Your preschooler’s brain is a wonder to behold. It’s developing at the speed of light (not quite an Einstein, but getting there.) She is learning the complex task of problem solving and learning how to think about things. Yet she still relies on touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight to make sense of her world. Teaching activities for hard and soft are an ideal backdrop for incorporating her senses as learning tools.
What's in the Bag?
A preschooler’s world is governed by her five senses. This exercise uses the sense of touch to initially distinguish between hard and soft. An old pillowcase will do to conceal the treasures that you can find around the house such as a rock from the garden (free from dirt preferably), a cuddly Teddy bear, cotton ball, a piece of satin, a block, a book--anything that will fit in the bag. If you can’t find a suitable bag, use a box. Let your child feel around in the bag without letting her look inside. (This is the best part, Mom, cause you can sit--finally.) Without taking her chosen object out to see what it is, have her describe it as hard or soft. After she decides, she can take it out. Have her make two piles: one hard stuff, one soft stuff.
Make a Collage
This activity could get a little messy, so put down an old towel on the table to protect it from glue. Take your preschooler for a walk through the house, the yard, the park or even the garage. Have her select objects that she finds interesting (provided they’re not alive, dangerous or belong to someone else) that she believes to be hard or soft. Just keep in mind that everything will be pasted on a piece of cardboard, so before your collection is bigger than the Smithsonian’s, bring it back to make a collage. Have her separate hard from soft. Let her look at it, touch it and smell it--provided it isn’t too odorous. Now paste! Make one area of the cardboard hard stuff and the other soft stuff.
Most kids love this activity because it involves eating. Provide foods that have soft consistencies, such as marshmallows (yum), soft caramels, fresh buns, peaches, bananas and grapes. Now find edibles that are hard, like carrots, apples, ice cubes, potatoes, sweet peppers and hard candy. (Keep an eye out for choking hazards.) Let your youngster feel, smell and handle each food before tasting it. Then let her determine whether it’s soft or hard.
If you don’t own a Fido, you can use your cat, hamster, mouse, or any gentle creature with soft fur and hard nails. (In other words, don’t use the neighbor’s guard dog.) Ask Fido to sit quietly and allow your preschooler to pet and hug your dog. Ask her to feel its fur--soft or hard? Assuming Fido is a very loving and gentle sort, let her feel his nails on each paw--soft or hard? If he’s wearing a collar--soft or hard?