Toddlers work unconsciously to refine their senses each day. Most toddlers love outdoor exploring and walking often leads to great sensorial learning. The opportunities for sensorial experiences during a walk are abundant; e.g., “The gate is smooth. Would you like to touch it?” After asking, I guided him to the bricks on a side wall and said, “The wall is rough.” He then touched each cautiously and repeated “smooth” and “rough”. These moments provide simple sensorial learning, language and life skills.
Now older and more confident, he often makes an experienced prediction. “The bricks are rough,” he states while reaching to touch them. Satisfied, he smiles. Yes, his developing senses are on it!
The child’s senses begin developing at birth, however, the refinement of these senses is heightened between the ages of two to six years. Real and concrete experiences or activities in nature expand the child’s sensorial awareness. All that they see, smell, feel, hear and taste is logged in their memory.
Activities can support and refine the child’s developing senses. Below is a visual discrimination activity to try:
- Place several sticks of various lengths randomly on a sidewalk square.
- Invite the child to place the longest stick on a square several feet away.
- Ask the child to get the next longest and lay it beside the first.
- Continue until all the sticks have been lined up. The child will feel the stick’s length as he carries it and see the stick’s differences once they are in order.
- To begin, “This stick is long.”
- Next, “This stick is longer.”
- Continue until the last is placed, “This stick is longest.”
- Isolate this language and repeat “Long, longer, longest”, while pointing to each.
Similarities and relationships can be found in nature, at home or most anywhere. Activities can help the child experience these discoveries in a meaningful way too! Have fun and be creative, and the child’s developing senses will reveal their impressive abilities.
“It is exactly in the repetition of the exercises that the education of the senses exists; not that the child shall know colors, forms or qualities, but that he refines his senses through an exercise of attention, comparison, and judgement.” Dr. Maria Montessori