Play and Explore

  • ball
  • bubbles
  • favorite toy
  • meat trays (clean)
  • tactile materials

Play and Explore

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care. All rights reserved.

Babies learn about objects with their eyes, ears, hands, mouths, and actions. As they explore, they learn how they can move their bodies and use them to make things happen.

Young babies learn actions—such as pushing, reaching, and grasping—that help them explore objects in new ways. Introduce actions as you coo and talk with a baby. Encourage him to repeat the actions after you.

  • Push a favorite toy close to him and have him push it back to you.
  • Give a baby a ball to explore on his own. After a few minutes, encourage him to roll it, drop it, or pick it up again.

Older babies can get around to explore more easily. Many babies can use their fingers and hands to explore and play in more complex ways.

  • Blow bubbles and encourage a baby to go after a bubble. Blow them close to the floor if he is a crawler and up a bit higher if he is a walker.
  • Keep a baby’s hands exploring by filling clean meat trays with different tactile materials, such as cornmeal, dough, finger paint, or oatmeal. Talk about the textures as you explore together.

When a baby is intent on play, you may want to just watch and follow his lead. If you cue into when he is beginning to lose focus, you may be able to extend his exploration with words and actions. For example, you can:

  • Talk about what he’s doing.
  • Play a back-and-forth or imitation game.

Offer an additional object to make the game more interesting.

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