When Elliott tee-teed on How to Raise a Child this morning, it reminded me that I need to do another chapter summary. Chapter Two is titled "Discovery through the Senses." I'll summarized its sections.
Building Sensory Awareness
Encourage children to focus their attention on the physical world, exploring with each of their senses. The nervous system develops up until age six. The more signals sent from the nervous system to the brain, the stronger the neuropathways in the brain become. Learning at a later age depends on how the brain was "hard-wired" at an early age. I was interested to learn about this. It makes a lot of sense and supports the notion of parents being a child's most important teacher.
Basket of Treasures
Toddlers and babies use all of their senses, where adults tend to rely solely on sight.
Children like us to be nearby, but don't want us to always interfere.
To a young child, everything is a new and exciting discovery.
Create a basket full of a variety of items:
Touch--rocks, pine cones, glass.
Smell--get glass salt shakers and put lavender, coffee beans, vanilla bean pieces in them.
Hearing--crinkly paper, bells, beans in a container.
Sight--include several items of similar colors, but various shades.
Taste--they will most likely put each item in the basket in their mouths.
When your child first discovers the basket, don't talk to them. Allow your child to explore on his own. To get him interested you might go pick up an object yourself, study it, then put it back without a word.
Sensory activities that help children learn
Color, shape, & size
Sorting objects--like a bunch of buttons of three different colors. Child sorts the buttons by color into three bowls.
Stacking blocks--from largest to smallest on top
Matching paint swatches--you can do this with paint chips from the hardware. Have two of each. Child has to match each pair. I also do this with socks. I get about a half dozen pairs of socks and we match them up. The girls especially love it. We can talk about color, texture, size, details.
Geometric shape stacker, wooden puzzles, concentration game also.
Dried lima beans--let your child play with lima beans and a bowl. Child will love the sound of the beans as well as their feel and look.
Matching bells--gather pairs of bells. Child works on matching the tones.
Sound Cylinders--get six (or so) pair of opaque containers. For example, you can use baby food jars, just paint the inside or line inside with paper. Paint six containers one color and six another color, say pink and green. Gather ingredients that willcsound different in your containers: rice, beans, sand, pebbles. Fill one pink and one green container with the same ingredient. When you are finished you'll have two containers of each ingredient. Your child will have twelve containers to shake and match up.
Silence game--I love this idea. I haven't started it yet, but plan to today. Have your child sit quietly without making noise or moving each day for a period of time. In the beginning it will just be for 30 seconds. Silence is not appreciated in today's world. I know many people who cannot sit still and be quiet. I am talking about adults, not children. I really like the idea of doing this with our children. There is so much acticity and noise in our house. I want them to get the benefits of quiet and stillness.
Also you can have your child practice walking with a bell without ringing it. Anything that puts their attention toward the calm.
Listening to Music--As you play music in your house, don't be afraid to dance and clap and sing. Also, talk about instruments you hear palying, composers, singers, song titles. Begin asking your child questions about these things. Our three love Dan Zanes. He plays a lot of harmonica. Now, when ever they hear a harmonica, they shout "Dan Zanes, Dan Zanes."
Texture matching--glue velcro, sand, seeds, fabric, etc., to two pieces of wood each. Have children match the pairs with their eyes closed.
Fabric matching--same as paint chip matching above, just with fabrics of varying textures.
Sandpaper tablets--Same idea, just use varying grades of sand paper.
Mystery bag--fill a cloth bag with items your child knows and can name. She should reach in and try to identythe objects by touch alone. Some ideas are dice, walnut, toy train, shell, plastic fork. Have her tell you what she thinks the item is before she pulls it out.
Perfume bottle--Again, same idea as above. Use salt shakers or spice jars. Have six of one color and six of another color. Make pairs of each scent, one in each color shaker. Some items you can use are orange or lemon rinds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, coffee beans. You can also put a liquid scent on a cotton ball and place it in the jars--vanilla extract, perfume, almond extracts, and peppermint flavorings.
Herb scents--Grow an herb garden. Teach your son how to use a mortar and pestle and make simple sachets, how to put herbs in a bowl to make potpourri.
Talk about the different foods you eat, especially their properties: sweet, sour, salty, bitter. Also, talk about specific flavors in foods, such as ginger in a gingerbread cookie.
Tasting bottles--Use dropper bottles and fill with the four components of taste: lemon juice for sour, black coffe for bitter, salty water, sugar water.
In an attempt to save money this holiday season, I have been thinking of things I can make for our children and niece. There are a lot of ideas above for inexpensive Hanukkah and Christmas gifts. I am going to definitely make paint swatch games, and I hope to make the sound cylinders and maybe the perfume bottles or fabric matching game.
Sections I skipped:
How babies experience their world