayed in a box or on a tower.
The Dressing Frames are presented to a child early on, since there are simple ones available, such as velcro or snaps. A presentation can be quick, but this material encourages lots of repetition, since there are multiple fasteners down the Frame, and children often practice more than once.
A Dressing Frame is taken off the tower or out of the box, carried like a tray to the table, and set in front of a child sitting at the table. There, slow and precise movements demonstrate how to open each fastening, providing an opportunity for the child to try as soon as possible. After the whole frame is undone, all the fasteners are then closed, transferring to the child as she shows readiness.
The Dressing Frames are a material that are used throughout the child’s time in the classroom. Simple fasteners, such as velcro, can be presented very early on, whereas a child might use Bow Tying or Boot Lacing in their last year in the Primary Classroom.
What is a child learning?
A child is learning whichever fastener is being presented. For instance, with the Button Frame, a child is learning to unbutton and to button.
What does a child not know they’re learning?
This is a material that might be one of the first times a child experiences deep concentration. Before it becomes rote, buttoning is a very difficult skill. In the Primary Classroom, there are typically five repetitions — five opportunities to unbutton, five opportunities to button. Once you’ve fastened all five, it is not uncommon for a child to repeat the process all over again.
A child might be able to zip the Zipper Frame, yet still asks for help with his coat. These skills are separate in the mind, until the child makes the connection that the zipper on his coat uses the same movements as the Frame in the classroom.
A fastener on clothing might still provide challenges for a child, since a button might be smaller and more fiddly, it’s upside down and backwards, and there’s the emotional component of wanting to do something for yourself. The Dressing Frames help a child develop independence with dressing.
Written by:Charlotte Wood