There are a lot of awesome ideas out there for helping toddlers and preschoolers explore their five senses. I decided to start with exploring the sense of touch with my daughter. Although we rarely use our senses totally independent of each other, I thought it would be helpful to give her some experiences that focus on each sense and give us some more context for talking about our experiences to come.
I started with some great Pinterest boards and compiled one of my own. I love Pinterest. The ideas are beautifully compiled and inspire me to be a super-mom. But the reality is that I just want some materials that are quick to pull together or already a part of my daily life. I am not going to spend hours crafting an experience for my kid that meets the rigorous aesthetic standards of most Pinterest posters . You are reading the blog of a person who, before having a child, would pour a bowl of cereal and call it dinner. Now, out of a sense of providing a more balanced diet, I cut up pieces of cheese and serve it with apple slices and crackers. This is the person you’re dealing with here, Pinterest.
So let’s explore the sense of touch with stuff already in the house or easy and cheap to purchase. And let’s incorporate it into what we’re already doing and spend more time doing and less time prepping. Maybe I can slightly tweak our daily experiences so that they draw her attention to what she is touching and how she might describe it or even categorize it. I can carefully choose words to describe the texture of different items to help her build the vocabulary she can access when making observations.
This week we touched a lot of stuff and talked a lot about it. I realized there are tons of things in the pantry just waiting to be felt and discussed. My daughter helped me mash a banana and plop cookie dough on a tray. We pulled out dry rice noodles, played with netted packaging, and stuck our (recently washed) hands into the oatmeal container.
Finger paints were a huge hit, no fancy canvas required. I just cut open a paper bag and she was an artist. We talked about how they felt cold, slimy, wet, and….fun? OK, so what qualifies as a texture word is still a work in progress. But that’s alright! She’s not quite two and the goal, remember, is exposure to build up that background knowledge and experience.
As I carried her up to the tub, I remembered my mom saying how she used to spray shaving cream on the shower wall for us to play in. This is what I’m talking about! Hardly a step outside of what was going to happen anyway (a shower to remove the paint from her hair, face, and….well, everywhere). But just keeping in mind, hey, I want my daughter to have access to lots of textures this week helped me to recall that spraying shaving cream on the shower wall was not only possible, but an easy and fun way to feel something new.
What really surprised me during this week was that my adventurous, puddle stomping, dirt eating child was very hesitant about some new textures. She was totally not into the pillow stuffing and wouldn’t touch it after the first try. And the shaving cream was high interest but she would only put one finger in it at a time and only after I showed her how easy it was to wash off. I never forced her to touch anything she didn’t want to and when she was hesitant, I would often model one way to interact with a material just to get her started. It’s amazing getting to know a growing toddler and I can’t wait to see what else I learn about her!
My takeaways this week:
- Use materials already in your house.
- Keep your science goal in the back of your mind; opportunities to highlight your goal will present themselves in your daily routines.
- Think about the words you use and what your goal is when you describe experiences and materials.