Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

Babies are fascinated with faces from birth. Babies as young as two days old may start to mimic the facial expressions of their main carer. Copying the expressions that they see helps the babies to explore the control for their facial muscles in preparation for the time that they that they start to will fully produce their expressions in responses to reflect their emotions. As babies grow older they will also start to recognise and respond to others facial expressions, for example if they see a smile they will respond with an answering smile. Learning to copy facial expressions, the meaning/emotions behind different expressions and becoming aware of how their own face moves is an important part of understanding non-verbal communication.

Equipment Required

  • Mirrors
  • scarves
  • sticky dots


Two to three weeks

How it works

Adults and children interact and try to copy facial expressions.  With very young babies there is no need to use the mirrors just concentrate on the facial interaction between carer and child.  Older babies learn to imitate more complex facial expressions and also explore their own sense of self awareness using a mirror.

What to do in the class

For young babies

Tell the adults to hold their children fairly close to you so that they can see their faces clearly.  Slowly poke their tongues out while looking into their babies eyes.  It may take a minute or so but repeating this you will notice that the babies will imitate you by sticking their own tongue out.  Try other expressions like a big smile or a big open mouth or wide eyes.

For older babies

Give each child and parent a mirror. Have the baby on mums lap, looking outwards and the mirror in front of them. Have the parent talk to their child in the mirror and point out the features on their faces – this is your nose, this is your head, this is your ear. Say hello. Play peek a boo by moving in and out of the mirror. With older children ask them to touch their own faces or to make it even harder, can they touch their mummy’s nose whilst looking at the reflection!

The next week bring in props such as coloured scarves or small sticky dots to put on their faces and their child’s and see them in the mirror. Do happy face, sad face into the mirror – can the older children do the same expressions.

With the older children, they could try to follow things that mum does in the mirror like smile, raise their eyebrows, blink, blow a raspberry, stick out your tongue, screw up their face etc.

Training Videos

Mirror Mirror-1 from MAD Academy on Vimeo.

What to do in a nursery setting

If there are a limited amount of carers, put the mirrors on the floor for young babies.  Encourage tummy time so that the babies can see themselves reflected in the mirrors.  Encourage the staff that their are to interact with the babies and try to get them to copy their facial expressions.