Babies love to feel textures and interacting with different materials exposes a developing baby to different feels, all part of exploring the world around them. Create a 'Sensory Basket' (or a plain old box!) at home or in their play setting by finding interesting objects that you can bring out whenever you wish. For safety, look out for large objects that don't shed parts and be aware that there will be a tendency to explore items by mouth, so ensure that they are clean. Here are some ideas of objects that you might include:-
- Scrubbing sponge: find a soft sponge with a scrubbing pad surface
- Pine cone: dry out a large pine cone
- Mirror: look for a plastic mirrored surface rather than a glass one
- Crinkly paper: look for crinkly wrapping paper with a foiled surface
- Brush: look out a new hairbrush or nailbrush
- Sanding block (available at DIY stores) or pummice stone (from a pharmacy)
- Ball of wool: leave it wound up
Look around the house for other objects that your little ones can explore with touch. Sifting through draws you will quickly come across items that are safe for babies to handle and that offer a fw moments of fun to explore and sense!
Mirrors are a great resource to use in any childcare setting and can be used in all sorts of different ways. When little ones can see themselves and what they are doing, its a great way of encouraging play and exploration and help develop a sense of identity. Choose round-edged mirrors that are large, scratch and shatter-proof. Encourage the children to be gentle before play begins.
Some ideas for mirror-based activities:
- Set up a mirror near the front door, and get each child to take a look in there each morning. Is it an excited face, a sleepy face or a shy face this morning?
- Children love to see themselves in mirrors. Get them to make funny faces and see how scary or strange they look.
- Get the children to look at each other in the mirrors. Try out some expressions in the mirror and get the children to guess how each of them feel. Suggest a sad face, and a laughing face, a moody face and see if everyone can guess.
- Encourage them to touch the mirrors: are they real people or just a reflection? See if they will have a chat with the mirror image? Make it into a funny one sided conversation... show them how to do it if they aren't sure.
- Build up a tower or a construction and watch it fall down in the mirror.
- Try placing some mirrors at angles to each other so you create a whole little reflection world!
- Get some little characters to play with in front of the mirror. How many are there?
- Set up some blocks and try to move them about in from of a mirror. Is it hard to see which is real and which is a reflection?
- Act out some animal faces in front of the mirror and guess what they are!!
- Wash face, brush teeth and comb hair whilst looking in the mirror. Does it make it harder or easier?
Babies don't recognise that a mirror is reflecting their own image until they are between 12 and 18 months. The classic test to see if a baby recognises the reflection as themselves is to use lipstick to place a bold mark on their face. If they know that that are looking at themselves, they will reach up to touch the mark. Mirrors are still fun for babies, however, because they help babies to focus on objects and track moving objects with their eyes. They will also think they are looking at another baby and will try to interact with him or her.