Tag Archives: babies

Baby Play: Texture Tiles

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Texture tiles have been a big hit at my storytimes (though not quite as successful as my coworker’s liquid sensory tiles–more on those in another few weeks). Various textured items are hot glued, zip tied, or otherwise secured to foam puzzle tiles.

I put these out in a big stack, and the kids decide whether they want to interact with individual tiles or if they want to connect different tiles together.

Textures can include:

  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Felt
  • Foam
  • Carpet Square
  • Craft Sticks
  • Thin Wood
  • Pom Poms
  • Googly Eyes
  • Fur
  • Memory Foam
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Rocks/Moss
    • I found circular, pre-made thin “stepping stones” at Michaels a few years ago. The rocks seem to be permanently fixed to the thin sheet, as I’ve never had one break off. I can’t find a similar item online at the moment–if you know of something like this, please share in the comments below.

How to Make Texture Tiles

Materials: 12″ x 12″ foam puzzle tiles, various sensory surfaces (I used what was on hand), hot glue

Steps:

  • Decide how many tiles you are going to make.
  • Cut textures to smaller than the size of the tiles (about 10″ x 10″)
  • Hot glue to attach textures to tiles (or use other adhesives as necessary).
  • After glue has dried, thoroughly test all surfaces to make sure items are stuck to the tiles.

Cost: $25+

Time to Make: 30 minutes

Pro-Tip: Make sure to check these tiles after each use, especially if you plan to attach smaller items (pom poms, googly eyes, rocks, etc.). After many weeks of using these, I have a fairly good idea which tiles will need reinforced.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • How does that surface feel?
  • Which texture do you like best—the bumpy one or the squishy one?
  • Can you hop on the soft part?
  • Can you walk very slowly?
  • What happens when you step on that surface?
  • What color is that texture?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Bumpy
Comfortable
Fast
Fluffy
Hard
Hop

Jump
Lumpy
Mushy
Prickly
Rough
Slow

Soft
Spongy
Squishy
Surface
Texture
Uneven

Baby Play: Pom Pom Drop

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

I’ve been interested in creating a large pom pom drop for a while, and I finally had the opportunity when a coworker donated over 20 empty Pringles cans to the youth department. Walking babies and toddlers particularly enjoyed grasping the 2″ pom poms and watching them fall through the colorful tubes.

In addition to developing those ever-important fine motor skills, little ones learned about cause and effect as they dropped pom poms through different tubes at different heights.

How to Make a Pom Pom Drop

Materials: hard backing material (we used leftover insulation board from a previous project), empty Pringles cans, construction paper, hot glue, packing tape, sharp kitchen knife, 2″ pom poms

Steps:

  • Enforce edges of backing material as needed to make sure nothing is sharp or peeling.
  • Use sharp, large kitchen knife to cut empty Pringles cans to a variety of lengths. At a minimum, the knife works great to cut an inch or so above the metal bottom of the can, removing all of the sharp bits in one cut. (There are tutorials online about using a can opener for this process, but I could never get it to work cleanly without something sharp being left behind.)
  • Measure your cut can’s length. Cut a piece of construction paper to the same length.
  • Optional: Laminate the construction paper for extra durability.
  • Wrap the construction paper around the can and tape it on securely.
  • Hot glue construction-paper-wrapped cans to the backing materials.
  • As needed, further secure each can by wrapping packing tape around the front to secure it to the board.

Cost: $20+ (cost depends on backing material and number of pom poms)

Time to Make: 30 minutes

Pro-Tip: Ball pit balls also fit through Pringles cans! If you have limited resources, ball pit balls have many uses and are easier to clean than pom poms.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • Can you drop the pom pom in a tube?
  • What happens when the pom pom goes into a tube?
  • What color is the pom pom?
  • How does the pom pom feel?
  • What happens if the tube is at an angle?
  • How many pom poms can you drop through the tubes?
  • Can you catch a falling pom pom?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Bright
Cloud
Colorful
Down
Downy
Drop

Fall
Fluffy
Fuzzy
Plunge
Roll
Round

Slide
Soft
Spherical
Squishy
Texture
Through

Baby Play: Baby Pool Play

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Baby pool play is a staple of my weekly after-storytime play. Baby pools are incredibly versatile, acting as a ball pit, a storage bin for puppets, or a container for some extra messy sensory play.

There is no end to the types of items you can put in a baby pool. My favorites include:

  • Ball Pit Balls
  • Pool Noodle Pieces (supervise–watch for chewing)
  • Easter Grass
  • Shredded Paper
  • Unrolled receipt paper
  • Puppets
  • Balloons
  • 2″+ Pom Poms

Messy items can be put in a smaller bin that is placed inside the larger baby pool. This helps contain the mess (at least a little). Messy play items can include:

  • Rice
  • Sand
  • Beans
  • Water

Baby Pool Play Ideas

Materials: hard-plastic baby pool, choice of filling

Steps:

  • Fill pool with chosen materials

Cost: $10+ (cost depends on audience size and choice of filling)

Time to Make: < 5 minutes

Pro-Tip: Hard plastic pools are more durable than inflatable pools and are a little harder for babies to flip over, dumping out the contents (sometimes including other babies). However, inflatable pools are easier to store and accomplish the same goal.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What does the ball feel like?
  • How many balls can you pick up at once?
  • Can you hide your arms under the balls?
  • How much grass/paper can you pick up?
  • Can you put the grass on your head?
  • Can you find a yellow pool noodle?
  • What color is the pool noodle?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Accumulate
Beneath
Bury
Cover
Crinkle
Deep

Drift
Float
Hidden
Itchy
Light
Mound

Mountain
Pile
Smooth
Swim
Tear
Underneath

Baby Storytime Outline

These are the songs, rhymes, stories, and activities I used for a 25-minute baby storytime, followed by 20 minutes of free play.

Our baby storytime is for ages 0-24 months, with most children being 12-24 months old. Approximately 85 people attended this storytime, including about 50 babies.

Room Setup: Doors open about 5-8 minutes before storytime. Powerpoint slides are displayed on a smartboard at the front of the room with words to all songs and rhymes. As folks enter, two bubble machines are hard at work in the front of the room while baby songs play from the department iTunes account.

Welcome Song: Wake Up Feet (play from 0:14 to 1:00)
Wake up feet, wake up feet
Wake up feet and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wake up feet, wake up feet
Wake and wiggle in the morning.
Continue with: Legs, Arms, Hands

Welcome Rhyme: Clap and Sing Hello
We clap and sing hello,
We clap and sing hello,
With all our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing hello!
Continue with: kick and sing hello, wave and sing hello

Focused Early Literacy Tip: Babies focus on the work spoken immediately after their name. For example, if you say, “Raven, do you want to read a book?”, the child focuses on the word “do.” Instead, try saying “Raven, book. Do you want to read a book?”

Book: Up!: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat from Songs for Wiggleworms

Body Rhyme: Everybody Knows
Everybody knows that I love your toes!
Everybody knows that I love your toes!
I love your eyes,
Your ears,
Your mouth
And your nose!
But everybody knows that I love your toes!

Action Rhyme: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Song: Baby Shark by Pinkfong!

Movement Rhymes: This portion of my storytime involves 2-3 rhymes that specifically focus on bouncing, swaying, or tilting to the rhythm of the words. I talk about how these types of rhymes help develop phonological awareness.

  • Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
    Zoom, zoom, zoom
    We’re going to the moon.
    Zoom, zoom, zoom,
    We’ll get there very soon.
    In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
    BLAST OFF! (lift)
  • Tick-Tock
    Tick-tock, tick-tock, (sway)
    I’m a little cuckoo clock.
    Tick-tock, tick-tock,
    Now it’s almost one o-clock.
    Cuckoo! (lift)
  • Humpty Dumpty
    (sway) Rock and rock and rock on the wall,
    Rock and rock; I hope we don’t fall.

    (sway) Humpty Dumpty say on a wall
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall! (tilt backwards)

    (bounce fast) All the kings horses and all the kinds men
    Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Puppet Time: Retold abbreviated version of book Dear Zoo.

Manipulative Time: Scarves

  • Manipulative Rhyme: We Shake and Shake
    We shake and shake and shake and stop.
    We shake and shake and shake and stop.
    We shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and STOP!
    Continue with: Wave, Jump

Closing Song: Skinnamarink by Sharon Lois and Bram

Discovery Time Activities: Discovery Time is 15-20 minutes of free-play at the end of storytime that encourages parents to have time to talk to one another and for parents to interact with their children. I try to include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to my wide age range as well as a mixture of purchased toys and items that parents can remake at home. This week’s activities included:

  • Cereal Boxes and Straws
  • Scarves in Oballs
  • Water Painting
  • Easter Grass & Balloons in Baby Pools
  • Tumbling Mats with Soft Blocks
  • Large Blocks
  • Sensory Tiles
  • Sensory Bags

Baby Play: Water Painting

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Babies LOVE playing in water, and I love to provide opportunities for them to do so! However, it gets cold in Ohio and not every parent is thrilled about their little one potentially getting soaked after storytime.

Water painting creates the best of both worlds: babies get to play with water while staying dry (and practicing fine motor skills).

Each little one gets a hard surface (trays work well), a piece of construction paper, and a paint brush. Adults get a cup filled about one-third with water. Kids can dip the paintbrush in the water and paint squiggles on the paper (or whatever other surface is nearby).

Setting Up Water Painting Play

Materials: hard surface, construction paper, paintbrushes (that are only used for water play–babies will put these in their mouths), reusable cups, bucket for clean water, bucket for dirty water, paper towels

Steps:

  • Setup station with materials listed above.
  • Put construction paper on a tray.
  • Adult fills reusable cup with clean water.
  • Child “paints” as long as they like.

Cost: < $10

  • Paintbrushes (Dollar Tree)
  • Construction Paper Pack

Time to Setup: < 5 minutes

Pro-Tip: The water shows up better on lighter colored construction paper.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What does the water feel like?
  • What can you draw?
  • What happens to the paper when you put water on it?
  • Can you draw a circle?
  • What happens if you use less water?
  • How does the paper feel before and after you paint with water?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Damp
Dip
Draw
Drenched
Dripping
Dry

Little
Miniscule
Plain
Pour
Saturated
Soaked

Sodden
Soggy
Sopping
Textured
Torn
Wet

Play & Learn

This summer, I worked with a fellow librarian to start a nine-week play series for ages 0-3 and their families. Play & Learn quickly turned into one of my (and our patrons) favorite programs of the summer.

Each Wednesday, from 9:30-10:30 am, parents and their little ones interacted with 10-12 activities we placed around our large meeting room. On average, we had 80-120 visitors each week. People came and went on their own schedule–for some babies, 10 minutes was more than enough time in the crowded room; others enjoyed a full hour of play and even stayed to help with clean-up.

Some activities repeated each week (bubbles!), while others rotated in and out throughout the summer. We grouped our activities into four categories and made sure to have a mix of these each week:

  • Fine Motor
  • Gross Motor
  • Sensory
  • Belly Babies (for our littlest prewalkers)

We picked activities that kids of all developmental abilities could enjoy, such as ball pit balls in muffin tins.

Some of our most popular activities included:

  • Cereal Boxes and Straws
  • Baby Pool Play
  • Pom Pom Drop
  • Sensory Tiles
  • Tumbling Mats
  • Sensory Bags & Bottles
  • “Messy” Sensory Play (rice, beans, sand, easter grass, water)
  • Instrument/Sound Play

This program is particularly great because you can adapt it to whatever budget and space you have available. We have very large crowds in the summer, and this program was able to meet the needs of parents and little ones while appealing to a large range of ages. We included a mix of purchased play items and items that parents could re-create at home cheaply–another library could do a similar program just focusing on one of these categories, to save staff time (pre-purchased items) or money (cheap, home-made items).

Play & Learn also encouraged parent-child interaction. Each activity included laminated sheets on the floor nearby, explaining the value of the activity along with questions and vocabulary words to encourage parent engagement.

Play & Learn has already been requested multiple times by our community to be continued this fall. While that cannot happen, unfortunately, due to our busy school-year programming schedule, I am looking forward to this program’s return next summer.

Baby Play: Muffin Tin Play

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Using muffin tins as sorting trays can be adapted for a variety of ages. The youngest children just like placing ball pit balls (or other items) in the tin’s perfectly shaped cups. Toddlers start to recognize colors and will match balls to colors in the tin’s cups. Preschoolers quickly turn muffin tin play into a pretend play activity, imagining the balls are cupcakes, muffins, or other treats.

Setting Up Muffin Tin Play

Materials: Muffin Tins, Ball Pit Balls, Construction Paper (optional)

Steps:

  • Give child ball pit balls and muffin tins
  • Optional: Cut colored circles and tape or hot glue into the cups of a muffin tin. Make sure these match the colors of the ball pit balls you have.

Cost: $38 (cost depends on audience size)

Time to Make: 20 minutes (if adding colored circles)

Pro-Tip: If you plan to use these regularly, laminate and hot glue the circles you place in the muffin tins for durability.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • Can you put a ball in each empty space?
  • Can you match the colors in the muffin tin?
  • Where is a yellow ball?
  • What color is this?
  • How many balls fit in the tin?
  • Can you fit two balls in one spot?
  • Can you pretend the balls are food?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Arrange
Bounce
Categorize
Colors
Cupcakes
Dump

Empty
Fill
Fit
Grab
Grasp
Match

Organize
Pattern
Roll
Shiny
Smooth
Sort

Sometimes, little ones make their own play:

Baby Play: Cereal Boxes and Straws

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

A simple fine motor activity, cereal boxes and straws, is always a success. Babies build their finger muscles while placing smoothie straws in pre-cut holes in cereal boxes. This is especially great because it can be easily replicated at home and appeals to a wide range of ages.

How to Make Cereal Boxes and Straws

Materials: Empty Cereal Boxes, Smoothie Straws, Pencil or other poking tool, Packing Tape

Steps:

  • Collect empty cereal boxes.
  • Tape all sides of the box to make the seams sturdier.
  • Punch holes in the front of the box using a pencil or similar tool.
  • Test a straw to make sure your holes are large enough for a straw to fit but not so large that it flops over and falls into the box.
  • Optional: Make a pattern with your straw holes, such as a letter of the alphabet.

Cost: $0-10

Time to Make: < 10 minutes

Pro-Tip: If you are going to use this activity a lot, consider purchasing reusable straws that can be washed. Smoothie straws can be washed, but tend to get bitten, and the teeth marks show.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • How many straws fit in the box?
  • Can you take a straw out of the box?
  • Can you make a straw fit in the box?
  • What color is the straw?
  • How does the straw feel?
  • What happens if you hit the box with the straw?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Fit
Inside
Into
Lay
Length
Lift

Nudge
Outside
Pluck
Press
Pull
Push

Smooth
Stand
Tall
Tight
Tug
Yank

Baby Prom

Fancy clothes. Lots of music. Awkward dancing. Awesome (or maybe not so awesome) decor. My fellow librarian, Sarah, and I agree that there is only one thing that can make a standard American prom better — babies. Enter Baby Prom.

After reading about Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Baby Prom via the ALSC blog, we decided to tap into our very large baby and toddler population (storytimes for those ages in the summer regularly reach 80-100 people) to create our own Baby & Toddler Prom experience.

About 50 parents and little ones joined us for an hour on a Friday afternoon for music, crafts, dancing, and fun. Babies and toddlers were dressed in a variety of styles, from those with fancy dresses and all the accessories to those in their everyday storytime attire.

Baby Prom Decor

Prom needs a great photo op and awesome decorations, and we delivered with 40″ mylar balloons. We purchased these in prepackaged sets as the words “baby” and “prom”, making them significantly cheaper than individually purchased letters, even if the gold tones don’t match exactly.

We created a photo background with silver mylar and half of a balloon arch. The dark blue, gold, silver, and white colors continued around the room.

Dance Floor

The center of the room contained our amazing dance floor, designed by my coworker, Sarah. We call these “liquid floor tiles”, and they are a hit at all of our programming. The liquid is contained inside of 9×12 lamination pouches, ironed closed. Most include a mixture of baby oil, water, food coloring, and other items (foam shapes, glitter, etc.). The ironed lamination pouches have duct tape around the edges to further secure the liquid. Our industrial hole punch creates spaces in the foam tiles so the bags can be zip-tied to the tiles. We have had a few leak over the last few months of use, but overall they hold up great.

Baby Prom Music

The bulk of the program involved our little over one-hour playlist and a variety of manipulatives to keep the little ones engaged. We used a combination of popular music and upbeat kid favorites.

Since the little ones were not interested in dancing for an hour straight (much to my dismay), we planned for a variety of manipulatives that were distributed at regular intervals, including:

  • Shaker Eggs
  • Bells
  • Scarves
  • Puppets
  • Bubbles
  • Balloons (part of balloon drop finale)

We left all items out on the dance floor till the end of the program, no matter when they were introduced.

Baby animal videos played on the big screen throughout the event.

Limo Rides

Babies could take a break from the dance floor to take a wagon limo ride provided by one of our teen volunteers. Not every baby participated, but one of our regular storytime attendees spent a majority of the program in a wagon because she enjoyed it so much.

Corsages

Parents could make a simple wrist corsage for their baby by layering colored felt flowers and weaving through a velcro strip.

Balloon Drop Finale

We planned to end our Baby Prom with a balloon drop finale. We wove together two dollar store tablecloths, attached them to the ceiling, and stuffed them with balloons. The balloon drop worked, though something in the execution wasn’t quite right, as all the balloons fell on me (the person pulling the string) instead of out of the other side of the tablecloth and onto the babies. It was a little awkward, but the babies didn’t seem to mind.

Baby Storytime Outline

These are the songs, rhymes, stories, and activities I used for a 25-minute baby storytime, followed by 20 minutes of free play.

Our baby storytime is for ages 0-24 months, with most children being 12-24 months old. Approximately 80 people attended this storytime, including about 45 babies.

Room Setup: Doors open about 5-8 minutes before storytime. Powerpoint slides are displayed on a smartboard at the front of the room with words to all songs and rhymes. As folks enter, two bubble machines are hard at work in the front of the room while baby songs play from the department iTunes account.

Welcome Song: Wake Up Feet (play from 0:14 to 1:00)
Wake up feet, wake up feet
Wake up feet and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wake up feet, wake up feet
Wake and wiggle in the morning.
Continue with: Legs, Arms, Hands

Welcome Rhyme: Clap and Sing Hello
We clap and sing hello,
We clap and sing hello,
With all our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing hello!
Continue with: kick and sing hello, wave and sing hello

Focused Early Literacy Tip: Talking to Your Baby (the LATS method described on jbrary)

Book: Peek-a-Baby by Karen Katz

Song: The Monkey Dance by The Wiggles

Bounce Rhyme: Five Little Monkeys
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mamma called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

Fingerplay: Itsy Bitsy Spider
The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Song: Little Red Wagon from Wiggleworms Love You

Movement Rhymes: This portion of my storytime involves 2-3 rhymes that specifically focus on bouncing, swaying, or tilting to the rhythm of the words. I talk about how these types of rhymes help develop phonological awareness.

  • The Baby Hop (to the tune: Bunny Hop)
    Snuggle up together
    Baby’s in your lap.
    Snuggle up together
    And clap, clap, clap.

    Snuggle up together
    Don’t you nap.
    Snuggle up together
    And tap, tap, tap

    You’re workin’ out together
    Baby don’t stop.
    You’re workin’ out together
    So hop, hop, hop.
  • A Bouncing We Will Go
    A bouncing we will go,
    A bouncing we will go,
    Hi ho the derry-o
    A bouncing we will go
    Continue with: Rocking, Tickling

Puppet Time: Who’s in the barnyard?
An oink, a moo, a cockle-doodle-doo
Who’s in the barnyard playing peek-a-boo?
Featuring: cow, pig, sheep, chicken, horse

Manipulative Time: Bells

  • Manipulative Rhyme: We Shake and Shake
    We shake and shake and shake and stop.
    We shake and shake and shake and stop.
    We shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and shake and STOP!
    Continue with: Tap, Bounce

Closing Song: Skinnamarink by Sharon Lois and Bram

Discovery Time Activities: Discovery Time is 15-20 minutes of free-play at the end of storytime that encourages parents to have time to talk to one another and for parents to interact with their children. I try to include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to my wide age range as well as a mixture of purchased toys and items that parents can remake at home. This week’s activities included:

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