Top 10 Creative Play ideas For Babies
Babies are the masters of enjoying and engaging with common household items that they consider to be amazing “toys”. Simple “toys” (a box, a transparent water bottle filled with coloured rice, or saucepans) seem to produce the greatest source of enjoyment for babies. Simple toys that do not necessarily have a specific function, or predetermined outcome, lead to open ended play, greater exploration and discovery.
The following top 10 creative play ideas for babies must be supervised, at all times, by an adult. To enhance fine motor skills print some wallet sized photos of family members and pets. Place the photos in a clean wallet with lots of compartments. Your baby will be fascinated to discover all the places where the photos are “hiding” and enjoy pulling out photos featuring faces of those they love. Photos can also be transferred onto fabric to make textured fabric books.
- A sensory peek-a-boo board is something that can be easily made. Secure photos onto a piece of cardboard (a shoe box lid is perfect for this.) Consider using photos of family, animals, or pictures to represent favourite songs (a spider for Incy Wincy Spider, a black sheep for Ba Ba Black sheep etc). Clear tape or contact over the photos will help protect them. Cover each photo with a piece of fabric (ensure that babies can lift the fabric pieces to reveal the pictures), preferably different textured fabrics. Attach ribbons and items to the fabrics. Invite your baby to explore what is under each piece of material.
- Cause effect games. Make up games where your baby’s actions cause a reaction. For example, fill plastic containers, or those plastic eggs that are readily available over Easter with different objects (bells from craft shops, rice, chick peas etc). Babies would have to be closely supervised and not left unattended to avoid any choking hazards.
- Storytelling. This is where you get to try out all kinds of crazy voices, noises and break out with some of your best performances – the sillier the better! You can play it safe and rely on textured board books and stories which have stood the test of time. Alternatively, you could tweak some favourite stories from your childhood, add some puppets and have your baby captivated.
- Music, singing and dancing. Why not perform a concert for your baby. Audience participation with your baby clapping, drumming, or playing a musical instrument would certainly add to the memorable experience.
- Sensory Play experiences can include filling a small container with large coloured pom poms or cotton balls. Include plastic bowls, scoopers and cups. Babies may scoop, pour and transfer pom poms. With adult supervision, water, sand, shredded paper and play dough are also other sensory experiences that babies may enjoy.
- Discovery baskets. Put together a themed collection of objects from around the house, or outside, that have different textures, colours and shapes for children to explore. Popular discovery baskets that my children enjoyed were “all things sparkly” and “items that spin”. You could put together baskets that contained all smooth items, items that were rough, spikey or items that make a noise.
- Painting. You can limit the mess by putting paint in snap lock bags and letting your baby swirl, squish and press the paint around in the bag. Why not make it a true sensory experience (and full body one too) and let your baby apply paint to a canvas. You will end up with a masterpiece at the end.
- Sensory obstacle course: This is a great idea for rainy days. It may involve rearranging some furniture to make “tunnels”. Suspend coloured scarves, or ribbons at one end of the tunnel for your baby to crawl, or walk through. Place a mirror (the ones that can be detached from baby play mats are ideal) and torch (night lights that project stars all around the room are fun for babies to see) at different points in the tunnel. Include different textured materials for your baby to interact with as well as cushions for your baby to climb and crawl over. A large box could also be added to an obstacle course for your baby to crawl in and out of.
- Being outside is a wonderful sensory experience for babies. Talk with your baby about the sounds you hear, movements you see, fragrances you can smell. Touch natural objects that are smooth, rough, bumpy etc. See if your baby is interested in experiencing different textures under their feet as they walk on grass, or put their feet in sand.
- Eye spy bottles make a fun “toy” for babies. Colour rice (place some rice in a snap lock bag, add a few drops of food colouring and vinegar. Squish the rice around the bag until it is all coloured). Pour the rice into a transparent bottle with a lid. Add some little figurines, trinkets and buttons (material stores and some craft stores sell buttons that feature animals, foods and a variety of themes). Babies may enjoy shaking and rolling the bottle around and be rewarded for their vigorous efforts ass they discover new and exciting objects each time they move the bottle.
Elise Ellerman is a mum to three young children and the founder and owner of Creative Play Central, where nurturing children’s creativity through open ended play and creative experiences is valued. At Creative Play Central, Elise, a former teacher, designs and personalises innovative activities for children that require lateral thinking, problem solving and “thinking outside the box”. An exciting addition to Creative Play Central is the launch of IMAGINATION CREATIONS which are classes for children aged 3 – 10. At these themed classes, children will choose from a selection of creative prompts and use these to inspire a creation. All children need to do is bring their imagination and they will leave with a treasured creation. For details regarding classes and other services offered by creative Play Central visit our website at www.creativeplaycentral.com.au. While visiting the website sign up for our newsletter and follow us on our recently created Facebook page where you will find more creative ideas.