Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dressing Basket

I have to be honest, I'm not a fan of dressing frames. In theory I think they are a fine idea, but in practice I think they are awkward, cumbersome, and frankly, not very practical. I purchased some, but I wasn't at all impressed. I had to fix and adjust them just so they'd be usable. {I'm sure this is because I went the cheap-o route and ordered them from a discount Montessori supplier, but these are something I just couldn't justify spending a lot of money on.} Anyway, the bigger issue is that James avoids them like the plague. And while we do practice these skills in everyday life using whatever thing we come across, I knew I needed to come up with another method for him to practice these skills in the classroom.

I've had this idea in the back of my mind for a while now and I finally got around to putting it together. I thought, why not gather a variety of clothing that represents each of the dressing components? Surely James would find this more appealing than a rigid board and isn't this a bit truer to life?

I tried to use most of James' clothes, but had to bend for the hook and eye and I used one of my own sweaters. Inside the basket there's an article of clothing for each of the following fasteners:

::Hook & Eye

Another is safety pins, but I'm going to hold off on that one for a bit longer.

~Thank you for your comments!~


Anonymous said...

I totally agree this is a much better way to do practical life! How does James like it! Sammy love to figure out how these things work and get himself dressed.

Eva said...

fantastic :) I like how you put all the things together in a basket. We've been practicing buttoning, zippering, and lacing on everyday items but if I put it in a basket it'd be great for more practice. thanks!

Unknown said...

I never bothered with the dressing frames either and all my kids can manage those fastenings just fine - they naturally dress and undress themselves many times during the day and just learn it as matter of course.

I like your idea though - my kids have been asking for a dressup box so maybe I'll put together one with this purpose in mind.

Jessie, The Education Of Ours said...

I also admit it, I'm not a fan of dressing frames. I like the idea of them, but on a budget- it's not necessary. I'm pretty traditional, but they aren't as attractive to children as a real shoe, a real zipper vest, a real belt, etc. Great visual! I know a lot of classrooms that look like this to add to the dressing frame work.

Kathy said...

Great idea.
Not all dressing frames are
created equal, however.
I do find that the frame
can get in the way depending
on how it's made.

City Sister said...

We've been doing this for years. My son is very much against anything in this area, but step by step, he's getting it.

Ewa said...

I like your dressing basket, I also used realia insted of those artificial frames. My older son found them demotivating. My younger one is practising on his lacing shoes, our backpacks, my purses etc - suming up great fun and so close to real life chalenges. I think I'm going to "steal" your basket idea and put all of the things together in one place + adding the buckling element. Kisses from freezing Poland

Deepti Khemani Bhatia said...

at first the dressing frames looked cool to me.
But I completely agree that they are not true to life and your DIY idea is wonderful and more practical. My DD 26 months love buckling the buckle on her stroller and that is super practical!

Anonymous said...

So clever. I have thought (and even bought supplies for!) about making one of those activity pillows that has all those fasteners on it but I am so intimidated by the sewing that I have never sat down to tackle the project. This would be so much easier!
Thanks for sharing.

Dizzyhappymama said...

excellent idea!!thanks! My oldest child is 5 and still has a hard time with things that fasten!!I am goin to do this today as a game!

Corrie said...

What a great idea! Does he enjoy it?

Counting Coconuts said...

Thanks very much for your comments! I appreciate them, especially because I know my idea goes against the Montessori grain. :)

James very much enjoys his dressing basket and has been working with it everyday - a far cry from how he'd turn a cold shoulder to the dressing frames! He's nearly perfected snapping and buttoning and is now working on bows.

This basket has worked out really well for us! Now, if I could just return those dressing frames! :)

Stephanie Dahl said...

I tried making my own dressing frames once and the results were not pretty. The frames I selected were too thin and the upholstery tacks went all the way through. I think my girls would've liked them, but I abandoned the project. I like your idea of the dressing basket very much! Recently I discovered my girls love to dress their dolls with some vintage doll clothes given to us by a friend. The clothes have great types of closures (no velcro though :) ) and I think they get some practice with the fasteners that way. As others have mentioned, simply dressing and undressing themselves is perfect practice for practical life.

Counting Coconuts said...

Yes, I agree with you all - the everyday task of dressing and undressing is a great way to learn some of these skills. James dresses and undresses himself everyday, but his clothes are mainly limited to just buttons, snaps and zippers. The basket provides a bit more variety. :)

Rebecca said...

So glad you wrote this post!! I've always thought dressing frames were an unneeded expense, but I figured I was missing something. Now I know I'm not alone.

Jen said...

What a nice variety adn I totally agree that this is a better way to teach these skills!!

AndieF said...

I had the dressing frames for awhile too, and the kids didn't use them either. So I had one of the moms make dressing vests. The kids LOVE them. I have zipping, button, buckle, snap, velcro, tie, and hook and eye. I don't have safety pin vest. I like your idea too. Much more practial than the frames I think!

Deb Chitwood said...

Great idea, Mari-Ann! Even though I love Nienhuis Montessori materials, I found the dressing frames were never popular either in my Montessori school or homeschool. Your dressing basket is a fantastic solution for home use! I featured it at

The Nunnallys said...

Thanks for this great idea! I have been wanting to find ways to teach the basic button, snaps, ect. This is a great idea. Going to put together a basic now. Your teaching ideas are great thanks for sharing!!!

Deb Chitwood said...

I always love your dressing basket, Mari-Ann! Yesterday, I linked to the activity-of-the-week post featuring it, and today I featured your photo again in my Montessori-Inspired Activities for Care of Self at


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