Four Senses Sensory Fun

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Today, Veronika and I engaged nearly all five of her senses with easy games. Can you spot which sense we missed?

Touch:

Instead of presenting Veronika with something to feel in her hands, it was time to kick with her feet! Tape a piece of tissue paper up on a wall, and lie your baby comfortably on his or her back.

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Baby won’t need any instruction before kicking away!

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Veronika seemed startled by the different position, but soon was busily kicking her feet. This one is also great for the sense of hearing, since the tissue makes fantastic crinkles.

And okay, she wanted to have at the tissue with her hands once upright.

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Sight:

To make a sight sensory bottle, I filled an empty water bottle with bold visuals: cut up plastic straws and bright pieces of Lego fit the bill.

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Fill until about 3/4 full with water. You can twist on the cap securely, or hot glue for added safety.

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Veronika loved rolling this one along the ground!

Sound:

To make a sound sensory bottle, I chose clickity clackaty items. Dried “little ears” pasta were perfect (though the double-meaning was lost on Veronika), as were plastic craft beads and a few buttons. Dried rice or beans would work well too!

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This one she loved shaking, especially if I sang a few lines of a favorite melody.

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Smell:

Break out the tea bags! I presented Veronika with an assortment of tea, all quite strongly scented: peppermint, chamomile, raspberry (or any other fruity blend) and ginger all fit the bill.

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Be careful, because her inclination was to grab the bags and taste, but I made sure these only made it as far as her nose.

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Some she seemed to enjoy, and others got a very confused reaction!

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So which sense did we forget? No tasting this time around!

Sense with Me Panda Crate

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It’s finally here! After purchasing Veronika the three-month newborn Cricket Crate pack from Kiwi Co., I assumed I would follow up with a subscription to what was then called Tadpole Crate. As it turns out, the company was rejiggering a few things. Tadpole Crate existed, but not for babies as young as Veronika, with a hint of the product hitting stores by late 2019.

At long last, Panda Crate is here, designed for birth-through-2-years (Tadpole and Cricket have both been retired). I said Veronika was only four months old so she could pick up where she left off. That means the toys that arrived in her inaugural kit are meant for a four-month-old, not a ten-month-old, but I’m a completest!

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Sense with Me is all about the senses, perfect for babies who are rapidly developing them. We went through the six included toys first. Again, Veronika is “old” for these, but all of the toys have potential to grow with your child.

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One: Transfer Discs

Designed to help a baby learn to transfer objects hand-to-hand, that skill is old-hat for Veronika. But she loved the black-and-white visual of the toy and the smooth feeling.

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Even better, when tapped along the floor, the transfer disc wiggles and rolls. She chased it around her whole playroom this way!

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I also had her hold the discs, then drop them to pick up a second object, another skill she mastered ages ago but good for review.

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Two: Knot Ball

This engaging, cushy ball is designed for babies to grasp in multiple ways, and has a bell inside that adds a delightful ring.

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Veronika had fun squishing it, and also liked feeling it on her toes.

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For younger babies, you can see if they can grasp one rope or track the sound of the bell inside. This one has instantly become a hit for car rides.

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Three: Soft Rattle Blocks

You can never have too many blocks in the playroom! These ones have several sensory benefits. Two of them crinkle and two jingle; Veronika is certainly not too old to enjoy both!

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I squished a crinkly on near her ear and then moved it far away, to encourage tracking the sound.

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Best of all for my crawler was stacking them and letting her have at the tower!

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The blocks also each feature a different shape and color, so I talked about those with Veronika as she played, a little early learning.

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Four: Teething Ring

Certainly we’re not out of the woods when it comes to teething, so this toy was definitely still pertinent for a ten-month-old! Veronika was less interested in it as a toy, but younger babies will love that the beads are soft and the wooden ring is hard.

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Better, though, was Panda’s suggestion to put the teething ring in the freezer; now we pop it out when she needs a good soothing!

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Five: Crinkle Tag Toy

This toy was novel, even if designed for babies who can’t sit up yet! She liked holding it on her tummy and having fun with its crinkly crunchy noises. There is a nice variety of textures, and a bold visual of Polly Panda on one side.

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You can also use the toy to take about cause-and-effect (“You made it crinkle!”) and textures.

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It’s great for placing just out of reach as a crawling game, too, and Veronika was definitely old enough for that one.

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Six: Bath Book

This one was a huge hit! The book features Polly Panda and the colors turn darker in water.

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That makes it perfect as a bathtime toy, but we also read the book when dry to talk about what was happening in the story. You can point to the cute pictures for vocabulary building, like “umbrella” and “backpack.” As a side note, I think our book contained an error, with the recto/verso not matching up on two pages!

Veronika was also old enough to set her up with a wet paintbrush so she could “paint” the colors onto the book.

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This was so fun that her big brother horned in on the activity!

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I finished with a read-thorough of the crate’s Wonder magazine, intended for parents (unlike Explore magazine from Kiwi Crate, intended for the kids). Much of the information was review to a veteran mom whose been through the four-month stage twice. But there was a Grow section describing sensory development; an informative Learn section on signs of teething; and a Play section with suggestions to engage each sense.

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Your little one is never too old to enjoy touch play (tickling the soles of the feet!) or sound play (we have a new song to sing now when we brush her six teeth!).

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We finished up with some favorite books, all of which encouraged multiple senses, whether touch, sound, or sight:

  • Look Look! by Peter Linenthal
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Can You Say It, Too? Roar! Roar! by Sebastien Braun

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Nose Day

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As a quick follow-up to other body part days Veronika and I have explored, today we had a nose day.

First, we sang about noses. Need ideas? Don’t forget ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ features it near the end!

Then we walked around the house to find family photos with noses.

And of course, talk about what your nose does best – smell! I lined up spice jars and held each in front of Veronika’s nose.

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Some earned a smile and some received a very confused look.

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The point is, you can have a day like this for just about any given body part. What will you choose next? Knees? Belly buttons? Please share in the comments!

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Ears Day

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In the past, Veronika and I have focused on a single body part for the day, like hands and feet. Today was all about ears!

Rather than just pointing out ears, we focused a lot on what ears can do – hear! That meant pulling out all her toys that prominently feature sounds. We listened to doorbells and animal sounds:

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Squeaky suns:

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And musical instruments:

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Find things around the house with a strong sound (like running shower water), and for each one, say “I hear with my little ear…”

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I also read a book from the library called I Hear, and made sounds alongside the pages.

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“I hear with my little ear… rain!”

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“I hear with my little ear… the telephone!”

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We also walked around the house looking for ears in family photos and paintings.

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What body part should we explore next? Stay tuned!

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Seek Out the Squeak

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This cute little activity will hone your baby’s skills in a number of areas: fine-tuning their hearing; playing with their sense of object permanence, and exciting them with a little anticipation!

First, I rounded up a few toys that squeak. I guess in our house that tends to be little pigs!

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Hide one squeaky toy under a scarf (or a dish towel would work), and make it squeak.

The muffled sound was less distinct than Veronika is used to. Where was the sound coming from?

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She homed in quickly on the scarf – although this may have been because the scarf itself looked novel and interesting.

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Tada! A squeaky toy. I squeaked it again as her reward, and praised her efforts.

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Uh oh, is that another faint squeak she heard?

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Now she knew how to locate the second toy.

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Okay, so maybe she was more thrilled with her little scarf toys than with the pigs underneath but she still was reaping the benefits of this game tangentially – and having lots of fun in the process!

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Grocery Store Game

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When she was very little, I grocery shopped with Veronika against my chest in the Ergo carrier, napping more often than not. Now that she’s big enough to sit up and look around, I highly recommend a seat cover with an infant booster. Veronika sits happily ensconced and gets to take in all the sights and sounds of the grocery store – one of my very favorite locations for language-learning and texture exploration!

Instead of racing through my list today, I set aside extra time for Veronika and I to shop slowly and talk about each item we purchased. There was a crinkly bag of lettuce to scrunch in her hands.

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Next we talked about colors – like bold green zucchini!

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She loved the papery feel of a head of garlic.

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And playing with the wrappers of energy bars.

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Temperature is another fun area to discuss, like the cold items from the refrigerator case. And a dehydrated soup cup makes sounds like a maraca!

Engage your child’s senses fully in this way and you might just get lucky and be that parent at checkout whose baby is not fussing.

Name Familiar Sounds

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Whenever I come across auditory activities for a baby, there’s a part of me that feels bored with the idea; I prefer activities that are craftier or cuter, I guess! But then I remember: if I don’t tell Veronika the name of a sound, who will? Everything at this age is new, including what might feel ho-hum to a grown-up.

So all that said, today Veronika and I focused on sounds. We started inside, finding familiar, noticeable noises. Some good candidates included: the tea kettle;

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The laundry machine;

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and running water.

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She was fascinated by my phone when I programmed it to make an old-fashioned telephone ring.

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Give your child time to absorb each sound, and name what it is, and some descriptive words about it.

Next, we headed outside for further exploration. The first thing we noticed was the wind rustling leaves. It was beautiful to pause and hear the whisper and whoosh together.

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We also paused to hear the splash of a fountain.

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My girl was listening intently!

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Other sounds included barking dogs, footsteps, and chirping birds. She got to hear several modes of transportation, including cars and a train roaring by.

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There was even a helicopter making noise overhead.

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What else did you hear on your exploration? Please share in the comments!

Clothesline Sensory Adventure

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Okay, this activity is probably best done on a warm late spring day, when the air feels good against your skin, and the sun is shining bright, and baby can have bare arms and legs. Not on a winter day with wind gusts up to 60 mph! But I had been wanting a new sensory activity to do with Veronika for some time, so we headed outside anyway!

If you have a clothesline, string it up between two trees or fence posts in your yard. Lacking a true clotheslines, I strung up a length of twine, which worked just fine.

Add a few soft towels and sheets, securing with clothespins.

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Now take baby out for a sensory adventure. (You’ll notice a very bundled up Veronika!).

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First we just walked up and down the line, as I showed her the colors and let her feel the textures. She had quite the grip on the green towel!

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Next we played a sort of peek-a-boo through the sheets, having the fabric drape over her before she emerged with a “pop!” I was hoping this would get big smiles, but she looked a little alarmed by the wind more than anything!

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Perhaps we’ll do this again in the springtime… But oh well, we still had a little sensory adventure today.

Visual Discovery

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A relative praised Veronika’s strong eyesight over the weekend, a nice compliment and a reminder of why I take the time to play little games at each stage that strengthen her vision. At three months old, we’ve moved beyond black and white and beyond bold colors, and now she can start to enjoy complicated patterns.

I sat her down comfortably and pulled out a variety of household objects with colors and contrasts for her to enjoy. First up, a ball of multi-hued yarn.

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Then I showed her one of daddy’s ties. I talked about what the item was, as well as descriptions of the color and images on it.

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This bandanna from big brother Travis was a hit!

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So much so that we tied it in her bassinet for visual fun later in the day.

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Even a two-tone hairbrush can be fun in this game.

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Just be careful; unlike some games we play, items from this one weren’t meant to end up in the mouth!

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If you’re stumped for what items to show your baby, head to the closet. There are sure to be racks full of interesting colors and patterns.

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She especially loved one of mommy’s dresses!

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Smell New Scents

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As you help your baby learn about the world and develop their senses, don’t neglect the sense of smell! Your infant is born with an acute sense of smell already, but new items will be a delight.

While she was happy and alert today, I sat Veronika down for this little game, and gathered together a plate of items with strong smells.

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The vanilla bean was a great hit. Her eyes went wide.

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Hmm, she wasn’t so sure about pungent nutmeg.

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Cloves also got a big wide-eyed look; offer the whole jar in this case, since the cloves are so tiny.

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She also really seemed to love the rosemary.

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And was tickled pink for fresh lavender.

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Fresh flowers make a great option, too.

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As you play, definitely let your little one feel the items as well (just be sure to supervise closely, as several are choking hazards).

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Since the sense of smell is strongly linked to memory, I had the fond thought that these scents might imprint in her brain. Will vanilla forevermore take her back to a feeling of infancy and comfort, now? It’s a nice thought!

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