Toy *Chorey* Day 3: 👗CARING FOR “DOLLY DEAR”🧵dressing + mending!

“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity which is derived from a sense of independence.”

-Maria Montessori

Thanks for tuning in for Toy Week; getting playful with practical-life activities! If you’re just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed so far:

Dolly Practice

Just as it is nearly impossible to learn to braid hair on one’s own head, I have found that learning to button, snap, or zip up a garment on one’s own body to be a daunting task for a small child. For one thing, he can’t always reach the closures very easily. For another, he is almost always looking at the job upside down, or even blindly. Of course, I’m not the first parent or teacher to observe this difficulty. In fact, it’s been about a century since Maria Montessori first advocated for children to button up each other’s jackets in a classroom setting before going out to play. But we Homeschool families, who may not daily house multiple like-aged kids to button each other’s coats, can still teach dressing skills to our little ones by using a surrogate classmate —Dolly Dear!

Oh, how I wish I had learned the power of dolly dressing years ago! It took our son a very long time to learn how to dress himself. Closures were anything but a snap for him in his toddler and preschool years. We worked with dressing frames but they never held our son’s interest for long enough for him to master the skills. I wish I had thought to use a doll in teaching our son dressing skills. After all, a doll is basically a dressing frame come to life with body, limbs, and a face imprinted with child-imagined identity! In other words, it’s like the epitome of dressing frames. But the idea never occurred to me until this year in observing our daughter with her dolly.

Grandma bought “Dolly Dear” for our little girly-girl for her second birthday this past year and Dolly has since become like a member of the family (and far and away the best behaved member at that 😆 ). But Dolly Dear has done even more for our little one than provide hours of nurturing play and endless naptime companionship. In the hours spent with Dolly, our little two-year-old has readily learned the skills she needs to begin dressing herself independently . . . no drilling or dressing frames required.

Dolly Dear provides an intrinsic reward for mastering dressing skills;

a why for learning to use snaps . . .

a goal for finishing that row of buttons . . .

a nurturing responsibility for zipping up that coat.

So, we invite you to join us in helping our little ones learn to dress themselves, as well as teach our bigger kids to mend clothes, by first practicing on Dolly Dear.

CARING FOR DOLLY DEAR; mending and dressing skills!

~Cleaning Dolly (for kids ages 2 to 7)~

I couldn’t believe how dirty my daughter’s dolly was when we cleaned it today! If I had realized, we would have done this skill school months ago! Let’s just say, little sticky fingers over the course of a year can really smudge up quite a gray film of grime! Poor Dolly Dear.


  • Dolly Dear (and friends)
  • a lid or small jar filled with water
  • Q-tips
  • a small wash cloth and tiny amount of soap if needed (we really needed it!)


Refer to our previous post ✨TOY SPA🖌️ detailing dirt, dust, and dings!

~Dressing Dolly (for kids ages 2 to 7)~


  • Dolly Dear (and friends!)
  • an assortment of doll clothes including snaps, buttons, zippers
  • a blanket to sit on


Set up a dressing station with the above supplies and follow the step-by step directions below for each dressing skill one at a time. Depending on the age of your child, she may not master each dressing skill at this time. That’s ok! Come back to this post regularly as needed. We are merely familiarizing our children with various dressing closures and slowly developing the skills needed to handle them. So, take your time!

*Heads, Limbs, and Tunnels*

Young children will need to first practice merely getting a dolls head, arms, and legs through all the sleeves, pants, and neck of a garment. This skill is in itself quite a difficult one to master for a fumbly-fingered toddler. Give your child plenty of time to work on this skill set, but do move on if she becomes too frustrated. We need to recognize that this can be a confusing task for our little ones.

1.) Identify slowly for your child the “neck,” “arm,” and “leg”/”skirt” of a garment. Ask your child to identify them back to you. Repeat until he can successfully identify all the “tunnels” of a garment.

2.) Show your child how to first pull a garment over the doll’s head, or up over the legs if working with pants.

3.) Next, address “feeding” limbs through “tunnels.” Make it playful whenever possible.

“Where, oh where are Dolly’s toes? Toes!! Are you in there?”

4.) Adjust cuffs and collars as needed.


1.) Show your child how to line up a snap base and insert. Allow her time to practice.

2.) Next, show your child how to pinch both sides of a snap tightly together and then help him apply force if needed to seal the snap.

3.) Let your child try to “unsnap” Dolly Dear when finished, helping as needed.


1.) Show your child how to select either the top most or bottom most button and hole.

2.) Direct your child to poke her index finger through a button hole and “meet it” to the corresponding button.

3.) Millimeter by millimeter, help her simultaneously feed the button through the hole while she retracts her index finger out of the button’s way.

4.) Continue in order up or down the garment until all buttons are completed, helping as needed.

*For larger buttons, your child may simply use his index finger to widen the button hole rather than poke it through. Experiment as needed.


1.) Name each part of the zipper and have your child recite the names back to you.

Understanding Zipper Types, Weights, Sizes and Parts - The DIBY Club

2.) Show your child how to first bring the “slider” to the very bottom of the garment at the “bottom stop” or “retainer box”.

3.) Direct your child to pinch both the “bottom stop” or “retainer box” and “pull tab”.

4.) If working with a separated zipper, help your child feed the “insertion pin” into both the “slider” and “retainer box”. It may help your child to think of it as a sort of lock and key.

5.) Help your child maintain downward tension on the base of the garment while pulling the “slider” up. If the “insertion pin” slides out of the “retainer box” just say “whoops! That key fell out of the lock again! Let’s try that again.”

~Mending Dolly’s Clothes (for kids 6 and up)~

For specific sewing help and stitches to use, refer to my previous post: Ten 🧶Sewing Skills🧵 for Kids from One to Ninety-Two!


  • a collection of doll clothes in need of mending
  • a sewing kit
  • fabric scissors
  • fabric scraps for patches
  • safety goggles
  • buttons if needed


1.) Set up a Dolly Dear Mending Station with the above supplies.

2.) Help your child select a garment to mend. Discuss what needs to be repaired. What color thread should we use? What type of stitch? Which button?

3.) Put on safety goggles and explain that needles are sharp!

4.) On a scrap piece of fabric prior to mending, allow your child to practice some stitches, sew on a button, or sew a patch. Refer to my previous post if needed: Ten 🧶Sewing Skills🧵 for Kids from One to Ninety-Two!

5.) Assist your child in stitching up a torn hem/seam, sewing on a patch, or re-attaching a button.

6.) As you sew, take the time to help your child thread a needle, use fabric scissors to cut out a fabric patch, tie a knot, or master a stitch.

If you missed WASH DAY WITH DOLLY DEAR, click here!

Thanks ever so much for reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

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