I really like the dance we do this time of year called Fum, Fum, Fum! The babies in class love all the sensory input – watching the swishing scarves, moving through the dance, and hearing the music. The more your little one has opportunity to experience activities through all senses, the stronger and more permanent learning will be.

In Spring and Summer, the outside world is chock full of colors, smells, tastes, sounds, and things to touch. By this time of year, socks and shoes are back on, mittens cover little fingers, and hats muffle noises.

Did you know that together, hands and feet have over 40,000 touch receptors? Pull off those socks and mittens and take advantage of those 40,000 learning possibilities! Here are some ideas:

Note: All of these work equally well for hands or feet. A tablecloth/oilcloth on the floor or bathtub work well for the feet activities, and a highchair tray or wax paper on a table is a perfect place to contain the mess made by experimenting little hands. Be sure to talk about what your little one is “feeling” (slippery, soft, rough, smooth, scratchy, bumpy).

• Squirt shaving cream or whipped cream onto feet, or in little mounds on a high chair tray for exploration.

• Put dried beans or breakfast cereal in a box or plastic tub. Place packing peanuts or crumpled paper in the other box. Let your little one stomp and jump and kick away. (With your help, a non-walker can do this, too.)

• Make a box of ribbon and fabric scraps of various textures (satin, grosgrain, fleece, burlap, vinyl) for exploration.

• Take those ribbons and scraps of fabric, add some cotton balls, and put them on floor for your little one to crawl or walk across.

• Cook noodles, oatmeal, rice or jello. Name the different textures as you play with them.

• Mix cornstarch and water until you get a goop about the consistency of glue. Add food coloring if you wish. This is a non-toxic mixture, so no worries if a little bit gets eaten. This is not the time to try and contain the mess! Frequently, the messier the experience, the more is learned. Think about it – the more touch receptors (and other senses) that are involved, the stronger and more permanent the learning will be.

Special thanks to Studio 3 Music, our colleagues in Seattle, for sharing a great post from their blog.