Getting kids in touch with their environment sometimes has to be literally getting them in touch with their environment. For very young children, learning is a tactile experience, as any parent of a two year-old knows. Encourage this need to touch and feel in positive ways that will help them grow and build in them a need to explore with all their senses, not just the ones tuned into the TV.
This article explains four activities for ages one to five that will encourages kids to explore and learn.
For you little ones who are still putting things in their mouths, have a “large” sensory table, which can be tubs or bowls filled with non-toxic, but fun to touch things. Have a couple of large stones (too big to fit in little mouths) that are smooth to the touch, hard and heavy. Give them the words to describe them. Fill another bowl with pieces of soft fabric of various types, scraps that can be scratchy and soft, smooth and bumpy and again give them words to describe them. Have some crinkley paper that makes some noise, or some pieces of wool. For the very brave, fill a bowl full of water or pudding and watch them splash and squish (might want to do that one outside). Large sea shells are also great tactile experiences full of different textures. Be creative and look around your house for different experiences, just remember to be safe.
For slightly older preschool age kids, have a texture bag full of interesting things to hold and touch and have the children guess what they are. Pick out small things like rocks, pinecones, acorns, pieces of wool or string-just have a variety. This game is a blast one-on-one or for a group to play. They can be so creative with their answers!
For children of pre-school age or kindergarten make some texture rubbings. This is so easy and so much fun. Using a piece of white typing paper and the side of a crayon with the paper removed, find ‘bumpy’ stuff-like the bottom of a shoe and make a rubbing of it. Have the children look around the house or class room and try to make rubbings of the things they find-the walls, the floor, toys, their friends-encourage them to explore and quiz them on successes as well as mistakes. Why did that one show up so well and not that one? What new things did you discover about your environment? Put many different textures and colors on the same piece of paper-you will all be amazed at how beautiful it turns out!
Leaf Rubbings. Okay, if your child or group had fun with number three, they are going to love number four. This is fun in the fall particularly, but can be done at any time of the year as long as there are leaves to be had. Go out with a basket or bag and collect some leaves of various types and sizes. Have the children examine them with their fingers but closing their eyes and giving an impression of what they feel. Ask them what they think will be there before and what they felt after and discuss briefly, then break out the crayons to immortalize the leaf. Carefully hold the leaf under the paper (some younger or less coordinated kids might need some help with this), and using the side of an unwrapped crayon make a rubbing of the leaf. Encourage the children to use many different colors and leaves and to make the rubbings all over the paper. If you have a pretty good group who seem to be engaged you can add some water color washes and watch true magic as the waxy crayon pushes the water away. These will be works of art that you will want to save for years to come.
What ever you choose to do, let your children explore with all their senses, and watch their world expand.
Other stuff by me:
- How to Make Walnut Ink
- Green Activities for Kids to do Outside
- Oh God: Conversations with Children About Religion in a Public School Setting
- Weaving for the Non-Weavers: Large and Small
Published in: Family