A love and appreciation for learning begins at an early age. By introducing basic concepts and ideas for multiple subjects to your children as early as in their infancy, you can foster a positive relationship with learning. This relationship can go on to influence how your children will respond and engage with not only education, but their own developing interests. It's important to not only introduce these concepts, but to do so in a way that is fun and engaging for the children. We have put together a list of some entertaining activities for your infants, that are not only fun, but can help with their educational development.
1. water play - "ocean fun"
In this activity, infants will explore their own miniature versions of an ocean. Start with a medium sized container. We recommend a square or rectangle shaped plastic bin or a disposable aluminium foil container. Fill it up with water about halfway. You can also make a barrier, and fill one side with sand and the other with water. Add seashells, small sea creature toys (either plastic or rubber), and other sea themed objects such as plants, boats etc. You can let your children explore each item within the water.
"Goodnight Ocean" by Mark Jasper
In this bright and colorful book, join the adventure as we are introduced to many sea creatures, and marine life. Children explore the ins and outs of different oceans, and what they offer in terms of environments, fish and animals, and other sea wonders.
2. sensory bottle
For this activity you can make your own sensory bottles for your infants. You can fill these bottles with various items that can stimulate the senses. This can include glitter, fuzzy cotton balls, paint and beads. Make multiple to keep your infant entertained and amazed.
Things you will need:
small plastic bottles or jars (with lids)
small rubber balls or beads
Start off by deciding what items you want to include in your bottle. We recommend focusing on items that can stimulate your infant's touch, sight, and hearing senses. Gather bright and colorful eye catching items that can easily fit in your bottle. This can include beads, rubber balls, glitter and buttons. For touch, include items that are easily squishy and textured. Make sure the type of bottles or jars you use is a soft plastic, that your infant will have no problem manipulating with their fingers and hands. For their hearing senses, find items that make a decent amount of noise, whether its a bottle with half beads, or small bells, or even something that crunches. Once you have picked out all your items, you can fill your bottles as you see fit. We recommended adding a bit of water to bottles with smaller items, so that they can move around, causing your infant to follow them with their eyes. Once you are finished, make sure you tightly seal the bottles, in a way that none of the items are able to come out. With this, your infant now has sensory bottles that they can play and interact with, as well as help them build on their senses and improve motor development.
Peak-a-boo is a simple activity that is as easy as it is stimulating. When playing this game, your infant develops an important skill called object permanence. This is an understanding that objects continue to exist even when they are not perceived by any of your senses. This helps in developing your infants' ability to understand their environment, process visual information and create expectations in the world around them. All you will need for this activity, is different sized objects, (or your hands) to hide with. If you are using your hands, hold them up to your face, opening and closing them as if they were a gate. Be aware of how your infant reacts to seeing your face, and when your face is hidden. Whenever you reveal your face, say peak-a-boo! Your infant may be confused at first, but over time they should have a bubbly reaction. If you are using objects, you can use them in the same way, and even try hiding them and guiding your infant to try to find them. When they do, congratulate them. This can help in showing your infant that the object isn't gone forever, and can also lead to positive sharing habits as they get older.
4. ASL - communication
For this activity, you and your infant can practice basic ASL words and terms, that can later on help benefit and promote language development. By using ASL, infants can learn to better communicate their wants and needs. It can also be beneficial for the parent as well, and give both you and your infant a better understanding and communication skills. Start off by making a list of all the words that can help you and your infant. Try to keep the words basic, such as "bottle", "eat" "stop" and "more". Practice signing the words, and then look for examples. When you have the signs down, try signing them with your infant. Keep signing them whenever the situation arises, such as when you are feeding them and handling the bottle as you sign "bottle". Try to guide them to sign the words as well. This will become easier the more your infant builds on their fine motor skills. Don't forget to continuously practice each word, and praising them when they make attempts.
5. Baby food painting
In this activity let your infant get as messy as they want, while they explore and paint with baby food. Something as simple as eating, can be a great opportunity for a sensory activity. Let your infant explore as they eat and make a "creative" mess.
Things you will need:
-Baby food (we recommend squeezable packets that is easier to manipulate)
-bowls for the food
Start off by putting a small portion of food into about 2 to 3 different bowls. Lay out some construction paper, then have your infant practice putting their hands and fingers into the bowls and pressing them into the paper making different images. Many infants, will be curious about the different textures, and how they can play with them. Although this activity is simple and fun, it has many benefits. This activity is helpful in promoting hand eye coordination, as well having your infant develop a sense of feeding oneself. As they explore their food, they can start to gain a sense of their own hands and face, and how to get food from one to the other. By having them "paint" with their food, they work on skills such as grasping, pinching, grabbing and moving their arms.