There are tons of fun ways to teach kids about their five senses. Many of these activities often focus on fun so it may be easy for us to see them as only that. While there are both fun and effective ways to teach students about their five senses, it can be much more than just fun. Despite some skepticism, this science content of sensory play remains an important topic to introduce to our younger students. If you're not so convinced, I've compiled a short list of three reasons as to why these lesson plans matter!
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 because they can help better develop fine motor skills and so much more. Until you teach kids about their senses, they may not be fully aware of how they can fully take in the world around them. Students obviously know that they see, hear, and smell many different things throughout each day. They likely have not made the connection between those sensations and the parts of their body that help 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 includes a sense of hearting, sense of sight activities and sense of taste activities, and so on. These different materials enable students to make connections. 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 young children make connections between themselves and the world around them through everyday experiences. This can then promote deeper thinking and critical thought at a young age.
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 toward 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 a child's life of practicing science topics, students will continue to use sight, touch, smell, sounds, and even taste to formulate scientific questions and help them find answers to those questions. You can even incorporate your own easy science experiments to get them jump started in the field of science!
3. Leads to Other Great Discussions
Another reason we should teach kids about their five senses is because it will lead to other great discussions within our classrooms. For example, when talking about senses, it's impossible to avoid talking about ‘opposite' words (or as adults like to call them: antonyms). 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, new 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 because it simply enhances their knowledge of the world and beyond. 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 and there are a variety of ways to go about it. As mentioned, it really does help students make sense of the world around them, and can be used to start important discussions in other content areas too.
What are some of the best ways you've found to teach the five senses? I'd love to learn about your fun ideas too. Having a new, fun way to shake things up in the classroom is always exciting. Let's instill the love of exploring and learning at a young age, together, while we can!