Play is important for every child and for the first few years of their lives, babies and toddlers learn a huge amount during what they consider to be 'play'. This is why teaching through play is such a great way to guide and educate our children because the message gets through, they learn and yet it all happens while they are having fun, playing!
During play, children expand their understand of the world, their understanding of themselves, and indeed their understanding of other people. Once children play together, it is also a way to start communicating with other children and sharing ideas and games.
By six months, children have learned, through trial and error, various sequences that they practice. If they push a ball, it rolls! They see that something happens and they like the feeling of it happening. They are learning to grip and drop and use their hands.
By nine months they might push a ball, crawl to get it and push it again. They master new skills and make the play more interesting and complex for themselves. They use props more and gravitate towards toys they like.
By a year, they are able to be even more accurate with their props/toys. They know a rattle will rattle and can kick or throw or roll a ball.
Types of play
What's our role?
Observe and comment in a positive way to encourage them.
Play with them especially when they are young, It affirms the idea of playing and makes them feel worthwhile if you are willing to play too.
Create a playful atmosphere and allow them to play - give them permission to make some noise or a mess!
Make suggestions if they are stuck.
Ensure everyone plays safely ie. the equipment is safe and that the children behave properly too!
You may think that babies are too young to participate in craft projects, but there are plenty of craft ideas you can do with them. Most ideas revolve around sensory stimulation - letting babies experience touch and textures of different materials. As babies can be prone to putting things in their mouths, it makes sense that you use edible food for early craft, such as jelly, squirty cream, ice cream, pasta or rice. Babies will enjoy the feel of foods, put them on newspaper on the floor and they will start to make their own art! You don't want to introduce glue at this stage, but again you can improvise with edible glues. A mix of flour and water will make an adequate glue for sticking pasta onto paper, you can also make edible glue from CMC powder used for cake decorating. Of course babies won't be creating amazing pictures but they can play with layers of paper or foods that they can move around paper coated with an edible glue.
You can also do hand and foot painting, or create impressions in clays, with your baby, to create a lovely keepsake. Again there are plenty of ways to make edible paints and clays - log into ToucanLearn and look under 'Fun Stuff' for recipes for both. If you have a baby, register them in ToucanLearn and you'll be able to see plenty of other craft ideas and actvities to follow with them.
Baby craft sounds messy, and yes it is! ...but your baby will enjoy sensory craft play and will begin to learn textures and develop their fine motor skills.
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