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Science of the Human Body: Babies & Toddlers

waterChildren are very interested in their bodies. Observing and asking questions about the human body allows young children to explore such science concepts as diversity, variation and how certain structures have certain functions. Does everyone in my family have the same eye, hair and skin color I have? How does my wrist move, and what can I do because my wrist moves like that? And how are my toes similar to and different from my fingers? Explore these different concepts of body science with your baby or toddler.

Name that part: Helping young children learn names of the various parts of their bodies is something most parents do automatically. This vocabulary is very important to children’s language development. In terms of science though, the part’s name is only the beginning, since what this part does is of more scientific importance than the name. So, as you identify a particular part, take some time to talk about its function, too. “ I use my feet to stand and walk” and “That is your knee—it can bend to help you walk,” are both the kinds of statements that begin the process of understanding the functions of body parts.

Understanding senses: Continue with the identification of parts of the body and what they do by focusing on your child’s senses. The senses are your child’s first tools for learning about the world. Help your child make the connection between parts of the body and her senses. Make comments such as: “Here are my eyes, they help me see,” “I use my nose to smell,” &Ldquo;I use my tongue to taste,” “I use my ears to hear, my skin to feel,” etc.

Make some noise: Children are quite good at making sounds with their bodies. Encouraging them to do this is a really fun way to apply knowledge of the names of the body parts to some of their more unusual abilities and functions. Challenge your child to do things such as “Clap your hands,” “stomp your feet,” and “make noise with your lips.”

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