Extension Specialist, Family Life Education
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension
University of Massachusetts
Wonder, Investigation, Discovery . . . are three words to describe what happens when children grow in their knowledge of the world around them. As adults, we can encourage and aid this growth in many simple ways.
A keen sense of observation is essential for successful learning.
The following ideas will encourage children to use their senses
and help them develop confidence about the world around them.
Sound Containers: Teach children to listen closely and be able to identify sounds. You will need: small, securely covered containers that all look alike, such as metal or plastic film cans or medicine vials; colored contact paper if container is transparent; items to be identified, such as beans, sugar, paper clips, buttons, and macaroni. Cover containers if necessary. Fill a pair of containers with the same materials. Let the child shake the containers to distinguish and identify different sounds, and pair up containers that have the same sound.
Smell Jars: Teach children to observe and distinguish a variety of smells. You will need: small, non-breakable containers as described in sound containers; a variety of items that have a distinctive odor, such as coffee, cinnamon, rose petals, etc. Punch small holes in lids with a pointed instrument. Put a small amount of each item in separate containers. Children can try to identify each odor as well as match two of the same odor.
Taste Buds: Teach children to distinguish and appreciate a variety of flavors and textures in foods. You will need: a blindfold (or have children close eyes); different food samples - you may use all liquids or all fruits, etc. Give the child a small taste of each, one at a time. Ask if it is sweet, sour, salty, etc., and if they can identify the food.
There are so many things young children can learn as they help
you plant and tend an indoor garden. Even two- and three-year-olds
can begin to understand: Soil + Seed + Sun + Water = Plant
Encourage toddlers to use their senses to smell the soil and feel the warmth of the sun and the wetness of the water; watch the shoots come through the soil, and enjoy the beauty of the plants.
Place all plants in a sunny, warm area; try a south-facing window sill. Clear plastic containers with raised lids, like those some pies and cookies come in, make perfect miniature greenhouses. Fill an aluminum foil pan with potting soil, punch some holes in the bottom for drainage, and plant and water the seeds. Put the foil pan in a clear plastic container. The seeds sprout very quickly. Raise the lid occasionally to let excess moisture escape.
Use seeds and parts of the following fruits and vegetables to grow new plants:
Carrots: After trimming off the leaves, cut 1/2" to 1" off the top of the carrot. Place the top in a layer of pebbles in a flat dish. Be sure to keep well watered.
Pineapple: Cut off the top of the pineapple and trim off the bottom 3 rows of leaves. Let dry for 3 days. Plant 1" deep in soil. Keep moist and sunny.
Avocado: Set large end of an avocado seed in a jar of water, using three toothpicks. Sprout in partial sunlight. When the stem is about 4-5 inches tall, plant in soil.
Onion: Find an onion that is already sprouted. Plant in soil.
Many other items for investigation and discovery can be found in the hardware store. Little people love to use "the real thing" instead of toys.
FORMAT AVAILABLE:: Available only on the
DOCUMENT REVIEW:: Level 2 - University of Massachusetts Cooperative
DOCUMENT SIZE:: 9K or 2 pages
ENTRY DATE:: October 1995
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