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Infant - Week #45

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Building Blocks and Candid Pictures

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Encouraging Your Baby's Development
           Your ten-month-old is busy.  He is learning about the world around him by investigating using all five senses.  When it's playtime, his sense of touch is helping him develop an understanding of how things work.  He will shake, bang, and turn toys around with his hands.  Your baby's attention span can largely determine the toy(s) he plays with.  Take the classic toy of jack-in-the-box, for example.  This toy plays music, has an element of anticipation and surprise, has a crank handle, is colorfully decorated, and contains intriguing images.  This toy captures the main three playtime senses (sight, hearing, and touch) and might possibly entertain your baby for quite some time.  Interactive toys like this one are great because they entertain your baby; but consider an opposing approach, one where your baby must entertain his toys.

       Not all toys need to be interactive to help your baby expand his knowledge of the world.  Playing with a jack-in-the-box can be a fun and entertaining experience; however, consider toys that will require your baby to tap into his creative side.  Building blocks, stacking cups, bristle blocks, and Lincoln Logs (even though these are tougher to stack) are great toys that offer a child the chance to experiment with cause and effect relationships, explore the idea of gravity, and use his imagination.  Building blocks help babies develop fine motor skills.  Your baby may not play with building blocks the same way older children may, but your baby's rate of cognitive development doesn't differ from that of a child who has already fine-tuned his block stacking abilities.  Soon after your baby learns how to grab, lift, and twist the blocks in his hands, he will begin to learn how to successfully stack them, thus improving his hand-eye coordination.  The following activities are designed to aid your baby in developing these crucial skills.  Model each activity for your baby; mimicking is what he does best at this stage of development!
  • Tumbling tower - Stack the blocks and knock them over.
  • Dancing blocks - Line all but one block up on the floor in one row.  Sing a song like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and dance one block across the row of blocks.  Your baby will love the sounds you make as you bang the blocks together in step with the rhythm of the song.
  • Block balancing - Place a block on your head.  Does your baby try to get it down?  How does he react?
  • Palms up - Hold a block in your palm.  Attempt to get your baby to hold his hand out flat.  Place a block in his hand.  How long does it stay there?  Can you stack more than one block in his palm before he moves or grabs for the blocks?
  • Dropping blocks - Drop blocks into a shallow plastic storage container or a basket.  Is your baby able to understand the dropping concept?  Is he more interested in getting the blocks out rather than putting them into the container?
  • Shapes galore - Make a square out of four blocks.  Trace your baby's hand/fingers around the perimeter of the square as you say the name of the shape.  Continue to make and trace shapes for rectangle, triangle (the blocks don't need to touch side to side), circle, diamond, etc.
  • Bang away - Bang two blocks together.
  • Does it roll? - Obtain a ball.  Demonstrate to your baby how you can roll a ball because it does not have any sides.  Then roll the block.  Does he seem to ponder why the ball rolled and the block refused to move?
  • Hide and seek - Allow your baby to watch you place one block into your pocket, up your sleeve, etc.  Does he seem interested in finding the block?
  • Connecting Blocks - Create a loop with a piece of tape and tape two blocks together.  This will defy his understanding of the blocks so far.  He assumes the blocks interact independently of one another.  By taping the blocks together he will need to reevaluate his thinking.  Does he see and play with the connected blocks as one solitary toy or does he seem to believe they should still act as separate pieces?  Does he attempt to pull the blocks apart?  What happens if you tape more than two blocks together?  Extension - use blocks that actually connect, like Legos, to further develop this concept.


  From A Parent's Perspective
           We spent the majority of our time playing connecting blocks and palms up.  My daughter enjoys playing with blocks.  Many of Reagan's blocks have little animals inside them.  She seems to really find pleasure in holding and staring at each of the animals, but these blocks were not very useful for the connecting blocks activity.  I tried to adhere the blocks together using Scotch tape and painter's tape (I didn't want to use anything stronger for fear the adhesive would make the blocks sticky), but the blocks did not hold together securely enough for handling.  Since the blocks were a little too heavy, I rounded up some of those classic wooden alphabet blocks, and they worked very well with painter's tape.  I couldn't help but laugh when she picked up a separate block and banged on the two blocks I had just connected.  It was almost as if she was trying to split them apart using a make-believe hammer.  We continued to connect blocks and when we were finished, she helped me pull the blocks apart.  She would squeal each time we'd free a set of blocks.  Needless to say, I think she enjoyed pulling them apart more than she was intrigued by how they could be connected together.

       As for the palms up activity, she had a difficult time keeping her hand open.  Typically, as Reagan crawls around the house in search of the next great discovery, she seems to always have a small plush toy in one hand.  So due to the fact that she usually has one hand partially gripping a toy, it was hard for her to submit and allow me to stack multiple blocks in her palm.  She wanted to squeeze the block, roll it around in her hands, etc. which is exactly what she should be doing at this stage of development.  I wonder when she will develop the patience and the dexterity for an activity like this one.  I have always encouraged her to clutch objects so when we did this activity she did not seem to understand that actually I wanted her to do the opposite.  To say the least, we will keep working!


  Your Little Scientist
           If your baby loves bath time, he loves playing with water.  Before giving your baby a bath tonight, collect a few household items to turn bath time into a scientific adventure.  Grab a kitchen colander and funnel, a clean non-chemical sponge, a clean empty milk carton with holes poked in the bottom, a set of bathtub crayons/markers, a few plastic cups or containers, a Whiffle ball, etc.  The items you choose do not need to be these specifically but rather items that are water safe and baby safe.  The goal is to provide your baby with a collection of items that are diverse in nature.  Encourage your baby to feel the water as it falls from the sponge, the colander, and the milk carton.  Discuss how it might feel and how you can change the action to create a different reaction.  Even if you do not consider yourself a scientist, you understand enough about how the world functions to pass along simplistic scientific concepts onto your baby.  Put on your scientific goggles tonight and have fun experimenting with the properties of water!


  Say Cheese!
           Newborn, three months, six months, nine months, one year, etc.  Some families are very diligent about having their baby's picture taken every three months during the first year.  Having pictures taken so many times in a year's time can become a little strenuous on the pocket book, but may be well worth the cost if you aren't too handy with a camera.  If you skip a few photo sessions here and there or never use a professional photographer, you might consider the benefits of taking some candid photos.  Even if you do follow the traditional picture schedule, candid pictures have the ability to capture a completely different perspective of your baby's growth and development.

       This sounds like an oxymoron, but plan to be spontaneous!  With older children you can very easily follow them around with the camera and be somewhat inconspicuous.  For example, send your older kids out to smell the flowers in the front yard...snap, snap, snap.  Encourage them to chase each other around the yard, slide down the slide, and walk hand in hand...click, click, click.  Occasionally ask them to freeze so you can take a few pictures.  Great pictures can come out of playful moments.  The same is true for babies.  While your baby is lying on her belly on the floor playing with a toy, quickly position yourself in front of her with the camera on and your fingers ready.  Babies are good at making eye contact and smiling upon initial interaction.  Play on this by saying her name and as soon as she looks up with the big beautiful grin take a series of pictures.  The majority of the picture should be of your baby, not the background images, so try to cut out the background of the picture by zooming in to capture the fullness of your little one's cheeks.  The more pictures you are able to take, the greater the chances are for getting a few great pictures.  Once you are ready to actually do something with your pictures, consider the following ideas for how you can use those candid pictures!

       Tips and Tricks:
  • Save all your pictures to your computer's hard drive and back them up often.
  • Invest in photo editing software for quick fixes, black and white photos, red eye reduction, and adding text to pictures.
  • Upload pictures to a photo center.  Many photo centers allow you to upload your pictures either online or right there in the lab.  Many photo centers can create invitations, announcements, holiday cards, and other photo gift ideas.
  • Create a monthly montage of pictures to be emailed to family and friends.  Send the file as a jpeg to ensure it can easily be viewed.  Note:  If you save a picture as a Publisher, PowerPoint, or other specific software files, some people may not be able to view the images because they don't have those particular software programs on their computers.
  • Gather the empty picture frames around your house and let your creativity fly.  If you have a hodgepodge of picture frames and you are not displaying pictures in them because they are not uniform, consider spray painting them all the same color.

       Decorating idea
  1. Print your favorite pictures in black and white.
  2. Spray paint your unused picture frames black.
  3. Obtain black ribbon, adhesive scrapbooking dots, white paper the size of the frame you intend to use, and a pair of scissors.
  4. Because your ribbon will be displayed along with your picture, be sure your picture is smaller than your frame.
  5. Make a bow with your ribbon, but do not cut off the strands of ribbon that hang from the bow.
  6. Place the ribbon on the white paper so that it is one inch below the top.
  7. Place your picture on top of the ribbon.  You should be able to see the bow above the picture and the two strands flowing down below the bottom of the picture.
  8. When the ribbon and picture look the way you want them to, cut off the strands of ribbon if they are too long.
  9. Use the scrapbooking adhesives to secure the ribbon and the picture to the paper.
  10. Display your picture and create a few more using the remaining black frames.  Display them together to create an appealing focal point.


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