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June 26, 2018

Sensorial Exploration for Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers are surrounded by an enormous world filled with new experiences. They are natural explorers of that world -- seeking to understand everything around them. And, in Montessori we recognize that that happens through the development of the senses. As Maria Montessori said in the Absorbent Mind, "The senses, being explorers of the world, open the way to knowledge." 

In Montessori classroom, a huge part of the materials are dedicated solely to the development of the senses. The sensorial materials are some of the first materials introduced to children and are meant to refine a variety of aspects of our physical world. This need for sensory exploration and development does not start when children enter a classroom. But, even babies and young toddlers can engage in sensory development work. Often, however, this work comes from natural experiences in the environment more than a specific set of learning tools.

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Preparing our environment for this exploration is therefore important. We need to make sure we have sensory rich opportunities available. And, I’m not talking sensory bins. I mean beautiful things to look at, interesting textures to touch, lovely sounds, a variety of tastes, and so on. As much as possible we want to isolate those sensory experiences so that a baby or young toddler can really absorb and learn from them. With too much going on, a baby won’t be able to. 

One of my favorite ways to do that is with these simple smelling jars. I simply cut some fresh herbs, citrus peels, cinnamon sticks, or even some child-safe essential oils on a cotton ball and place into a shaker jar. Then I simply place these on the shelf, or in a basket on the shelf. It's a great way to isolate scent without taste. But, of course babies and toddlers will come up with their own uses for them (like Gus stacking them!) I've used these with babies as young as 8 months, and at 19 months, Gus still enjoys them. 

These are just one example of sensory exploration for babies. Other common objects can also be used:
But, really children will find their sensory experiences all around them! We just need to recognize it's importance and allow for it to happen! 

What sorts of sensory experiences has your baby or toddler enjoyed?

Sensorial exploration for Montessori babies and toddlers - simple Montessori activities to do at home to allow for sensory play and exploration

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 months to Montessori series. This month's theme is sensorial. Don't miss these Montessori and Montessori inspired sensorial themed posts:

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