Find things to stomp on! This is a toddler sensory activity that is also good to encourage language development.
When we talk about sound games for young kids, we tend to think of their hands. What can they touch, shake, or rattle to create sounds? Toddlers love to walk, kick, stomp, run and jump, too – all of which make noise. Toddlers and kids might be more in tune with the sound of feet and the ground than adults. Why is this? Since toddlers are a couple feet closer to the ground than adults, sound coming from the ground is louder to their ears than it is to ours. It’s more likely to catch their attention.
This game is extremely easy to do and it’s just how it sounds: Find things to stomp on. What you’re looking for is sounds that are different, unique, or out of the ordinary (including loud – that’s a favorite for some toddlers!)
Some ideas of things to stomp on:
- Concrete, leaves, grass, water (especially on concrete)
- Hollow objects like stairs, floors, decks
- Metal structures like bleachers or a jungle gym (if safe)
- Bubble wrap taped to the floor, crumpled up paper (if they won’t slip on it)
This is a good opportunity for building language, too. It’s great to ask, what do you hear? What does it sound like? Here’s some word ideas to describe what you’re hearing:
- Loud, big, soft, quiet
- Boomy, big, hollow, thin
- low, high, squeaky
- bright, crispy, crunchy, rattling
You can also use play sounds to go along with what you hear. These can be real words or just sounds that imitate what’s happening. Toddlers love using these “environmental sounds” and it can help with language development.
boom, kaboom, thud, crash, bang, pound, pop
whoosh, vroom, shooo, sss, pah, tink (make up your own!)
You may need a few sound ideas ready to keep a toddler’s attention. Once we (adults and kids) hear a sound for a while, we don’t really notice it anymore because our ear adapts to it being there. That’s why the squeaky shoes might be the most interesting thing in the world to a toddler… for the first three minutes. To really catch a toddler’s ear, you have to think like a toddler. What sounds around them right now might be interesting?
Fun fact for adults: For film and tv, there’s a sound job called Foley and one of their tasks is recording footsteps! A Foley stage has small areas of different surfaces such as tile, concrete, hardwood, hollow wood, gravel/dirt, grass (recreated using cassette tape). The Foley crew will watch a scene to see what surface the actor is walking on and also what kind of shoe. A sneaker sounds different from a dress shoe or barefoot. These sounds are mixed in to the other elements of a film (dialog, music, etc). If it’s done well, you may not even notice it’s there!