Babies explore with as many senses as possible. The brain develops deep understandings of each experience (to pat, sniff, lick, drop and listen to a shell gives a good idea of ‘shell’). Offer pēpi moments to explore and provide language for them.

Why do it?

  • Baby can use several of their senses together to thoroughly explore something.
  • In this activity, they’ll use their senses of sight, touch, hearing and possibly smell. This will strengthen many connections in and between those areas of the brain.
  • When whānau share the activity by giving baby words that describe what they’re exploring, and for their actions (‘parallel talk’), baby will understand more words and their meanings.

How to do it

  • Let them explore at their own pace and repeat interesting actions with someone familiar nearby, who’s acting as baby’s ‘personal adviser’ on the world.
  • Find a basket or container and put a few household or natural items in it with different, interesting textures.
  • Think about the number of items that will give baby variety without being too overwhelming. 3 or 4 would probably do at one time and can always be changed.
  • Make sure everything in the basket is safe for baby to explore with hands and mouth. Check for size, loose bits or sharp edges. 
  • Show the basket to baby and ask them to choose something. Baby may need encouragement to pick an item.
  • Show them how to touch and experience the object’s texture.
  • Give baby the words that match the experience. For example, ‘Fluffy. That’s your fluffy cloth’. Show baby how it feels on their skin.

Using more te reo Māori

Te reo Māori English
Ngā rawa māori, ngā rawa taiao Natural resources
Rongo kakara Sense of smell
Rongo tāwara Sense of taste
Rongo whakapā Sense of touch
Soft to touch
Be gritty
Kei te rongo ahau tētahi mea newanewa I can feel something soft
Homai tō ringaringa Give me your hands
Me pēhea te pā? How does it feel?