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Click on the word to jump to the activities for that sense. 🙂
We have five senses we use to explore and understand the world around us. As you well know, those are touch, sight, hear, smell, and taste. We use each sense with different parts of our body, which helps us to learn about things in new ways.
Your children are obviously already using these senses, but helping them learn about each one will add to their growth and development (and have fun along the way!).
Listed below are some great ideas to explore the five senses!
Five Senses Activities
These can be done with your own kids, a school class, or a group of friends.
You can prepare your kiddos by doing the following activity to introduce senses:
Go on a Sensory Walk
Walk around your house, neighborhood, school, etc and invite your children to pay attention to things they can touch, see, hear, and smell. You may not be tasting anything on this walk, unless you have previously prepared something;)
As you walk along, point things out. Occasionally ask your child what they are sensing. Did you hear that dog bark? Can you feel the grass? Do you see the sun peeking through the clouds?
When you get back home, let your child draw or recreate the things they experienced. Depending on their age and development, they can also label with a word or phrase the things they have drawn.
Touch and Guess Bag
Gather a variety of items such as a cotton ball, comb, toy car, blocks, spoon, a piece of felt or satin, and a key and place them into a bag. (Or whatever you have on hand that can easily be identified by feeling it.)
Invite your child to put their hand into the bag and pick an object. Without looking at it, ask them to describe what it feels like then make a guess on what it is. Pull it out and check! If you are working with a group of children you can have them describe things to each other.
Another option is for you to choose an object to describe. Invite your child to reach their hand into the bag and feel all of the objects until they find the one that matches your description.
Blindfold and Search
Use a scarf/bandana/cloth to cover your child’s eyes. Place some objects near them and ask them to feel for things around them and guess what the object is.
Encourage them to describe the things they are feeling. “This is soft.” “That is hard.” “This feels pointy.” Have them make their guesses then unveil their eyes and find out how they did!
Use a tray that is divided into sections (or several small bowls if that is easier!). Cut out different types of textured materials and place each one in a different section. Some fun materials to use could be felt, satin, sandpaper, bubble wrap and burlap. Let your child explore each one through picking it up, feeling it and comparing it to the other materials.
Finger Paint with Pudding
Whip up some instant pudding and plop some on the table. Have your child draw in it and share how it ‘feels.’ This one could also incorporate the sense of taste. *Fair warning, this could get messy! But messy + learning = loads of smiles and fun!
Take 2 cardboard tubes (empty toilet paper rolls) and let your child paint them however they’d like. You can also offer other decorating materials like stickers to make it fancy. After they have finished decorating, use a hot glue gun to glue the 2 rolls together. You can add a piece of string to one end so it will hang around their neck. Go outside and look through a new set of lenses! Help your child find interesting things to look at like flowers, grass, leaves, toys, etc.
*This was a fun activity I did in my first grade classroom when we were learning about shapes and we’d go on shape hunts using our homemade binoculars.
I Spy Bottle
Fill a mason jar or similar clear container with various small objects such as dice, buttons, shapes, plastic bugs, letters and numbers. Once you have placed the objects in the jar, fill it up with rice, beans or whatever little items you have on hand. Shake it up to mix the items. Let your child turn the bottle this way and that way to “spy” all of the objects you placed in there.
Give your child a magnifying glass and help them see the world from a different angle. Let them explore looking at flowers, rocks, buttons and other random things you have in or around your house. Encourage them to experiment with the distance between them and the object. I’m sure you’ll get some funny responses!
Take a walk around your neighborhood or school and pause occasionally to just listen, closing your eyes may help you to focus on listening and not seeing at the same time!
Ask your child what they hear at each stopping point, share what you have heard as well.
Point things out as they happen. I hear an airplane flying overhead! (I really did just have an airplane fly over, so it prompted me to write that haha).
Name That Sound
Play a variety of sounds on your phone or computer and have your child identify each sound. Join in on the fun and let your child choose some sounds that you identify. There are many different apps that could work for this.
One free one I found is called Sound Effects.! created by PXL APPS. It has various animal sounds, things around the house like a washer and doorbell, modes of transportation, sports, etc. Lots of familiar sounds to hear and recognize! (All while practicing those listening skills;))
Match Sounds with Pictures
This could be an extension of the activity above, Name That Sound. Place pictures of some sounds your child hears and ask them to hold up the picture that matches the sound they hear.^Top
What’s That Smell?
Put a blindfold on your child after preparing a few things for them to smell and identify. This may sound obvious, but don’t let them peek at the items beforehand! Let them lift a few things up and give it a good sniff.
A few potent smells could include onions, cilantro, cinnamon, bananas, lemons and a cotton ball soaked in perfume.
After they’ve made their best guess, remove the blindfold and let them see what they are really working with. It is amazing what a difference our senses can make when we use them together!
Make a batch of play dough, click here for a kool-aid scented recipe. Invite your child to smell each scent individually to see if they can identify the smells. Then give them some tools to use and let them get to playing!
Fun tools you likely have around the house could include cookie cutters, popsicle sticks to ‘cut’ with, jar lids, straws and buttons.
Yogurt and Spice Painting
Dump some yogurt onto a tray or plate, give them the option of some random spices, and let your budding artist begin! They can have a great time drawing in the yogurt and dumping spices that add additional smells and textures.
This could get messy, so plan to have them work at the table or on the floor with a disposable tablecloth for easy cleanup.^Top
Oreos and Worms Dirt Snack
Take a few oreos (or similar cookies) and let your child crush them in a little ziploc bag until they resemble dirt-like crumbs. Set some aside to put on top. Mix them together with chocolate pudding and pour them into a clear cup (so you can see the different parts!). Put the leftover crumbs on top. Push some gummy worms into the ‘dirt’ and enjoy! This will provide all kinds of different flavors to taste. You’ve likely heard of this one, its been around for a long time! Its still a great treat to create and enjoy tasting together.
Put a variety of foods out for your child to taste, make sure they close those eyes! You can write/print out labels that your child can use to identify each type of food as they go. They can also experiment with mixing foods like potato chips and limes.
These are some ideas to include several types of food like salty, sweet, sour and bitter.
salty: pretzels, potato chips, saltine crackers
sweet: marshmallows, chocolate chips, skittles
sour: gummy worms, limes, dill pickles
bitter: unsweetened cocoa powder, olives, broccoli
Guess the Ice Cream Flavor
Umm, yum! I don’t know about your kids, but anytime I did food related activities with my students at school I had their full attention. Just mention the word ice cream and your kiddos will likely come running!
For this activity, get several different flavors of ice cream (depending on how many children you are working with, you could just get the smaller containers to get a taste of each one).
Keep a list of which ice cream goes with each number. Put some of each ice cream into little cups and mark them with a number (that matches the key you have of which ice cream is linked to which number!).
Let your child try each cup of ice cream and match up each flavor correctly. They may be surprised to find out some answers!