Last week Dr. B, an early childhood development specialist, taught us a flashlight game that Mazzy LOVED. This week she’s continuing the fall theme with a game about leaves. Mazzy is at the stage where she will throw everything and anything into her mouth, particularly things that she is discovering for the first time, so she’s a little young for this game. But in a couple of months and under close supervision, I will be happy to expose my city kid to some nature stuff. As long as it doesn’t involve bugs or traveling out to Long Island.
Introduce at: 12 months (or whenever you think your baby won’t relish the opportunity to shove a fistful of leaves in their mouth)
How You Play: Go on a walk and pick different colored leaves of various sizes and textures. Let your baby explore and crumble the leaves with his/her hands. Throw the leaves in the air while your child watches them fall. Repeat phrases such as “the leaves fall down” and “up and down.” Direct your child’s attention to the colors, textures, and sizes (i.e., “big” and “small”) of the leaves. Show your child how to group the leaves based on these physical attributes or ask your child to hand you a leaf that is a specific color or size.
Why its good for the baby: Playing with objects that are a part of our natural environment exposes your chid to important information about the outside world. When babies beecome mobile, they extend their exploration beyond mouthing objects to a more thorough examination of many physical properties. Touching and studying the leaves builds connections in the brain that helps babies learn to process and integrate tactile sensory information. In addition, naming the physical properties of the leaves builds vocabulary and spatial concepts such as light vs. heavy and big vs. small.