We are often asked for our resource recommendations for various ages. So, we've decided to produce a series of blog posts doing exactly that. And we are kicking it off with infants.
10 Essential Elements for Infant Environments - Indoor Edition
1. Light - Natural or Gentle. Natural light is always best, but if you don't have enough windows, ensure that the light you use in the space is warm and gentle, like the light from a lamp. Make the most of natural light by placing suncatchers or crystals near the window - the refracted light delights many children. Light boxes and light panels may also be used to spark curiosity and wonder.
2. Scarves and fabric. Scarves and fabric in various sizes, textures, and colours are great for imaginative play, enveloping or enclosing, and sensory exploration. Large, sheer pieces of fabric can be draped to create small, cosy spaces.
3. Balls and things that roll.
Balls of various weight, size and texture can be used by children to explore the trajectory schema
in many creative ways. Add baskets for filling and emptying or throwing balls into.
Cameron Park Early Learning Centre, NSW
4. Mirrors and reflective items. Many infants are intrigued by their own reflection, and when combined with light, mirrors spark curiosity and wonder.
5. Places to sit and connect. Much of our time with infants is spent building relationships, cuddling, connecting. Soft, comfortable spaces such as lounges, armchairs, rocking chairs, floor cushions and hammock swings all provide great places for connection.
Our Place Play School, NSW
6. Treasure baskets/heuristic play items. A treasure basket is essentially a low, sturdy basket that an educator or parent intentionally fills with items that a child can explore using their senses. Some examples of what you might include: scarf, loofah, kitchen utensils such as a whisk or wooden spoon, pinecone, small bowl.
7. Boxes of various shape and size. Boxes are an amazing open ended material. Small boxes could be used for filling and emptying, or transporting. Large boxes are perfect for crawling or climb in and out of.
8. Soft but steady flooring. The children in your environment may be learning to roll, crawl and walk. Ensuring that the floor is firm enough for stability, but soft for crawling, rolling and the occasional hard landing, is important. If you have hard flooring, soften it with rugs in various locations.
9. Opportunities for sensory exploration.
This doesn't just mean water and paint. We are talking about opportunities for sensory input for all of the senses. For example, supporting the proprioceptive sense by providing opportunities (even indoors) for jumping, rolling and "crashing". Want to learn more about the senses? Our online courses with OT Bonnie Berry can help
10. Timber blocks. We don't need an abundance of blocks and a large construction area. Even a small basket of wooden blocks can be used for stacking, banging, and filling and emptying.
So there you have it! Of course, the environment means nothing without connected, respectful and engaged educators who are in tune with children routines and rhythms. Need some support in that area - our Brilliant Babies Mini Course will do the trick!