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Sensory and Art with Infants and Toddlers
Nicole Sootsmanon 18 December 2015
Transcript of Sensory and Art with Infants and Toddlers
Art is about the process not the product
Materials available commercially:
Tempera paint, foam paint, watercolor paint, glue, Popsicle sticks, colored sand, paper, contact paper, tape, stamp pads and stamps, birdseed, feathers, soap, sponges.
Materials found at thrift stores:
Cups and funnels,
magazines for clipping images for collage, and kitchen utensils.
Nontoxic natural materials
them before children put them in their
mouths, using the ratio of bleach to
water recommended by your state’s
licensing protocol): Straw, nontoxic
leaves and seeds, flowers and sticks,
wool, shells, rocks, gourds, pinecones, sand, mud.
Using these materials is beneficial
to young children—handling nontoxic
pinecones and leaves in a bin encourages a love of nature and engages all
of a child’s senses (White & Stoecklin
Children watch and listen to what is happening around
them. The more they listen, watch, participate, the more
information gets added into their brain and they begin to
recognize objects, and eventually ask for the items they like.
"Infants and toddlers are like little scientists, noticing everything in their paths. They wonder about all and use their senses to discover the answers." (Rosenow, N. Q & A spotlight on young children and nature, NAEYC, March, 2012)
Why provide sensory or art activities? They make such a mess!
Active babies explore their environment through their mouths when they very young. The early childcare professionals need to keep this in mind when creating activities for this age group.
Activities also should be open-ended so children have time to create their own understanding of the materials you presented to them.
"Sensory experiences tell us who we are and where we are. The accumulation of images seen and heard, tasted, touched and smelled build a complex image of his surroundings in a little child's mind. Even a very young child invests a new sensory experience with personal meaning" (Lois Barclay Murphy, Ph.D., with Rachel Moon, M.D., Washington, D.C. from the Zero to Three Journal)
Babies are born ready to experience and discover everything that the world has to offer. So how can early childhood professionals help stimulate infants and toddlers to further their development?
Sensory and Art with Infants and Toddlers
Providing stimulating, creative, experiences for young children helps deepen their understanding of how the world works.
Through the hands on exploration, they also develop many tools needed for school readiness.
Poking, smashing, pinching, squeezing playdough
Supports hand strength and fine motor skills such as holding a pencil
Scribbling, with a crayon or marker
Supports future writing and drawing skills. With lots of practice children begin to form shapes and letters later on
Painting together on an easel
Encourages children to use materials together and supports prosocial interactions
Splashing in the water table
Supports cause and effect. And can lead to conversations about friends feelings that did not want to get wet.
Infants and toddlers need to feel the materials that are presented to them. Not be guided by a teacher who is holding their hand and making them put the materials "where they go".
Point out the colors the child has used, and ask the child what they drew, don't assume. Write(on a separate sheets of paper) down the words of their picture and place their picture on the wall with the words where they can see it.
Place their artwork at their eye level so they can look at their marvelous masterpiece and feel ownership of the classroom.
"As parents, we often tend to compliment children on their successes: What’s that a picture of? A house? That’s great! And sometimes we get hung up on the fact that trees should be green, not purple. Sometimes we quiz: What’s the name of that color? But children learn more when we don’t focus so much on what they are drawing, but on what they are thinking about their drawing. Take a few moments to observe your child’s work: Look at the lines you are making—there are so many of them! Or, That picture is really interesting. Those colors make me feel happy. Or, I see you are working really hard on your drawing. Or just: Tell me about your picture. Then see if your child is interested in sharing more."
Materials found in the home or classroom
:Paper towel/toilet paper rolls, yogurt containers, plastic water bottles, recycled paper, newspaper, cardboard boxes of all sizes, egg cartons, canning jar lids, water, old towels to make rags.
Materials created from scratch: Playdough, finger paint, oobleck, “clean mud,” colored salt/sand. There are many recipes for these online.
Sources for Art/Sensory Materials
Taken from: Young Children, NAEYC, September 2012
Well planned and though out sensory and art experiences provide young children with experiences that will help them develop important skills they will need to succeed in life.
They will understand the world around them better, become problem solvers, active members of their classrooms, and foster their creativity and ideas.
"Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible. No one can do more."
1. Schwarz, T. and Luckenbill, J. (2012) Let's Get Messy! Exploring Sensory and Art Activities with Infants and Toddlers.
Young Children, september. Retrieved from
2. Murphy, L.B. and Moon, R. Babies and their Senses
Zero to Three. Retreived from
3. Leigh,E. (2012) Sensory Play for Babies and Toddlers.
4. Rivkin, M. and Rosenow, N. (2012) Q&A with selected authors of Spotlight on Young Children and Nature
Spotlight on Young Children and Nature, March 2012.
Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/event/nature
5. Zero to Three. Learning to Write and Draw, How Your Child's Writing and Art Changes Over Time.