This activity expands the world of the youngest children in your setting, as well as encouraging their relationship-building. It is best suited for children between eight and 20 months.
Follow our simple step-by-step guide to have a go at this activity today:
What you will need:
- Baby-wearing items (e.g. sling, baby carrier, etc..). For suggestions, check out TNL’s Top 5 Baby Carriers and Slings
- Toys/items from your baby room that are familiar to your Early Years
Preparing the activity:
- Designate a room or area for the children to visit. Ideally this should be somewhere they rarely, if ever, see. For example, this could be an older children’s classroom or play area.
- Make sure the area being visited has been made suitable for the younger children’s visit (e.g. removing children’s safety scissors, etc.)
- If using an older children’s classroom, ensure the children have been told they are going to have visitors and to be calm when they arrive, in order to avoid startling the younger ones. It may also help to separate part of the room so more mobile toddlers can explore the space without disturbing/being disturbed by older children.
- Collect some familiar toys or items from the baby room, to take along if the children struggle with the unfamiliar space.
Doing the activity:
Depending on the age and ability of your children, prepare them for their visit to a new place. For younger children this could be securing them in pushchairs or a baby sling, and for older children this could be telling them about the trip so they are mentally prepared for walking into a new place.
If children are feeling overwhelmed at the unfamiliar room (which may be much busier or noisier than they are used to), make sure they are fully aware of your presence by sitting them on your lap with sensitive touches and gestures. It might help to introduce a familiar toy or item from the baby room to increase the feeling of security.
Children may enjoy interacting with older children from the security of your lap. Enable older children to feel like they can approach you and engage with the child, but ensure you just act as a comfort for the child and a passive observer — encourage any interaction between the children to be one-on-one. More mobile toddlers may be keen to approach and join in with older children. Stay close to the child so they have you as a safety net, if needed, but encourage all interaction between the children to go directly, without using you as an intermediary.
Observe how your children interact with the older children, and how this compares to their interactions with you as a familiar face.
Tracking the activity:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships: “Responds when talked to, for example, moves arms and legs, changes facial expression, moves body and makes mouth movements.; Recognises and is most responsive to main carer’s voice: face brightens, activity increases when familiar carer appears.; Responds to what carer is paying attention to, e.g. following their gaze.”
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships: “Seeks to gain attention in a variety of ways, drawing others into social interaction.; Builds relationships with special people.; Is wary of unfamiliar people.; Interacts with others and explores new situations when supported by familiar person.; Shows interest in the activities of others and responds differently to children and adults, e.g. may be more interested in watching children than adults or may pay more attention when children talk to them.”