I love teaching about the Five Senses!
Afterall, we use our Five Senses to gather information and learn about the world. They're the basis for all learning that we do! There are a TON of really cute Five Senses activities out there...and trust me, I do them all. The smell jars, the sound eggs, the touchy-feely boxes...I mean, come one, who doesn't want to watch a five year-old stick a lemon wedge in their mouth? (It's funny.)
But I want to find a way to take my Five Senses unit a little deeper. Most of my kids already come to kindergarten with a pretty solid understanding of the Five Senses. So I'm always looking for activities that are a little more rigorous, inquiry-based and connected to the real world.
I start with a problem:
And yes...in my life, this could be a real problem!
I let the kids figure out how to solve this problem. Notice that I activate their schema by asking what they already know that could help us solve this problem. They know that although salt and sugar look the same, they taste very different! Now, these kids are really smart. So they all suggest just tasting them--end of problem. (DUH!)
But I ask them if they think any of our other senses could help us out. I "guide" them into coming up with a plan. We test the "stuff" in each jar using one sense at a time--purposely saving taste for last.
Sight is easy--they're both white. But get out a hand lens and the kids might see the crystals, which is always fun.
Sound? Neither one makes a sound. Unless you shake them. Then they both sound like a rattlesnake (who knew?)
Smell--I can tell the difference, but kids usually cannot. Although this year, my kids actually said the sugar smelled like cookies. Lucky Guess? Who knows...
Touch--The sugar will leave your fingers sticky. If kids make connections between sugar and candy or sweet drinks, they'll get it.
And then, of course, taste...the big give away!
Questions for discussion:
- Which senses helped the most? Why?
- Which senses helped the least? Why?
- Which sense(s) would you use to figure out the softest pillow to buy? What TV show is on? What TV show is on in the other room? What your mom is making for dinner? ETC.
So hopefully, after this lesson, the kids will see their Five Senses as another scientific tool we have for exploration, investigation and problem-solving!
Safety Note: It is important to remind kids to never taste things in scientific explorations without specific permission from the teacher. Many things are not safe to eat.