Our senses could also be defined as our windows for experiencing the world around us. We’ve packed this week with experiential activities that encourage your child to tune into their senses (while also learning about math, plenty of science, literacy, and more!). Get ready to see (and smell, touch, hear, and taste!) the world like never before! Click here to download our tracking document to record the skills you work on this week.
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- Look, Listen, Taste, Touch and Smell, Learn About Your Senses by Pamela Hill Nettleton (or use this read aloud)
- The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca
- Hands & Hearts by Donna Jo Napoli
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- 2-3 lemons
- baking soda
- food coloring
- dish soap
- craft stick (or you can use the handle of a spoon)
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- a mirror
- a frosted container
- battery operated light (and batteries—you need 3 AAA and 2 AA)
- tissue paper (if you already own MagnaTiles, those work as well!)
- cardboard tube (and empty Pringles can would be perfect)
- hammer and nail
- clear glue
- glitter and/or sequins
- circle stickers
- small circle stickers (optional, or you could also use a hole punch on larger circle stickers)
- 5 glass cups or jars
- 2 paper cups (you can probably find these cheaper at a grocery or dollar store)
- 20 feet of string (or yarn)
- 2 paper clips
- Pop Rocks
- cooking oil
- corn syrup
- clear CD jewel case
- 3/8″ Chicago screws (the original activity uses plastic like these, but we also found these brass ones on Prime)
- glue gun
- rainbow rubber bands
- permanent marker
- shaving cream
- corn starch
- caster sugar
- cream of tartar
- parchment paper
- butter (or spray oil)
- candy thermometer
- 3-4 decaf tea flavors
- meltable chocolate
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Get ready to experience your world with all of your senses! Let’s read Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell: Learn About Your Senses to start. Next, listen to this song that helps to explain each of the senses.
Activity 1: Today, we’ll start our lessons by learning about the sense of smell. How does the sense of smell work? Let’s watch this video to find out.
Activity 2: Ready for some smelly science? Let’s do this lemon volcanoes experiment.
Activity 3: If you purchased The Children’s Introduction to Art, turn to pages 82 and 83 to learn about Pablo Picasso. If not, you can also learn about him here. Your child may not have the attention span to read that whole page—and that’s okay! Here are some main points you can share:
- Picasso was born in Malaga in Spain in 1881, but in 1904 when he was 23 he moved to Paris, which was the center of art at the time.
- Picasso created so many different kinds of art that historians have divided his life and the art he made into stages. The Blue Period and the Rose Period came first (when he used lots of blue and pink to make paintings). These were followed by primitivism, cubism, classicism (when he created more traditional or classic artworks), surrealism, wartime, and Late Works.
- Picasso is famous for inventing cubism along with a few other famous artists of his time. Cubism is the painting of an object from many different angles all in the same picture. The result was often faces that looked quite out of order. Let’s look at one his cubism portraits here, called “Weeping Woman 1937.” Talk about the shapes and the angles your child sees in these paintings. Can the spot the hidden bird drinking the woman’s tears?
Next, let’s play this pin the nose on the Picasso game!
Ready to see sight a little more clearly? Today, we’ll learn about the sense of sight with some brightly colored activities and experiments. But first, how do we see at all? This video explains how your eye sees, and you can also review the pages of Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell about sight. Next, let’s learn about a woman who overcame a lot to become a doctor who made major discoveries about sight in The Doctor With an Eye for Eyes.
Activity 1: Sight prediction experiment. This simple activity will teach your child how their eyes respond to light while also introducing the idea of a scientific prediction, or hypothesis. Download and print the sheet, and then follow the instructions.
Activity 2: DIY light table. After making your “light table,” use it to practice a variety of skills, from mixing colors (using colorful transparent plastic toys, like MagnaTiles, or pieces of tissue paper) to geometry (but cutting tissue paper into shapes and letting them build their own pictures).
Activity 4: Sticker number chart art. Practice recognizing patterns, or find simple sums and differences (AKA, addition and subtraction). The download to the number chart isn’t working, so you can use ours instead.
Let’s talk about hearing! Our hearing enables us to enjoy everything from music on the radio to a funny joke told by a friend. Let’s start by reviewing the pages in Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell about hearing, then watch this video about how we hear.
Activity 1: Your sense of hearing is amazing thing—it can help you identify specific tones and put them in order! Let’s test our hearing by making a water xylophone. Present your child with 5 glass cups or vases and a pitcher of water. Have them pour a different amount of water in each glass. Next, have them tap each glass with a metal spoon to hear the tone it makes. Each glass will make a different note! Try adding more water to one glass—how does the sound change? Finally, put the glasses in order from lowest tone to highest tone to create your xylophone and rock out for a while!
Activity 2: Not being able to hear is called deafness (or, in some cases, being hard of hearing). But not being able to hear doesn’t hold deaf people back from doing the same things you do! Let’s learn more about sign language, a special way of talking with your hands used by many people who are deaf or hard of hearing, in the book Hands & Hearts.
Next, let’s learn a few more signs! Watch this video to learn some sign language greetings.
Activity 2: Paper cup phone. This classic STEM project is an awesome hands-on way to demonstrate how sound waves travel!
Activity 3: Let’s learn about viscosity (or the state of being thick, sticky, and semifluid in consistency) and how it affects sound with this fun science experiment.
Let’s get in touch with our sense of touch! Start by reviewing the touch pages in your senses book, and/or you can review this website about how touch works.
Activity 1: While we experience the sense of touch over almost all of our body, our sense of touch is the most sensitive in our fingertips. The top layer of our skin is called epidermis, and it contains millions of touch receptor cells that take in information from our environment and send these messages to the brain to process. Our sense of touch gives us information about temperature, texture, pressure, and more! Let’s explore this heightened sensitivity with a thermic glasses experiment.
Start by heating two cups of water to be hot, but not boiling. Get four glasses.
- Fill one glass with 1 cup of cold water.
- Fill one glass with ⅔ cup cold water and ⅓ cup warm water.
- Fill one glass with ⅓ cold water and ⅔ warm water.
- Fill the last glass with 1 cup of warm water.
Put the glasses in front of your child (out of order) and ask them to make observations. (They should notice that some glasses are warmer and colder than others.) Now, have them put the glasses in order from coldest to hottest. How did their sense of touch help them?
Activity 2: Let’s get some geometry practice through touch with this DIY geo board.
Activity 3: Let’s continue our tactile experiences with this foam playdough recipe. Once it’s made, let your child use it to build letters, numbers, or simple to roll, squish, and play to strengthen fine motor skills.
Activity 4: Let’s work on some literacy through touch! First, print our free download here. Present your child with 8-12 different textured materials and let them choose their eight favorites. (You might give them pieces of felt, sandpaper, pom poms, clay, double-sided tape, feathers, etc.) Next, have them glue one texture to each hand on the printout. Then, ask them to pick one word to describe each texture and write it on the line below the hand. (You may want to write the word for them on a different paper so they can copy your word instead of worrying about spelling.
Finally, let’s use the second sheet of the printout to practice some copywork. Turn one of their adjectives into a longer sentence (for example, “My dog’s fur is very soft.”) or you can take a sentence from one of this week’s books. Write it on the top line, and then have your child copy it on the line underneath.
For our final day this week, let’s talk about how we taste our food! Start by reviewing those pages in our senses book, then watch this brief video to find the answer.
Activity 1: Science of edible glass. Your child likely knows the primary forms of matter (solids, liquids, and gases), but this science experiment introduces them to a new form—amorphous solids! Plus, it tastes pretty sweet. 😉
Activity 2: Tea mixing taste test. Humans can taste five basic flavors—bitter, savory (or umami), salty, sour, and sweet—but there are plenty of subtleties within those basic tastes. Let’s put our taste buds to the test with this simple tea tasting activity. (This can also be a great kick-off to Tea + Poetry—try some of these poems about food!)
Activity 3: Exploding chocolate candy. Let’s end the week on an explosively fun note with this food science recipe. After your child tries these treats, you can use this article to explain how Pop Rocks get their signature fizz.
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