Smooth, rough, dull, shiny, soft, hard!
- Prepare items that exhibit different characteristics
- Let baby touch!
- Talk to baby about it
This activity can be done in conjunction with daily activities. E.g. when getting changed, let the child touch the various items used - the new change of clothes, the diaper, the changing mat, the wet wipe etc.
Another great opportunity is taking a trip to the supermarket. Plastic packaging has a smooth surface. A carrot has rough skin. The metal racks have a shiny surface - it’s a whole new world of sensory experiences!
The more exposure your child has to various objects and environments, the more sensory stimulation. Sensory stimulation has been linked to emotional, cognitive and physical development.
Let’s go for a walk!
Bringing children out to explore the environment is something most caregivers automatically do, but how to engage the child meaningfully?
Try out different walking surfaces! Walk on the pavement (hard), then walk on grass (soft). Walk up slopes, or on an elevated surface (up) and walk down slopes or carry the child down to a lower elevation (down)
Feel the wall (smooth), feel rocky surfaces (rough), look for shiny surfaces (anything metal).
Listen for sounds (loud and soft), interact with the environment and listen to what sounds they make - knock hard and soft surfaces, tap them, etc.
Sticker / Glue Time!
For those aged 1 yo and above, 3D stickers are a great sensory tool. Gradually progress to flat stickers, which require more control over fine motor skills to peel and stick.
Music & Movement
It’s great to have a speaker that can connect via bluetooth to turn on music. Spotify has a few baby friendly playlists!
Sitting, crawling, pulling, pushing, reaching, rolling!
- Children love songs and incorporating movement can help them develop better body and spatial awareness.
- E.g. sing Row, Row, Row your boat while rocking baby in the rocking chair / yaolan .. when the baby is older and can sit independently, sit the baby on your lap and move the baby’s body forward and backwards to imitate the rolling motion.
Baby Massage time
- Baby massage stimulates the senses of various body parts. Incorporating music can make it a fun and memorable activity.
- Use different objects to make sounds! Rattles, maracas, green beans or rice in a tupperware, spoon on a shoebox.. The possibilities are endless!
- Let’s use our body parts to make sounds! Stomp your feet, clap your hands, sing aaahhhh, sing ooooh, ooooo, eeeee - these are great ways for your child to learn more about his or her body and experimenting with sounds enhances speech development.
Shapes and colours!
Shape and colour recognition teaches children how to sort, organise, compare and identify, as well as reinforce the concept of associating visual cues with words.
- Recognising shapes is a precursor to writing the alphabet. Learning how to identify shapes establishes a link between visual cues and language.
- Draw shapes and match these shapes to various objects around the house - e.g. a shoe box, a block, a stool, a pencilbox..
- Draw a shape with a thick outline, then encourage your child to scribble, paste stickers or colour within the outline. This helps with spatial awareness.
- For age 1 and up, encourage your child to form shapes with his or her body, or hands. This again reinforces spatial and body awareness.
- Colour recognition kicks in at around 18 months (babies are actually born colourblind; and gradually develop the ability to see colour from four months old).
- Get post-its of basic colours and run around the house matching them with various objects! Start with just one colour. At the same time, we can count how many objects of the same colour we have together!
- Play with cellophane! Paste it at the end of a toilet roll and let your child be amazed at how the world changes - or paste it on the window to see how the sunlight changes colour! The same can be done using food colouring diluted with water, in ziploc bags.
- With a shoe box and some ice cream sticks (or random cardboard pieces) - paint or colour the ice cream sticks (the child can do this, messily), then make holes in the shoebox. Outline these holes with one colour each, corresponding to the colours of the ice cream sticks. Let the child drop the ice cream sticks in according to colour.
Roleplay and Fine Motor Skills
- Imaginative role play involves multiple cognitive links between the five senses.
E.g. we are in the zoo! Pretend to be different animals - a penguin waddles, lions and dogs walk on four legs, an elephant has a long trunk!
E.g. Let's be a baker! Let your child touch dough, poke it, pull it, push it, roll it - check out this simple playdough recipe here that just takes 10 minutes to prep!
- Prepare a simple sewing activity using cardboard, a hole puncher and a shoelace and let’s pretend to be a designer, or a doctor doing an operation!
- Get odd shaped objects - e.g. bottle caps, rolled up socks; and encourage your child to transfer them from one place to another. Make it a race! As your child gets older, you can get them to assist in simple household chores e.g. pushing the laundry to the washing machine, putting toys back in the box - handling odd shaped objects helps your child understand better how to hold and grasp things.
- Pretending to be mommy or daddy - your child will be naturally inclined to copy everything you do. Encourage it! Recycle old membership cards to make “new credit cards” for your child, cut out cardboard and stick numbers on it to make a fake handphone!
Note to Parents:
As simple as this list may seem, handing this to your caregiver can be very overwhelming. Moreover, repetition is key for infants aged 0-2. What we suggest is creating a schedule for caregivers instead, with just four activities, to be repeated in various ways, over the week.
An example is set out below:
Sing “Pat a Cake”
Pat baby tummy, and say “tummy”
Before eating, ask, are you hungry? Point at tummy.
Is it yummy? Rub the tummy.
Sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” - for infants above 1yo, ask them to open and close their fists
Practice the sound “ssssss” for “star”
Cut out a star shape and let the child feel the pointy tips of the star with their fingertips. Can we find any stars anywhere in the house?
Play with some star stickers!
Of course, this guide should always be flexible enough to allow your child to explore his or her interests - listen to your child, listen to caregivers and learn more about what he or she wants. This should give you an idea of your child’s interests, style of learning and strengths.