There are tons of fun ways to teach kids about their senses, but because the activities often focus on fun, it may be easy for us to see them as only that. However, teaching students about their five senses is so much more! This science content remains an important topic to introduce to our students. These are three reasons why you should teach your students about their senses.
Reason #1: Helps Students’ Understanding of the World
While the five senses may not seem complex or significant to us as adults, they are incredibly important for young learners. Until you teach kids about their senses, they may not be fully aware of how they take in the world around them. Students obviously know that they can see, hear, and smell many different things throughout each day, but they probably have not made the connection between those sensations and the parts of their body that help them achieve them.
In my Five Senses Unit, I include activities and worksheets that help students understand how specific parts of our body take in each sense. This enables students to make the connection. It also gets students thinking about how we perceive different smells, tastes, and sounds as good or bad, salty or sweet, and even loud or soft. Overall, learning about their senses helps kids make connections between themselves and the world around them.
Reason #2: Sets the Stage for Future Scientific Discovery
As mentioned before, when you teach kids about their five senses, they also learn about how we as humans take in information from our environment. Understanding this is a huge step towards future scientific discovery. As we all know, observation is a key part of the scientific process. And how do we observe? With our five senses, of course! Throughout their years of practicing science, students will continue to use sight, touch, smell, sounds, and even taste to formulate scientific questions and help them find answers to those questions.
Reason #3: Leads to Other Great Discussions
Another reason we should teach kids about their senses is because it will lead to other great discussions within our classrooms. For example, when talking about senses, it is impossible to avoid talking about opposite words. When learning about taste, students can explore the differences between sweet and sour. If discussing hearing, loud and quiet sounds are sure to be brought up. Students can also notice opposites with their touch like hard or soft, bumpy or smooth, wet or dry, and hot or cold. This type of exploration can be a great way to expand your students' vocabulary and understanding of these different words.
Making comparisons through five senses lessons also sets the stage for future math lessons. When learning about measurement, we expect students to make a lot of comparisons. We compare length, height, and weight based on measurement in a similar way to how we make comparisons when learning about the five senses. Furthermore, in both math and literacy, we expect students to sort and categorize different objects or concepts. Students take in information with their senses (or their background knowledge using those senses) and then sort objects into categories based on attributes they observe. Because the five senses set the stage for so many other content areas, it remains an important topic to cover with young learners.
When looking at five senses activities, it is easy to look past the importance and only see the fun. However, learning about the five senses remains a crucial topic to teach to young students. It helps students make sense of the world around them and can be used to start important discussions in other content areas. It even helps students have a better understanding of observation, which will be the cornerstone of future scientific discovery.