Learning Through The Senses
By Katrina L. Cassel
Toddlers appear to be everywhere at once and into everything. One reason for this is that toddlers learn by using all five of their senses. Providing sensory experiences for your toddler will not only delight him, but also help him gain an understanding of the world around him.
Your toddler sees things around her, but if there is a lot going on at once she doesn’t focus on individual things yet. Next time you take a walk, point out the bird in the tree, the ant crawling on the sidewalk, the dog running and the boy on a bicycle.
Read books with simple pictures and ask your child to point to the dog or boy. Encourage him to use the pictures for clues to what the story is about.
Help your child focus on everyday sounds such as running water, the washing machine, a siren, a dog barking, footsteps, the doorbell and the kitchen timer.
Play a variety of music for your child to listen to and encourage her to make her own music by tapping on a pan with a spoon, shaking a can filled with dry beans or tapping two sticks together.
Help your toddler’s budding sense of smell by sniffing around the house. Smell the fresh laundry, spaghetti sauce, flowers, spices, perfume, onion and autumn leaves. Have your child close her eyes. Hold an object such as an onion or flower where she can smell it and have her identify the object without looking.
Encourage your toddler to taste a variety of food. Cut up bananas, apples, lemons, cheese, bread, meats, carrots, celery and hard-boiled eggs. Place small amounts on a plate and allow your toddler to pick and choose. Help him identify taste and texture, such as a sweet, crunchy apple, mushy banana, crispy carrot, sour lemon and so on. Introduce new words such as sweet, sour, soft, mushy, crispy, crunchy, smooth, juicy, hard and bitter. Encourage, your child to taste the items. Help your child distinguish between things that are edible and things that are not for their little mouths.
Toddlers learn a lot about their world by using their fingers. Create a touch box. Save scraps of materials, sand paper, pipe cleaners, cotton and carpet. Introduce words such as scratchy, smooth, rough, hard and soft as your child touches the materials.
Your toddler learns through his senses, but too much input can overwhelm him at once. Allow him to make discoveries on his own. All they learn about the world through their hands and other senses will thrill your toddler.