What happens when your senses are sharpened

On the senses, get set, go!

Earth - sometimes it is crumbly, sandy, muddy, firm, hard or soft - and it is always full of challenges for the senses. In the first few months of life, children are still very close to the earth, lying on their stomachs on the floor, crawling and crawling, carefully examining every little crumb they find. They pick it up, look at it, rub it with their fingers and - if the adults around them aren't careful - put it in their mouths.
For children, earth is not dirty, not "uh!", As adults often warn, but an interesting matter that needs to be explored with all your senses.
Small children still have a very unbroken relationship with the earth. You are exploring and want to get to know the earth - and all of your senses are involved.
Sensory perceptions are always connected with feelings, with astonishment, joy, fear, excitement or tension. As the children get older, crawling and crawling across the floor is no longer so natural. Their parents often wean them off their interest in the earth. But once the earth has been released in kindergarten, it won't be long before children are crouching on the ground again. They kneel and lie down to see the earth up close and to touch it. This is how the supposed dirt becomes a place full of treasures. With stones, roots, leaves, beetles, worms or ants that raise questions in the children.

All senses are awake!

Touching and touching, observing and discovering, finding and marveling. In order for these processes to arise, situations and occasions are required that arouse the child's interest and make them curious - those in which they can take action themselves. The senses are like antennas through which the child communicates with the environment. They are the interface between inside and outside, between people and the world. For children, sensual perception represents the access to the world. It is the root of every experience through which the world around them can be rebuilt and understood.

Temperatures (warm or cold), textures (rough or smooth), shapes (angular or round) - our skin is constantly receiving signals.

The senses provide the child with many impressions about their environment and about themselves. Sensory perception is the basis of all knowledge: what is sensory leads to new questions and further research. At the same time, the ability to perceive is further differentiated, the child's self-activity is stimulated and the ability to observe is practiced:

  • Why is wet soil heavier than dry sand?
  • Why does walking in the gravel leave no traces?
  • Where do you get to when you dig a hole in the ground and get deeper and deeper?

In playing with the elements of nature, the children gain first-hand experiences that are not processed and evaluated by others, but rather arise from their own actions.

Experience the world with all your senses Playing with earth, water and sand gives children deeply sensual pleasure. The skin is the most extensive sense organ in our body. On the one hand, we passively perceive touch through the skin, but at the same time we actively explore our environment through touch. Does an object feel warm or cold, is it pointed, square or round?
The tactile bodies - small cones in which sensitive nerve cells are located - sit right under the skin. When they feel slight pressure when they touch the skin, they generate a tiny electrical signal. It is conducted to the brain via the nerve tracts. There the information is evaluated (pleasant or disgusting?) And compared with previous experiences. Actions are initiated that lead to new perceptions. Most of the tactile bodies are found on the palms of the hands, fingertips and the soles of the feet. We are particularly sensitive here. With our fingertips, however, we can also perceive the most differentiated.

Not all earth is created equal

Children and adults have very different perspectives on the ground, on the earth. Adults barely notice the place they stand and walk in unless it's slippery, slippery, or uneven. Then it says: “Watch out!” Soil is usually seen as potting soil - a place where we can bring flowers and plants and where we remove weeds. Adults often avoid direct contact with soil and wear rubber gloves.
Children have a completely different relationship to the earth - they perceive it as an elementary material that needs to be carefully examined. In addition, it offers them many stimuli to play. It is interesting for them to have a piece of open ground in the kindergarten. This pristine earth invites you to dig holes, investigate layers of soil and lay dams. In order to take up the topic of earth more intensively in the kindergarten (and not leave it to the random play of the children), the children can collect different types of earth in buckets: from the field, from the forest, from the meadow, from the garden, the stream, so that dig in them, dig with hands or shovels, and explore them.
The children find out that soil can be dry and sandy. The more clay it contains, the better it sticks and can be shaped and designed. When mixed with water, the consistency changes, the sandy earth becomes a sticky mass, a lump that can be easily shaped. It is exciting to find out which soil contains more sand, loam or humus. To do this, we need bare hands, fingers that feel, rub and press. Is the ground soft or hard, dry or damp, ticklish or slippery? The qualified pedagogue Gisela Walter notes that children explore and report on all of this. Sniffing also helps: Do the different types of earth smell different? In addition to the usual sandpit, there can also be an earth box in the kindergarten. Edged with boards or just piled on the floor. You can build an earth castle on it, let trucks and cars drive on it, roll balls. The children can go in search of microorganisms.

Earth and water

The two elements earth and water are among the most beautiful play materials for children. If they are mixed together, a “fifth element” is created - the mud. It awakens the children's creative play in a special way. The meaning of the mud is brought out by playing, it is interpreted by the children. It has no meaning but itself. Earth, clay, mud and sand are materials that are open to a variety of play ideas. The material does not determine the playing behavior, it allows a variety of playing styles and interpretations. Some children are reluctant to play with earth and hardly dare to dig, dig, muddy and muddy with their hands in the earth. This is usually the result of an exaggerated thinking about hygiene and cleanliness fanaticism on the part of many parents who are indignant about the dirt.

Who lives on and in the ground?

A large meadow invites you to run, romp and play with chasing and catching. But there are also many small animals living in the meadow that are barely visible to the naked eye. Children can keep an eye out for soil animals. Sometimes these are also hidden under a stone, a floor slab. They are often so tiny that they can only be viewed with a magnifying glass. But then unexpected discoveries open up. The soil animals make the earth fertile, they eat the fallen leaves and withered grass and leave behind nutrients that the plants need to live. The children's zeal for research has not yet given way to the fear or disgust that many older children express when they encounter the small animals (spiders, earthworms, beetles). They follow their path with excitement and watch their movements. A discovery can quickly lead to further questions. On a foray
Tom has discovered a molehill across the meadow - a large heap of brown, freshly churned up earth. “Does a mole live in there?” He asks, because he has met the mole several times in picture books and stories. Some had names, one was called Manfred. But Tom had never seen a mole before. That's why he goes on a search: First he digs his hands into the mound, then with a shovel. He digs deeper and deeper into the mound, pushes the earth aside and lo and behold - there is a hole to be seen. A hole that leads even deeper into the earth, the entrance to the mole passage. Now the hand, the arm, are the better graves.
Jule crouches next to it and watches with interest: "What if the mole bites you now?" A conversation develops about the mole that lives underground: Is it blind? But how can he see where he's digging? Many questions are asked, the children come to the answers by themselves. Or through the explanations of the pedagogical specialist, who attentively accompanies the children's activities and encourages them in their questions. The mole lives under the meadow, we recognize his apartment by the many mounds of earth he pushes up. Under the earth he dug a large labyrinth with many tunnels. He is always at work, digging new passages with his shovel paws and creating storage chambers, including a soft nest of grass and hay, for the mole babies.

The senses and the body are trained in nature

Although most people are endowed with an average level of sensory perception from birth, this basic ability must be practiced, especially in childhood, through constant adaptation to situations, things and demands. The more diverse sensory and motor functions are practiced, the more confident children become in their movements and the better they are able to cope with the daily challenges to their senses and their fine and gross motor skills. A natural design of the outdoor area in the kindergarten, a trip to the forest, play and exercise activities on an uneven meadow, climbing up hills and running down again - these situations challenge the children. Their equilibrium system and their coordination of movements are given opportunities for training - which is usually associated with exertion and physical exertion, but at the same time is great fun for the children.

Dirt? A school for the senses!

Children still have an antenna for everything that concerns their elementary sensory perception, which forms the basis of their life and learning. A school of the senses can arise anywhere - also and above all in nature! There the world of passive consumption can be countered with opportunities for eventful, active activity. Meadows, forests, fields and gardens can become places of learning and experience. All senses are sharpened, the body is challenged and its strength is used when it comes to keeping your balance on slippery surfaces or climbing a steep hill.
Authentic experiences are possible here, in which the child experiences himself to a large extent as a self-cause. And the dirt? The external traces of playing with earth and mud can be quickly rinsed off with a water hose. The inner traces, however, are lasting, they persist for years into adulthood.

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