Mirror!Mirror!On The Wall : 5 Fun Ways to Play and Learn with Mirrors
Around a certain age, babies love looking at themselves in the mirror – they just can’t get enough of their own smiling faces! However, studies that look at when children can reliably be seen to recognise themselves in a mirror found that this happens on average around the age of 18 months, with the vast majority of toddlers able to understand this concept by the age of two years.
Mirrors are more than just fun – for babies, mirrors are an important learning tool.The mirror game helps your baby learn how to focus, track images, and explore the wonderful things a face can do. Plus, it promotes social and emotional development as she interacts.
Here are 5 fun and creative mirror play activities:
Spot the mark
A fun way to figure out whether or not your little one actually recognises the reflection in the mirror as being them is to do the spot test. Put a sticker or other easily removable mark on their face – make sure he/she doesn’t notice you putting it there – then sit in front of the mirror with your toddler in front of you facing your reflections. If he/she notices the mark and tries to wipe his/her face to remove it then you’ll know he/she understands that the reflection is showing his/her image. Another way to test this is to hold up a favourite toy behind them where they can see its reflection. If they reach for the reflection of the toy you’ll know they have not quite grasped the concept yet, but if they turn and try to take the toy you’ll know they understand what the mirror is showing them.
Painting on a mirror
Watching your lines designs and clouds appear in duplicate is wonderful when you paint on a reflective surface. The way the paintbrush glides so smoothly over the mirror is lovely too. This activity always keeps the kids busy and entertained for ages. And when we’re finished, scrubbing the mirror clean is another fun activity in itself. Another fun twist to using paint is shaving cream. The foam, the fluffiness and the mess always adds magic to play!
Catch the bubbles
Have your infant or toddler try to “catch” bubbles as you slowly blow the bubbles against the mirror. This is a great way for infants to learn to follow with their eyes and is a great opportunity to increase hand-eye coordination. Have older toddlers practice getting dressed in the mirror. At first, this should be a simple task, such as putting on a jacket or socks. Praise every attempt the children make. This is great way to practice their motor skills.
Show your emotions
Get your toddler to sit next to you in front of a mirror. Demonstrate facial expressions that express a range of emotions—sad, happy, surprise, frustration, fear, or anger, for example. Challenge the child to name the emotion and to mirror it in the mirror. With experience, children can play the game with each other, taking turns making faces, naming emotions, and mirroring. Prepare an extension of the game by writing the names of emotions on index cards. Invite beginning readers to draw a card from the stack and showing the emotion the card directs.
What lies beneath
Reflections of loose parts. Use a framed mirror as a tray for table-top sensory exploration. Gather a variety of soft, textured, loose parts. You might choose materials from nature (leaves, twigs, feathers, and grass) or buttons, bricks, or stacking rings. The exploration changes when children can see both the top and underside of an object.
You could also try this activity with water. Pour about 3 inches of water in an outdoor sensory table or tub. Place mirror tiles on the bottom of the tub under the water. Invite children to look at themselves in the mirrors. Talk with the children about what they see. Invite children to disturb the water and to look for their images again. What happens as the water becomes still again? Invite the children to add a few floating materials to the tub—a flower, a sponge, a leaf. Compare the images when the water is still, slightly moving, and agitated. A great way for the little ones to get exploring.
While it’s great fun to play and get creative with mirrors, don’t forget to follow these precautions:
- Remember to sanitize the mirrors after every use to avoid the spread of germs and infectious disease.
- Mirrors must be acrylic and shatterproof.
- The mirrors must be secured to a wall or fixture whenever possible.