Toddlers exploring light and light trails

Children’s first learning skills develop instinctively through their five senses. Sight, smell, touch, sound and taste all stimulate every child’s holistic development. This is why it is important to provide children with different opportunities to use their senses every day.


Jean Piaget, one of the child development theorists, talks about the “sensorimotor stage” all children go through before their second birthday.
In his studies he explains that this is the stage where youngsters learn solely through their senses. Sensory experiences trigger babies’ and toddlers’ curiosity and promote natural learning about the world around them. 

Children use the sensory skills of all five senses to send messages to their brains to proceed with different actions, which also helps the brain strengthen neural pathways for learning. By stimulating cognitive development, those kind of activities also form the basis of early literacy, memory and problem solving skills.


Recently one of our children has really developed an interest in visual stimulations and light effects, so we planned different activities to help us explore lights and the effects they create. At first we looked at a tree with lights which changed colours. The children were mesmerized by the different colours and they all wanted to have a go at touching it. A few of the children commented by saying “wow, lights, blue, green, oh no”. Next we put the light tree inside our mirror unit and we counted how many reflections we could see in the mirrors. 

To follow on from this we also explored light trails with torches and all the children had a go at holding the torches against the walls. We also played with a little green frog toy, which had lights on its back and was reflecting stars and a moon on the surfaces around it. The frog was button operated and the children enjoyed switching the lights on and off. As well as its lights we also enjoyed the different sounds playing out of the toy.

Those activities were great in supporting children’s sight sense and promoting visual learning. The lights and the effects prompted a fun atmosphere and high level involvement. As the children were very keen to explore activities for longer periods of time, we used the opportunities to explore simple science, use number language and introduce new vocabulary to our toddlers.

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