My baby is officially one and his excitement over learning new things on a daily basis is beyond exciting to see. Each day offers a new opportunity for my little guy to learn something new, and I love seeing his awareness of his surroundings and how things work, grow each day. While we have a lot of fun playing and learning with all his new birthday toys, some of the most natural and exciting learning experiences come about organically and happen in the real world. By using items and objects throughout your own home, you can teach your baby a whole host of things, from the concept of opposites, to expressing and reading emotions, and experiencing the five senses. Everyday play leads to very teachable moments, which are usually the best kind! Let’s explore the ways you can teach your little one about the exciting world of opposites, all through real world experiences in your own home.
Up and Down – You can show the concept of up and down a number of ways, from playful and gentle tosses up in the air, and then back into your safe arms, to showing how a window shade works. This one is one of Hayden’s favorite moves, and loves to try and help me pull the cord up to raise the shade up, and then watch me release the cord to let it drop down. He especially enjoys it when someone he loves is on the other side of the shade. It becomes a very fun game of peek-a-boo.
Dark and Light – Each room in our house has wooden shutters on the windows, which when used, really block out a great deal of light. In the mornings and when he wakes at nap time, we walk over and open up the shutters to reveal the sun. While he’s slowly waking up, we stand in front of the window and close the shutters to shut out the light, and open them to say hi to the sunshine. After a few turns, he’s awake and ready to face the rest of the day and play some more.
Open and Close – We seem to be pretty entranced with windows and doors around here, because another way we enjoy exploring opposites, is to open and shut the doors, or open and close the curtains that cover our sliding glass door. I often sit or stand on the opposite side of the door and let him see me disappear and reappear when the door opens and shuts. Giggles for days!
Quiet and Loud – A noise machine in Hayden’s nursery, which we use at bedtime and at nap time, is the perfect accessory to help me show him the difference between quiet and loud. It has a volume control so I raise the volume up and down, over and over until he loses interest after a while. Banging toys together, especially using his little wooden hammer on different objects like a pillow versus a wooden block, is also a great way to demonstrate this opposite.
Empty and Full – Bath time and a couple of play cups are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate this opposite. Fill the cup up, and then empty it out, often times on baby’s head or hand, to elicit wonder and giggles.
Hard and Soft – A wooden toy versus a soft stuffed animal is just one of countless ways you can show the difference between hard and soft.
Small and Big – We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and so using tools we touch every day, to offer some real life lessons is a natural thing to do. Using plastic mixing bowls or big and small wooden spoons, I can show the difference between big and small objects.
Heavy and Light – Again using simple tools from the kitchen, you can provide real world teaching moments. I use a heavier metal spoon and baby uses a lightweight plastic spoon, and by offering both for your baby to touch and hold, you show the difference in not only weight, but texture too.
Hot and Cold – Each day when I warm up Hayden’s baby food, I blow on it and say over and over “hot, hot,” until it’s cool enough to eat. This is a simple and easy way to demonstrate, through the sense of taste, the difference between hot and cold.
Short and Long – We always seem to be doing projects around the house or whipping up a craft, both which often require a tape measure. By pulling out different lengths, you can show the varying distances of short and long.
These teachable moments are more about having fun and experiencing the real world together, in a new way. It’s not to test baby, or raise little geniuses. But since learning can never start too young, or be too fun, why not enhance your everyday experiences? What ways do you like to teach baby little things, in the everyday moments?