What you need: See descriptions below
What to do:
Provide interesting collage materials: brightly colored paper, swatches of different print and textured fabrics, and so on. (Take care she doesn't put any of these in her mouth.) Place a large sheet of clear contact paper on the floor with the sticky side up. Encourage your baby to select a piece of material and show her how to pat it on the sticky paper. She will be fascinated with the patting and sticking process and will enjoy looking at the colors, which you can name for her.
Cut a sponge into pieces that will fit comfortably in your baby's hand. Fill a shallow bowl about halfway with water. Let your baby experiment with dipping the sponges in the water and then squeezing the water out of the sponges. If he presses the damp sponges on a piece of construction paper, what happens? He will enjoy making lots and lots of water prints with the sponges.
Give your older baby large sheets of different materials: newspaper, brown paper bags, corrugated cardboard, aluminum foil, and waxed paper : to scribble on (big, thick crayons work best). Talk with her about how her crayon "slides," goes "bump-bump," or makes a "scribble-scrabble" when she uses it on different textures.
Wash your baby's hands. Put some dry cornmeal in a baking pan and let her "paint," with her fingers, making interesting swirls and designs. Then put a bib on her and lay out a sheet of aluminum foil. Put some drops of water on the surface and let her enjoy the slippery feeling of moving water on the foil with her fingers. You can also give her a large, brand-new paintbrush and let her "paint" the inside and outside of a big box with water.
Making an Impression
In a bowl, knead together 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, and enough water (about 1/2 cup) to create a simple, no-cook play dough. Let your baby pinch, poke, pat, and punch the ball of dough. Show her how to poke holes in the dough with her finger. Pat the ball flat. See what happens when she uses her hands as tools and presses down on the dough. Try making other impressions with a spoon or a cup.