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Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education

Drop the Clothespin (1st Grade)

Recommended # of players: 1 or more
Drop the Clothespin

This familiar game was probably played by an older generation with common household items: milk bottles (from when milk was delivered to the door in glass bottles) and clothespins (from when laundry was routinely hung outside to dry). Any bottle or can will do if it has an opening that is wide enough to accommodate a clothespin but narrow enough (generally, narrower than the length of the pin) to be challenging.

This very easy game does not even require turn-taking. Although children can take turns dropping their clothespins, they do not have to. The game can be played with everyone dropping their clothespins at the same time.

Children have the opportunity to reason about what they need to do to get their pins in the containers. Most children figure out quickly that the closer they are to the opening, the easier it is to get the pin into the container. Soon, they lean over so far that they are inches from the opening. When this happens, the teacher can introduce the rule that children must stand up straight. Most children also figure out quickly that they must hold the pin so that it drops vertically; when they hold the pin horizontally, it does not pass through the opening.

This game can also be played as a solitary activity.

Click the below icons to print out rules and notes.

Drop the Clothespin Rules

Drop the Clothespin:  Rules

Drop the Clothespin Notes

Drop the Clothespin:  Notes