Environment: Explore on the floor!
Since infants and toddlers spend a good deal of time on the floor, it's the perfect place to create a learning space. Here are a few ideas:
Floor Images: Cover with contact paper pictures of people and objects of interest to children, including babies, animals, toys, staff members, and children's family members and tape the pictures to the floor. As children crawl and toddle about the room, draw their attention to the images. When children focus on an image that holds their gaze, describe it: "You see a doggie. Ruff goes the doggie!" or "I see you found a mommy. That looks like a nice mommy."
Texture Under My Toes: Collect fabric samples, including pieces of velvet, burlap, and corduroy. Tape the samples to the floor. As children move about, have them explore the different textures with their hands and feet.
Tunnels for Tots: Use large cardboard appliance boxes (open at both ends) or fabric tunnels to construct simple pathways for children to move through in the room. Changing the tunnel's path regularly will help keep the experience interesting and challenging.
Feet on the Floor: Cut out hands and feet of various sizes (from the size of children's own hands and feet to giant size representations) from cardboard and attach them to the floor. As infants and toddlers move about the room, have them place their own hands and feet on top of the cutouts. Talk about how big some of the cutouts are in comparison to their own and how some of them are a perfect match!
Little Ladders: Attach masking tape to the floor to represent a ladder. Have toddlers "climb the ladder" by stepping over each "rung." Later, use the masking-tape ladder for other gross-motor activities. For example, ask toddlers to hop over each rung, jump inside each square between the rungs, or take giant steps to climb the ladder.