Tag Archive for: sensory activities

Signs of Spring for Little Ones to Discover.

There’s no better time to start spotting the signs of the changing seasons with your children than whilst on the journey to nursery. Spring arrives on the 20th of March* each year in the UK and is a wonderful antidote to the cold winter months and short, dark evenings. It’s a time when you know warmer weather will soon be on its way. Evenings are getting slowly longer too. Best of all, a myriad of little miracles are starting to happen around you, as flowers and shrubs reawaken and plants can be seen shooting up from the ground. Many birds will also return to the UK from their foreign travels around springtime, often having travelled thousands of miles to get back to the UK. So, why not make your child’s journey to and from nursery a bit more exciting — and educational — by encouraging them to spot and identify some of these natural delights. Below are a few plants and creatures for children to keep an eye out for around the end of winter, signalling the welcome start of springtime …

Snowdrops in spring

Snowdrops

Snowdrops flower early in the year and quite literally look like little drops of snow. Like the crocus, which is shown in the main image at the top, snowdrops are one of the very first flowers to bloom in the first part of the year. When you see them first start to shoot and bloom, you and your children can be sure that spring is just around the corner. Soon there will be flowers, buds and shoots everywhere, as spring finally arrives and everything starts to reappear after the cold winter months. Children will be able to spot snowdrops often in small bunches of about 10 or so stems, in gardens, parks and wooded areas. They’re delightful little flowers, perfectly formed to visually appeal to little ones. Teach your child to admire them, but not pick them, as they are poisonous if consumed. In any case, they’ll be there for all to admire when left alone, so that they can grow and flourish. Learn more about snowdrops here.

Springtime daffodils in bloom

Spring Daffodils

There are many different types of daffodil for children to look out for.Daffodils are a classic sign of spring in the UK with their bright, blooming buds breaking through the gloominess of winter. Daffodils begin to grow and flower during the month of February and should be in full bloom throughout March and all the way into May.
On your walk to nursery with your children, perhaps ask them how many different types of daffodils they can see. Many people will be growing them in their gardens and in flower pots on balconies and windowsills. And, of course, many flourish in open countryside along hedgerows and often in shaded woodlands. See if your child can spot yellow, trumpet-like flowers, yellow petals with an orange inner, daffodils with white petals or the tiny daffodils called tête-à-tête. As with snowdrops, be aware that daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so it’s best to teach children not to pick them, which will also allow others to enjoy them as they pass. Where else to see daffodils.

A robin singing in early spring

Birdsong

Winter can be cold, dark and desolate. However, a sure sign that spring is on the way is birdsong. As the mornings get lighter, birdsong starts earlier. This can be made up of robins, blackbirds, wrens and other birds native to the United Kingdom. The beauty of such sounds is often overlooked, so when you first step out of your door on the way to nursery, get your children to stand still for fifteen or twenty seconds to listen to the birds, counting how many they can hear if they are able to. Even better; see if they can gradually work out what type of bird is making each of the sounds. Visiting the RSPB’s interactive birdsong identifier is a fabulous place for children to start learning about this wonder of nature.

A bumblebee on pussy willow

Bees

Bees are incredibly important for pollinating plants across the world. They’re also incredibly cute — especially bumblebees! As spring begins and flowers start to blossom again, the UK sees an increase in the number of bees in gardens and the countryside. This increase continues throughout the summer and autumn. On your walk to nursery throughout spring, you and your little ones may see Tree Bumblebees, which can be easily spotted by their distinct colouring. Whilst a regular garden bumblebee has bright yellow areas, a Tree Bumblebee has a tawny head and upper body, a black lower body, and a white tip/tail.

It’s important to teach little ones that bees are friendly when left in peace (many do not even have stings) and must be protected in order to keep ecosystems functioning and growing. And, of course, they should be protected and nurtured because they’re simply adorable little creatures. Learn more about bees here.

Tadpoles

Frog Spawn & Tadpoles

Frog spawn.If you live near a park with a pond or happen to have one in the back garden, a definite sign of spring arriving is the presence of frog spawn. Initially, this can look like hundreds of little black dots sitting on the surface of the water. If your little one keeps an eye on these over the course of March (under supervision, for safety, of course), they will see these dots gradually turn into tadpoles, which will get bigger and bigger. A fun activity for your children is to get them to look at the frogspawn twice a week, under supervision, and to draw it on a piece of paper. Then, once the tadpoles have turned into frogs, they can look back at their own artwork to see the journey of spawn to fully-fledged frog! Alternatively, if your children aren’t at drawing age, you can take a photo on your phone each week and then compare them together once the tadpoles have grown. It’s a great way for them to learn about nature and life itself.

Pussy willow buds

Budding Trees

A very easy-to-spot sign of spring is buds on trees. Buds are often growing flowers or leaves which will come into bloom across spring and summer. Whilst on your walk to nursery, get your children to look up at any trees that you pass to see if there are any buds on the branches. If there are, a fun challenge could be to check that same tree every week and count how many weeks it takes to bloom. There are some very interesting buds and blooms for children to look out for, for example catkins, which have dangling yellow fronds and pussy willow, which has beautifully soft ‘fur’ on its buds. Indeed, the soft hairs are there to protect and insulate the buds from cold, since they bloom so early in the year. Many people liken the soft pussy willow buds to tiny cats’ paws. Both varieties are sure to delight and fascinate young children!

Yellow catkins

The above signs of spring are just a few that you can spot whilst on your journey to nursery or pre-school. Learning about and appreciating nature are excellent ways of enriching the lives of your children and may spark an interest in wildlife and plants as they grow up. Nature will teach them so much and benefit them in so many ways — educationally, cognitively and spiritually.

Nature & Forest School at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston

We run our own Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham.As well as being a fun place to be, the outdoors will give children a sense of adventure.Children learn about and enjoy nature at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. As well as having our own seed, herb, plant and vegetable area for the children to enjoy and learn from, we have our own Forest School in Edgbaston near Birmingham. There, children are able to spend time in natural open spaces like woodlands, where they will learn and benefit from nature in so many ways. As well as being educational, spending time in a natural environment is very good for children, as many studies have shown.

Nursery & Pre-School Places in Edgbaston, near Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood & Harborne B16Are you looking for a good nursery or pre-school place for your baby, toddler or child under five in Edgbaston or near Birmingham? Get in touch with us, if so, and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around, so you can see how well they will fit in. We support all Government-funded places, including their ‘free hours’ schemes for eligible children aged 2 to 4. We’re also located near Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick, so may be conveniently located if you live or work in any of those places nearby. Please choose a button below to get started:

* Spring starts on 20th March according to the astronomical calendar. There are other definitions of the start of spring, but the astronomical calendar is the most commonly recognised by the general public. In contrast, the meteorological calendar, for example, has the seasons starting on the first of the month in March, June, September and December, rather than 20 or more days in.

Sensory Activities for Preschoolers
Sensory activities are incredibly important in early years learning and development.Following last month’s sensory activities for babies and toddlers article, we now take a look at a selection of sensory activities for preschoolers. Sensory activities are incredibly important in early years learning and development. In short, they help children develop their senses so their brains and bodies can make sense of all the stimuli around them. As well as helping them to understand their physical place within the world and everything in it, good sensory perception keeps them safe and allows them to interact optimally with everything around them. Through the building of new neural pathways in the brain, sensory activities aid communication, learning, sustenance, coordination, balance, motor function, movement and much more. Such skills are indeed critical to their very survival and success. With that in mind, we look at some examples of sensory play activities that are perfect for preschoolers, below. These are suitable at home as well as at pre-school (always under adult supervision, of course) …

Sensory Play Activities for Preschoolers

Colour Shakers & Sound Shakers

Coloured beads or glitter will make sound or colour shakers even more fun!Recycled, clear plastic bottles can be made into colour or sound shakers really easily. For colour shakers, they can be filled with water and then food colouring can be added. Adding glitter or coloured beads makes it even more interesting! Children can experiment with mixing different colours, shaking or swirling them around in the bottles to see all the wonderful, visual results.

Similarly, for sound shakers, children can instead fill bottles with dried pasta shapes, uncooked rice grains or breakfast cereals that then make different sounds when shaken around.

Children can experiment, creatively, with colour and and/or sound in this way, stimulating vision, hearing, touch and coordination. They could even compose their own rhythms, adding ‘drums’ and suchlike by using, for example, wooden spoons as drumsticks and empty cartons or boxes as ‘drums’. In addition to the sensory benefits, these types of activity are a great way to teach children about recycling and repurposing something that would otherwise be discarded.

Paint & Pigment Play

Messy play Messy play with paint and pigments is wonderful for children's senses.with paint and pigments is wonderful for children’s senses, particularly those of touch and sight, but also potentially sound too. Allowing children to get really ‘hands-on’ with paint will stimulate their creative juices too. They can really let go of inhibitions if you allow them. They’ll love to get really messy with squelching paint, mixing colours with hands and even feet, mark-making with fingers or through handprints and footprints. They’ll get to grips with the way that colours mix and form new colours and tones. They’ll learn about the different feel of paints that are diluted or have a thicker consistency. They’ll even learn about the different textures that their fingertips can feel as the paint goes from wet and fluid to solid and dry. While adults take these things in their stride, we all had to learn about such things when we were little and messy play activities are a great opportunity to do so.

Creative Food

Playing with food as part of a sensory activity can offer useful learning opportunities.While it’s not usually a good idea to encourage children to play with food, doing so as part of a sensory activity can offer a useful learning opportunity and is great fun for them if supervised appropriately. The key is to ensure they understand that this is a learning activity, not a meal time, in this particular scenario. Activities can include making faces and other images out of their food (broccoli for trees and so on) as well as combining different food textures, colours and tastes together in creative ways. They’ll enjoy the hands-on nature of this activity as well as honing sensory skills like touch, taste, smell and visual senses. Fine motor skills will also benefit. At the end of the activity, and assuming hygiene has been suitably good, they can even eat the results! As well as being good from a creative and sensory standpoint, food creativity may even encourage them to try different foods, tastes and food textures — great for fussy eaters!

Sand Play

Playing with sand is always a massive hit with children, particularly in their early years.Playing with sand is always a massive hit with children, particularly in their early years. A sandpit, sand table or visit to a sandy beach will give preschoolers wonderful play opportunities with this fascinating, natural material. Through hands-on play, they’ll get to enjoy and learn from the different textures, consistencies and states that are possible when sand is dry, moist or even runny through mixing it with water. Building of sandcastles is, of course, a natural progression, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s possible when playing with sand. Sandcastles using pre-shaped buckets are all very well. However, the magical and organic-looking sand ‘mountains’ that can be made through running extremely wet sand through the hands is on another level. Sand is so adaptable and the list of multi-sensory play activities using it is only limited by a child’s imagination. With sand, they play and learn in an almost effortless way.

Playing with Dough

With dough, you can add rich colour stimulation into the sensory mix.Playing with dough offers similar opportunities for sensory and creative discovery. With dough, though, you can add rich colour stimulation into the mix. Whether shop-bought, or home-made with salt dough and food colouring, playing with dough is always a huge hit with children. It stimulates the mind and the senses in so many ways. Touch, sight, and even smell are the more obvious senses that are stimulated, but vestibular (movement) and proprioception (body position) are also potentially stimulated and enhanced through dough play. It’s highly creative too, of course, with opportunities to form sculptures, animals, characters and anything a child can imagine. Some types can even be baked (under adult supervision), so they harden. Then, children have created their very own toys!

Sensory Gardens

If you have a garden, allotment, balcony or windowsill, making a sensory garden is a wonderful activity for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds.If you have a garden, allotment, balcony or windowsill, making a sensory garden is a wonderful sensory activity for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds. Preschoolers will have real fun planting seeds, herbs, scented flowers and suchlike, then watching them grow. This can be quite a creative process too. Once they’ve grown, the children then get to enjoy all the wonderful smells, textures and colours too. If you are growing herbs with your child, even their taste senses will be in for a treat. Sensory gardens are a real feast for the senses, stimulating touch, coordination, balance and body awareness during the building phase then smell, sight, touch and potentially taste once complete. (Close supervision is essential, of course, particularly in regard to avoiding any poisonous or toxic plants).

Nature

Time spent in the countryside, immersed in nature, is the ultimate sensory experience for children.Taking this a step further, time spent in the countryside, immersed in nature, is the ultimate sensory experience for children. Spending time in the natural world with your child teaches them so much and stimulates potentially all the senses — sight, touch, smell, hearing, vestibular (the movement sense) and proprioception (the sense of body position). Even taste may be stimulated if some safe, edible vegetables or fruits are discovered. (Learn more about the benefits of nature to children here and learn more about our Birmingham Forest School here).

Sensory Play at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston

Our Edgbaston nursery provides a huge variety of sensory play equipment and multi-sensory activities, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.We understand the profound importance of sensory play at Leaps & Bounds Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. As such, we provide a huge variety of sensory play equipment and multi-sensory activities at the setting, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Discovery and learning through the senses helps little ones develop in so many ways. For example, aiding physical development, mobility, cognitive skills, motor skills, coordination and, not least, their understanding of the world and their safe place within it. We hope that the examples of sensory activities above help parents or guardians with a few ideas for continuation of this learning journey at home.

Childcare & Nursery Places in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.Are you looking for good nurseries and pre-schools in Birmingham or Edgbaston? Or perhaps you need a childcare nursery near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick or the B16 area? If so, please consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We’re a high quality childcare nursery and pre-school based in Gillott Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham (B16 0ET). Please click a button below to make contact and we’ll be happy to tell you more or to show you and your little one around …

Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers
Sensory play ideas to help babies and toddlers during early learning and development.In our last post, we examined the importance of sensory perception in under-fives. It was clear how incredibly important such sensory perception is for young children and how their very survival relies on being in touch with their senses. Through these senses, they learn about the world and everything around them. This also trains their bodies and brains to recognise the stimuli and automatically react. It helps them to know what’s good or bad for them, keep themselves safe and be able to live and communicate successfully in the world. With that background in mind, we follow up today with a look at some examples of sensory play activities that can help babies and toddlers during their early learning and development.

SAFETY FIRST: Always supervise your baby or child, so they don’t hurt themselves, touch or ingest anything that could harm them.

Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers

Bubbles are a feast for the sensesBubbles

Watching colourful bubbles floating in the air is sure to be a big hit with babies and toddlers alike. You can almost see the sense of wonder in their expressions as they watch them float. To them, bubbles are magical as they hang in the air with their wonderful rainbow colours gently moving around on the surfaces. Babies will be even more delighted when a bubble lands on their skin. They’re a feast for sight as well as touch at the moment the bubble lands and delicately bursts.

Sensory Foil

Sensory foil is a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of sounds that they find fascinating.There is a type of safe sensory foil blanket on the market that you can buy for babies. It’s been a massive hit with babies and makes a variety of different sounds that totally intrigue them. What’s more, it doesn’t have the sharp edges associated with some types of paper. Babies can simply lie and roll around on the foil blanket to enjoy the sounds, or scrunch them with their hands to have more control or to hear louder sounds. It’s a great way for them to hone their hand-eye control, fine motor and listening skills. They’re also great visually, particularly if there are any coloured lights or objects in the room that will reflect on the foil in magical ways. Generally speaking, babies are mesmerised by sensory foil, so give it a try if you haven’t done so.

Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze 'pods'.Scents

Parents can introduce babies to a variety of pleasant natural scents by securing things like herbs or lemon peel in muslin or gauze ‘pods’ (see photo example). Simply waft near your baby’s nose to let them enjoy the wonderful smell of lemon, mint leaves, and so on. Be mindful of possible pollen allergies and toxins, though, so do your safety research on any contents before exposing your baby to them.

Black & White/High Contrast Cards & Books

Black & white images will allow young babies to see and recognise shapes more clearly as well as synchronise those images in both eyes together.Did you know that high contrast images are great for young babies? That’s because lower contrast images, especially pastels, may be lost on them as their eyesight isn’t yet fully developed. Also, with relatively poor eyesight and eye coordination when they’re first born, high contrast black and white images will help babies to match the images they perceive in one eye with the same image in the other.

Babies will not recognise the full spectrum of colours that we see as adults until around five months of age. That’s another reason books or cards containing images in high contrast black and white are becoming more popular in recent times for this age group. They allow infants to see and recognise shapes more clearly than lower-contrast alternatives as well as having the aforementioned eye/image coordination benefit. This visual sensory stimulation is also thought to help their brain synapses to develop faster in a kind of beneficial ‘feedback loop’.

Sound Activities

Babies and toddlers will enjoy — and benefit from — sound-making.Babies and toddlers will enjoy — and benefit from — sound-making. This type of activity will allow them to experiment with different ways to make sounds, stimulating auditory senses as well as helping them to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It’ll also help them to understand cause and effect more clearly, i.e. to associate sounds they’re making with their causes.

In the most simple approach, babies and toddlers can use something like a building block as a ‘drum’ and a wooden spoon as a ‘drumstick’ and gradually learn to tap away. Babies aren’t born with great coordination, so this is a good first step to give them more control over limbs. Taking it a step further, a responsible adult can make them sound shakers by half-filling clean plastic bottles with dried rice, pasta or similar and then sealing securely. Once safely sealed, babies and toddlers can have fun shaking them to hear the different sounds that can be made through their own actions. Such sensory activities will help them learn in so many ways, both in terms of physical skills and coordination as well as making new brain connections and associations.

Different Materials & Textures

Your baby can also be introduced to different materials and textures like this feather example.Your baby or infant can also be introduced to different materials and textures (suitably supervised for safety, of course, and any choking hazards avoided). Whether it’s a piece of velvet, faux fur or a feather, babies and toddlers will be very intrigued by the look and feel. So, think about introducing them to a variety of materials, both man-made and natural, that perhaps contrast each other so the child can learn how to connect the look of something to the feel of it. These are basic skills, but ones we each had to learn at a very early age.

Food

Once your baby or toddler has been weaned onto solids (e.g. as purée or liquidised foods), they can explore different tastes and food textures. They may be more likely to do so if you give them a spoon, so they can learn to control which food they taste, perhaps from a variety of options that you have prepared for them to try. When they’re suitably dextrous, a variety of finger foods can also be given to them to try. Take precautions, of course, in regard to possible allergens, so choose food types with caution and do your research.

In these ways, various senses will be stimulated in new ways and fine motor skills will improve. Also, exposing them to a variety of different foods and tastes early may give them a broader set of food preferences once they’re older i.e. potentially make them less likely to become fussy eaters.

Nature

Babies and toddlers find nature simply wondrous.Babies and toddlers find nature simply wondrous. There’s something amazing to see, hear, smell, touch and feel everywhere (under close adult supervision, of course). Flowers, with their scents and beautiful colours, will amaze them. Or, have you ever noticed the different smells after it rains, or the warm breeze brush past your face on a sunny day? These will all be new to babies and a feast for the senses. Indeed, nature is the ultimate tool for sensory awakening for babies and toddlers. That’s one of the many reasons that Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is also a Forest School (learn more about our Edgbaston/Birmingham Forest School here).

Sensory Activities at Leaps & Bounds Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16

Leaps & Bounds Nursery is rated as a Good Provider of childcare by Ofsted.At Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, we fully understand the importance of sensory play, so build sensory-based activities into the learning and development plan for every child. Each child has access to multi-sensory play equipment and we even have a sensory zone. Stimulation of senses at this early age does so much to help in early years development. It helps integrate a comprehensive view of the world into children’s very beings and reinforces their safe place within it. It helps to build new pathways in the brain and vastly improves cognitive skills. It aids physical development including coordination and motor skills and so much more. We hope some of the sensory discovery ideas above are useful for parents/guardians to use as part of their child’s home learning activities. Next time we’ll look at sensory activities for preschoolers.

Nursery Places in Edgbaston/Birmingham

For more information about a nursery place at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, please get in touch. We’re a high quality nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick.