Exploring The 5 Senses in Early Childhood will help young children identify and discover the body parts that are used to gain sensory information: Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands.
The activities suggested below will offer opportunities for hands-on play with the senses of: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, and Touch. Through play and experimentation, the children will develop an awareness of how The 5 Senses are used to gain knowledge about their world.
Introduction to The 5 Senses
In order for children to explore The 5 Senses, they must be able to locate the 5 primary body parts that provide sensory information: Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, and Hands. Allow for plenty of time for play with mirrors. Ask the children to identify the different body parts they see in the mirror. The children can also partner with peers and use magnifying glasses for discoveries (the children will think it’s funny to look at each other with magnifying glasses, but they are gaining important information!)
The5 Senses Lotto game is a wonderful introductory game! The game allows children to identify The 5 Senses, distinguish between how each of the senses are used, and match the 24 picture cards to the illustrations on the 4 game boards. The game boards contain symbols that help the children identify the sense that is being used in the pictures. The symbols are a great guide for young children who are just beginning to understand how their bodies work!
The Sense of Sight – Nature%20Walk%20Record%20Sheet.pdf
In many locations, spring offers wonderful opportunities to implement activities that allow children to focus on the sense of sight. As winter fades, nature awakens and signs of spring appear. Take your children on a nature walk outdoors. Make a list of all the things the children see on their walk. Download and print the recording sheet (linked in blue above) for each child. How many of the items did the children find on the walk?
*Note for teachers/parents – the second page of the recording sheet file is left blank. Brainstorm the signs of spring that children might be able to see while on a walk outside. Have the children draw or cut pictures out of old magazines to glue in each of the blank squares. Talk a walk outside to see how many of the items the children actually see.
If digital cameras are available, take a camera (or two) along! Let the children take pictures of the things they see on a walk. Print the pictures for the children to see if they can sequence the photos to make a timeline of their outdoor adventures. The photos also make wonderful “story starters” for storytelling or writing practice.
The Senses of Taste and Smell – Favorite%20Flavor_Taste.pdf
Materials needed: Milk, water, or another liquid that flavoring can be added to, various flavors for the children to try (for example: strawberry, vanilla, cinnamon, mint, cherry, etc. –*please note any allergies among your students before doing this experiment in the classroom), 3 oz. cups (enough for each child to taste test at least 2 different flavors), cupcake liners/paper towels (to shield the color from the taster), straws, crayons or markers, and one recording sheet (linked above) for each child.
This activity is best when used as a small group activity. Pour a small amount of liquid into small cups for each child. Have the children use their sense of smell to explore the different flavorings or spices that will be used during the experiment.
The children might also enjoy making smelling jars to explore different scents.
Place the cupcake liners (or paper towels) over each of the cups and poke a straw through the center of the liner. Have the children taste test each of their cups (one at a time) and then predict which flavoring was added to the cups. The group(s) can record their flavoring predictions on the recording sheet and then graph (color in one square or write their name in the appropriate box) for the flavor they liked best.
The Sense of Touch – 3-D Feel and Find Game
Teaching children to isolate different senses provides an opportunity to enhance their knowledge of how sensory information is obtained. The 3-D Feel and Find Game will help the children in discovering the sense of touch. The game comes with twenty wooden shapes, a durable cloth bag, and twenty matching 3-D textured tiles.
For very young children, begin the game using only 3 or 4 different shapes and tiles. Have the children match the desired shapes to the corresponding textured tiles. After the children have matched the shapes, place all of the shapes into the bag. Hold up one of the textured tiles and ask a child to reach inside the bag to locate the corresponding shape by touch alone. As the children gain confidence in using the sense of touch, more complex shapes can be added to the bag. It is a game that can grow along with your child as skills develop.
Extension Activity: Place several shapes inside the bag. Have the children feel on the outside of the bag and try to count how many shapes are inside the bag. Hold up one of the textured tiles and ask the children to find the corresponding shape by feeling the outside of the bag. When the corresponding shape is found, have one child remove the shape from the bag and place it in the appropriate tile.
Can the children guess which sense (besides the sense of TOUCH) they are using when feeling the OUTSIDE of the bag?
Sense of Hearing – Sensory Sound Shakers
Materials needed: Assorted items with different sounds (ex: bells, small counters, balls, rice, beans, small stones, buttons, etc.) and 6 small containers to hold the items (frog-shaped plastic egg containers are pictured at the beginning of this post, but other plastic eggs, small cookie boxes, small plastic containers with lids, cardboard tubes sealed with waxed paper at both ends, or empty milk cartons can be used.)
Fill 3 containers with different items as suggested above. Make a second set of 3 containers that are filled with identical items (there will be 3 pairs of matching shakers when finished.) Randomly set the filled containers out on a table or the floor. Have the children shake the containers and try to determine what is inside by the SOUND it makes. If desired, chart the responses from the children while introducing the sound activity. Let the children explore the shakers and try to match the ones that sound alike. After the children have had time to match the sounds and explore the shakers, reveal the items inside the containers. This activity can be used over and over by exchanging the items that are inside the containers.
If the children have access to mobile technology at home or in the classroom, there are additional sound games to play with the children here.
Sensory Bins for Learning and Play
Creating a sensory bin with your child is a fun way to extend activities based on The Five Senses.
The spring sensory bin (pictured above) contains items from nature, feathers, foam butterflies and bunnies, shredded paper, grasses, textured eggs, and prickly balls with a lavender scent. *Again, please note any allergies in the children before allowing them to play with items/scents.
Show the children all of the items in the sensory bin. As the children use their senses to explore and play with the items, ask the children what words might describe some of the items. Help the children increase their vocabulary skills by brainstorming different words for the various textures/scents in the sensory bin (for example: crinkly, prickly, soft, smooth, bumpy, shiny, hard, woodsy, slimy, gooey, sweet, coarse, lemony, minty, etc.) As the children become more familiar with descriptive words, the sensory bin will provide opportunities for using the new words daily.
For MORE great sensory products, check out Hatch Early Learning!
Tactile Bars offer a touch sense opportunity to physically experience and learn textures and concentration
The 5 Senses Book Collection will help explain how each of The 5 Senses work to children!
Sensory explorations are fun for young children! We hope that you and your children will enjoy discovering The 5 Senses this spring!