Students often ask me for list of infant learning experiences they could use on placements. This post is dedicated to students that are seeking to be inspired, take risks and dive deeper into learning experiences for infants.
“Absolutely everything is something to explore and wonder at when experiencing it for the first time!”
To get you started, take a look at some of the inspirational work I’ve collected from various childcare programs (Source: Tinker Tots Discovery Atelier). I am in awe at such professionalism, care that has gone into thoughtfully and intentionally planning activities for infants.
I hope that you feel as inspired as I was by the beautiful work of the educators.
In Reggio thinking there is a belief that the environment is the “third teacher” and that it is crucial to provide children with plenty of natural light, space for movement, stimulation and access to open-ended play resources. For babies and young children it is important that these are highly tactile and varied so that they can investigate them using their primary way of interacting with the world; the senses.
I am continually moved to create play spaces for infants inspired by Reggio principles, that encourage independent play, interaction with stimulating materials and curiosity about the world.
As educators we set out play objects purposefully and deliberately and give children loads of time and space to explore and experiment we are respecting children’s play urges, and giving them the opportunity to grow in self mastery.
So MUCH POTENTIAL FOR: gathering, dumping, transporting, mixing, rolling, posting and more in these simple ideas. All that from cardboard tubes, paper carry bags and tissue boxes! Who’d have thought?
Safe tastes, hands on exploring and tactile investigating
Play together to increase the opportunities for sharing and communicating as they explore and make this a special bonding time! Remember, infants attention spans are not long at this stage and that is fine. A few minutes of one of these ideas per day is plenty, and come back to revisit them often as repetition is what leads to familiarity and building on learning skills later.
Exploring fabric and textures. A beautiful set-up in an infant 🚼classroom, to promote exploration and 💭problem solving.
Tip: Rotate often to keep baby interested
Infants tend to focus the most on high contrast images, particularly black on white and white on black, followed by bright, complementary colours.
So now that you have planned a mini infant provocation … what comes next?
I have put together some of my favourite tips for talking with babies/toddlers and engaging in high-quality back-and-forth interactions.
- Move to the child’s level and make eye contact.
- Mirror the child’s tone. For example, if the child is smiling and happy, use a happy, upbeat tone of voice.
- Use Parent-ese! Parent-ese is a type of adult speech where an adult talks to a child in an exaggerated, animated, and repetitive way. Babies and toddlers get excited when they are spoken to in fun and interesting ways. Parent-ese captures babies’ attention and can help them learn.
- Comment! Comment about everything in the baby’s environment, such as their actions and other people’s actions, objects, toys, foods, activities, and daily events.
- Label! Babies and toddlers are learning to match words with different things in their world. Labeling at every opportunity helps babies and toddlers learn new words and understand their meaning.
- Point and look at objects when describing them for babies/toddlers. Make sure the baby/toddler looks at who or what you are pointing to.
- Follow the child’s lead and talk about it! Identify what the child is looking at, playing with, holding, doing, or interested in.
- Have conversations! Some babies and toddlers may not have words yet, but they still communicate in their own “baby language”. This is usually in the form of babbles, coos, laughter, smiles, looks, and gestures. Talk to them and reply to their “baby language”. That is called a “back-and-forth conversation”- baby style!
As always, never leave infants unattended when playing with any of these ideas.