Me Do It!

That is a phrase I hear from my fiercely independent toddler a gazillion times per day. She says it while I am trying to teach her how to brush her teeth rather than suck on her toothbrush. “Mommy stay here,” she cries as I review the steps for going potty like a big girl. “No me,” she insists as I buckle her into her carseat.

I am trying to channel all that energy and independence into learning new skills. My sister-in-law is a montessori teacher and left me a long list of suggested activities. One of the items on the list was to make dressing frames. Dressing has been a skill we have been working on for some time. J has had some success putting on shoes and socks and threading her arms into her shirts after I help her to pull it over her head. She has recently gotten pretty good at pulling her pants up/down to use the potty. She has long mastered taking off shoes, socks, pants, diapers- usually at the most inopportune times!

I did a little research on montessori dressing frames. You can see some of the pages I pinned  for inspiration here. I also did a search on Amazon and found that you can buy individual dressing frames for about $10 a piece. I am far too thrifty (read “cheap”) for that so needed a different option. That is when I remembered that I am a Physical Therapist in addition to being a mom. Technically, activities of daily living  (or ADLS as we like to call them) fall under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy, but we PTs do our fair share of helping patients relearn life skills. I peeked into the OT closet at work and hit the jack pot- wooden frames with fabric stretched across them and a variety of fasteners including buttons, snaps, zippers and belts. Some one had hand-made these frames, and it looked as though some light sewing was involved. I wanted to make this project as cheap and fast as possible. All the other posters had used $1 wooden frames. I couldn’t find any that cheap so ended up settling on these $2 wooden boards from Hobby Lobby. I got a variety of shapes and sizes as I didn’t know what would work best.

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Then I hunted through a pile of clothing Juliette had outgrown. Clothing in the 9-12 month range provided the best fit for my boards. At first, I carefully scrutinized the clothes not wanting to damage perfectly good clothes that could be passed along. But I was also determined  to make these dressing frames without any sewing or cutting.  I used upholstery tacks to fasten the clothes to the boards. The tacks can be pushed in by hand or hammered if not cooperating. I recommend a hammer or rubber mallet but must admit I used my meat tenderizer (don’t worry, it was clean!). The best part is that the tacks can be easily removed if need be. Total time commitment <5 min per frame.

I made one frame for buttoning:

IMG_5874 IMG_5876One frame for snapping:

IMG_5880And one for zipping:

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J is making excellent progress with zipping. She can operate the slider and just needs help to seat it in the bottom stop. She can align the snaps together and just needs to put a little more muscle into her snapping action. Buttons are a bit tougher but I think she’ll catch on pretty soon. I have approached the learning from a rehab stand point as that is what I know best, but there is a good tutorial on the montessori approach found here. I plan to add frames for buckling, hook and eye fasteners, lacing and tying when appropriate. I’ll post pics when I do. Thanks to Debbie for the idea!

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2 thoughts on “Me Do It!

  1. Where did you get the sweater on the bottom? My aunt just brought a similar one home for my son and she got it in France.

    • I have no idea. My MIL bought it one Christmas and I believe she got it in a thrift shop in Florida.

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