A-Z List

Infant Stimulation


The following program presents examples of activities in which music can be used to facilitate a child’s development to achieve specific milestones in five different developmental areas. The activities were adapted from Developmental Programming For Infants And Young Children: Stimulation Activities, by Sally Rogers and Diane D’Euginia (1979). The stimulation activities included represent only a sampling of activities and do not form a comprehensive program. It is hoped that this program will serve as a guide and a stimulus for developing a more comprehensive program which will meet the specific needs of each child.

The format for this program includes short-term objectives for several skills in each of the five developmental areas, with the skills being listed in the order in which they occur in a normal developmental sequence. It is important to note that not all children will follow this sequence exactly. Not all sources agree on the specific ages at which it is considered normal for a child to be able to complete these tasks. The age levels were included only to provide an organizational structure. Under no circumstances should this program be used to assess the developmental age of the child or to diagnose specific problems.

The purpose of this section is three fold: (1) to identify any behaviors which the child may be lacking so that work in this area may be undertaken; (2) to serve as a tool in describing a child’s comprehensive functionong; and (3) to offer ideas which can be adapted to meet the specific needs of each child.

Strategy of Implementation

Brown and Donovan (1977) proposed that the “general teaching strategy used to implement the stimulation program with the young child be fourfold: 1. An adult introduces the child to the activity, showing materials, demonstrating how to use them, and verbalizing the actions involved. The child may explore by touching, mouthing and holding the materials. 2. The adult physically moves the child through the activity while verbalizing each action involved. A gradual reduction in the amount of assistance may lead to a stimulus-response behavior in which the child completes an activity because it creates an interesting effect. 3. The adult demonstrates and describes the activity and waits for the child to imitate. Physical assistance is only given when the child does not complete the activity after several demonstrations. 4. The adult creates a situation and waits for the child to act. The child experiments and may initiate their own way of completing the activity. If the child does not complete it, a verbal cue can be given (i.e., a request, a command, or a description).”

When numbers are used for the activities listed under the short-term goals, the activities should be carried out according to the numerical sequence.

Perceptual/ Fine Motor

Perceptual abilities refer to the interpretation of stimuli from various modalities providing data for the learner to make adjustments to the environment. Fine motor movements are inherent movement patterns that are formed from a combination of reflex movements. They provide a basis for complex skilled movements which by definition require a degree of efficiency while performing complex movement tasks based upon inherent movement patterns.

The justification of the use of the combination of these two areas to classify goals and objectives for the infant stimulation program is based on reflexive and developmental theory and supports the interrelationship between sensory perception and the acquisition of fine motor skills. Perceptual motor experiences rely on sensory input for integration and response. The importance of stimulation activities is rather obvious: the more stimulation a child receives, the greater the child's experience and thus, the richer the development.

Gross Motor (Brown & Donovan)

The gross motor section relies heavily on the theory that reflexive development is a precursor to the development of mature motor patterns….Developmental skills are aquired in this area through neuromuscular development, control of balance and equilibrium, and by the integration of many primitive reflexes. The child learns motor skills when encouraged to use the body in a variety of ways and to explore movement patterns in a free but safe manner.

Cognitive (Brown & Donovan)

“The cognitive section follows Piaget’s framework of sensorymotor and preoperational stages of cognitive development. The sensorymotor period of development (0-24 months) is the time in which the child learns to attach meaning to what one sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, and manipulates. The child must act on the environment in order to learn. As the child's understanding of causality, imitation, object permanence, and spatiality grows, behavior becomes more purposeful and goal directed. During this time the adult supplies the child with words to describe the world. The child also begins communicating with the adult through gestures, vocalizations, and finally, words. The child begins to remember past events and starts to formulate the concepts of the physical laws by which the world operates, such as gravity and object permanence.

At about 24 months, the child enters the preoerational period of development (2-6 years) in which learning continues on a more conceptual and symbolic level. The child begins to understand more abstractions and continues to learn new ways of ordering the environment, i.e., can use one toy or object in many ways.”


Stage I. Reflexive: The child moves in response to internal rather than external stimuli (0-2 months).

Stage II. Primary Circular Reaction: The child performs an act unintentionally which produces an effect and repeats an act to produce the effect again; i.e., knocks hand against a noisemaker unintentionally (3-5 months).

Stage III. Secondary Circular Reaction: The child performs a simple act repeatedly to produce an effect, i.e., Shakes a rattle (6-8 months).

Stage IV. Integration: The child uses and refines the skills developed in the above stages and begins to see that causes outside self produce an effect, i.e., reaches for a parent's hand to move a toy (9-12 months).

Stage V. Tertiary Circular Reaction: The child experiments with and explores objects, people, and actions to discover new properties in the environment, e.g., bangs and shakes a rattle (13-18 mmonths).

Stage VI. Representational: The child begins to solve problems mentally rather than always through motoric exploration and mnipulation (19-23 months).

Language (Brown & Donovan)

“The language section represents a variety of language theories including behaviorist and linguistic, but very primarily developed to reflect a developmental approach to language acquisition which can be easily understood by parents ad incorperated into normal family routines.

In the first year of life the child moves from the stimulus-response stage of crying to a differential selection of the sounds appropriate to the language of the culture. By the end of the first year, the child is able to correctly imitate many syllables and some single words. In the second year the child learns that people and objects have names and that names can be combined with other types of words to produce an effect, e.g., ‘baby go’ results in a walk in the park; ‘Mama cookie’ gets the child something to eat. By the end of the first year the child has mastered many of the linguistic rules necessary to express a variety of communication needs.”

Social/Emotional (Brown & Donovan)

“The social/ emotional section reflects recent attachment- separation theory. The years between birth and three have a major impact on a child’s social/ emotional development. A parent to whom a child can attach self and later begin to identify with is crucial to normal development.

During the first three years, a child learns that they are an entity separate from the mother or father and yet dependent on them to meet their needs. The child learns that they have a sex, a name and an age. The child learns that there are others with whom one must share parent's love, things one cannot have and actions one must perform (eating, bathing, and sleeping). The child learns expression through crying, tantrums, and eventually, through verbal and body language. The child achieves a measure of independence by pulling away from adults, saying no, and controlling other children’s use of their possessions. The child's play is the child's work and through it the child learns about the environment.

Preoperational Period (2-6 Years)

The child differentiates words and images from the objects and events which they represent. The subdivisions of the section are matching, numerosity, causality, sorting and visual and auditory memory.