Effective Practice Guides

Perception: Know

Goals for Infants and Toddlers

  • IT-PMP 1. Child uses perceptual information to understand objects, experiences, and interactions.
  • IT-PMP 2. Child uses perceptual information in directing own actions, experiences, and interactions.

Teaching Practices


Encourage children to use their senses to acquire information.
Ms. Ortiz secures several older infants in the big stroller and takes them on a looking and listening walk in the neighborhood. She stops frequently to point out the sights and sounds. Her passengers respond with pointing and babbles. When they pass a coffee shop, she adds "smelling" to the walk and encourages the children to sniff the fresh coffee and cinnamon buns. "Sofia, oler el café. Rafael, ¿Puedes oler la canela?" [Sofia, smell the coffee. Rafael, can you smell the cinnamon?]

Acknowledge children’s efforts and accomplishments.
During a group socialization session, Ms. Desmond, a home visitor, watches 28-month-old Mario as his mother, Ms. Estrada, teaches him and several toddlers a new finger play, Si yo pongo mis dos manos para arriba/If I Put My Two Hands Up. Ms. Desmond sees Mario quietly respond to the lyrics by putting his two hands up and then touching the ground. By the end of the finger play, Mario is also singing. Ms. Desmond says to Ms. Estrada, "Mario worked hard to sing and move his hands. After doing the finger play a few more times, he will be able to do it more easily."


Provide a variety of toys and play materials that offer sensory experiences.
Ms. Perez is the mother of Naomi, 4 months. Their home visitor, Ms. Hennessey, comments on a new mobile hanging from the ceiling. "Naomi must like that a lot," she says. "She sure does," says Ms. Perez, lifting Naomi in her arms so the baby can see and reach for the items on the mobile. Naomi bats the pompoms and shiny paper hanging from strings. Ms. Perez says, "The pompoms feel soft. The paper feels smooth." Ms. Perez rings the bell hanging from a piece of ribbon. Ms. Hennessey says, "Naomi is listening closely. She looked up to see where the sound came from."

Arrange the indoor and outdoor settings to encourage children to use perceptual information as they move their bodies and interact with others.
In the backyard of their family child care home, toddlers Jake and Lianna each sit on large foam blocks. Jake says to Lianna, "Let’s jump." They climb onto their blocks, stand still for a minute, then jump off. They repeat this again and again, each time jumping a little further away from their blocks.


Talk with a child about use of his or her senses.
Ms. Diaz is diapering 6-month-old Marta, a child with a visual impairment. She hands a rattle to Marta saying, "Shake, shake, shake your rattle. Can you hear the sounds you are making?" Ms. Diaz finishes the diaper change and puts Marta down on the carpet. She hands her a stuffed puppy and says, "Soft. This brown puppy feels soft," while helping her pet it. Marta coos and smiles, then pats the dog herself.

Invite a child to explore an object or substance using his or her senses.
Bennie, 32 months, is reluctant to try a new lunchtime vegetable. Ms. Agassi holds out the serving bowl and says, "This orange vegetable is called butternut squash. You can smell it before you try it." Bennie leans forward and smells the squash. "What do you think?" asks Ms. Agassi. Bennie says, "Okay," and puts a little squash on his plate. He tastes a bit, makes a funny face, then says, "It’s squishy. I like it."

Last Updated: July 30, 2018