Once you become an adult, so many things in life become automatic. We eat, we bathe, we get dressed, and we rarely take the time to examine how we do those things. For our little ones, some of these tasks are still relatively new and can also be challenging. We used a mirror to “follow” us around for the day so we were able to watch ourselves as we did routine activities and examined our faces/emotions throughout our routines from the kitchen to the kids bathroom. When you take the time to watch and really examine how these actions are done, it can be quite fascinating! And even better, it’s as if you are the star of your own reality TV show!
My son can sometimes be a picky eater. Having battled with him many times to eat whatever meal was in front of him, I decided one day to place a mirror at his seat and let him see what happens to food when he chews and swallows. Now, in most cases I try to teach him to chew with his mouth closed, but I explained that, for purposes of this experiment only, he could eat however he wanted.
My son decided that for this activity, instead of one particular food, he wanted to try several different things on crackers to see if they looked the same or different when they were eaten, considering that they varied in flavor, texture, color, etc. He would open his empty mouth and examine it. Then, he would take a bite of his cracker and open his mouth back up to see the food inside. After he started to chew, he would periodically open his mouth wide again to see how the food was being broken down. Upon swallowing, he would peek back in to see if the food was really gone.
This activity then led to a discussion about what happens to food after it is swallowed – a nice little science and anatomy lesson. You just need to decide, um, how “far” you want to go with this, if you know what I mean. Not only did I get my son to eat his lunch, he learned something too!
Following lunch, we used the mirror to explore emotions. I would call out an emotion and he would examine his expression in the mirror. We practiced what it looked like to be happy, sad, surprised, shy, mad, and so forth. Ask a child to make an angry face while looking at himself in the mirror and see how long it takes until he starts to smile!
Later the same evening, we decided to extend the mirror play even more. My son just turned three and, with a baby sister now in the house, I have been trying to get him to be slightly more independent – putting on his own shoes and socks, feeding himself (another reason for the lunchtime mirror play), and washing himself in the tub. I set up the mirror for him on the edge of the bathtub, gave him his soapy sponge, and challenged him to wash his own face and hair.
My son was very careful and methodical as he cleaned his face. He turned his head every which way to make sure the shampoo covered all of his hair. He tried to watch what happened when he poured water on his head to rinse, but found that to be difficult since water kept dripping into his eyes (I offered my assistance in pouring it on the back of his head so it wouldn’t go in his face). He concentrated very hard on what he was doing, at first. Then he got silly. He had a blast scooping up bubbles and making hats, beards, and mustaches with them (he looked like the game “Wooly Willy”). He definitely rose to the challenge and, let me tell you, his face and hair were probably the cleanest they have ever been. He took such care to get every last nook and cranny!
Just a quick note: If you are not using a mirror with child-safe glass, please take extra care and do not leave your child unattended or unsupervised with the mirror.
Here’s a little poem my son and I wrote together for this activity:
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is growing big and tall?
I can watch ME bathe and eat
Because it’s really very neat
To see how I do what I do!
Why don’t you go and try it too?
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