As your newborn grows and develops, he becomes more aware of his environment. Helping him see and feel different shapes as you play and interact together will lay the foundation for learning letter names and sounds later on in his development. Here is a playful way you can introduce the world of shapes to your infant.
- a soft blanket or quilt
- three infant/baby-safe toys or household items (e.g., ball, block, stacking rings, rattle, stuffed animal, plastic bowl, baby-safe mirror, plastic egg, teething ring)
Step 1: Place a soft blanket or quilt on the floor, making sure it is a safe distance away from furniture or sharp corners.
Step 2: Gather several of your baby’s toys that have defined shapes like a ball, a block or a star-shaped teething ring. You can also choose non-toy items from around your home that have interesting shapes like a plastic bowl, cereal box or a plastic lid. Carefully pick items that will survive being grasped and are safe to be mouthed.
Step 3: When your baby is in a happy, playful mood, place him on the blanket on her tummy. When baby is able to sit unsupported, you can sit him on the blanket. Position yourself comfortably in front of your baby.
Step 4: Help your baby see and feel each shape as you play and interact with him.
While your baby is enjoying some “tummy time”, show him the ball. When baby has fixated his eyes on the ball, talk to him about the shape. You might say:
Do you see the ball? Look! It’s round!
Pause, then continue. Since your baby is just learning how to understand language, be sure to speak slowly and pause frequently.
This is a round ball. We can roll the ball. See?
When baby is a few months older and can sit unsupported, place the toy or item in front of him so that he can grasp and hold the toy. As baby is exploring the toy, talk to him about the shape. You might say:
You found your bear! Do you see all of the shapes on your bear? (Point) Here are his eyes. Look! They are round. Can you feel bear’s eye? It’s round!
Step 5: Continue talking about each item, allowing your baby time to explore shapes through sight, touch and sound as you interact and talk to him.