Investigation Sequence


Five Senses

Written by:

Radiance Klein & Rico Bohren                 Date


Focus Questions

What are the five senses? How do we use them?


Content: Earth, Physical, & Life


Cross cutting concepts


Science Practice

Observation - Humans use their senses to gather information about the world around them.

Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History


Background information

You skin allows you to sense by touch. Humans need light in order to see. You use both your tongue and your nose to taste. All sounds are made by something vibrating. People have noses, which are body structures, which enable them to sense smell.additionalinfo

Activity Sequence

1. Mystery Touch Bag
2. Clay Shaping
3. Hands Lens
4. Color Classification
5. Food Collage
6. Smells, Smells, Smells
7. Paper Cup Telephones
8. Musical Instruments
9. My Favorite Things
10. The Five Senses

Activity Descriptions

Activity One
Mystery Touch Bag
Paper bags, pencils, and a collection of familiar objects
1. Put a collection of objects on a table. (They should be objects that can be described as soft, hard, rough, smooth, wet, or cool.)
2. Ask children to feel each one and describe what it feels like.
3. Divide the class into small groups and give each group a paper "touch bag."
4. Ask one child in each group to choose a classroom object and put it in the bag while the others close their eyes. Children can take turns closing their eyes and reaching into the bag.
5. Encourage children to use words to describe what they feel and to try to guess what the object is. Children can continue the exploration until everyone has had a turn.
6. Ask children how they were able to identify objects in the "touch bag." (Encourage children to use descriptive words such as smooth, rough, hard, and soft to describe the objects.)
7. Ask children to name some things they should never touch. Ask them to tell why.

Activity Two
Clay Shaping
Clay, index cards, crayons or markers
1. Have children work in pairs to make circles, S’s, and triangles, using rolled clay.
2. Have them place the shapes on index cards.
3. Have one child close his or her eyes while the partner rearranges the cards.
4. Ask the child with closed eyes to touch each shape and say what it is.
5. Have children switch roles.
6. Remind them not to open their eyes until they have made a guess.
7. Ask students if it is easier to tell the shape of an object with their eyes open or closed.
8. Ask how they were able to tell the shape of the rolled clay with their eyes closed.
9. Ask children how they could find their way around the classroom if they couldn’t see. How would they know where the window was? How could they find the door? What other senses and body parts could they use?

Activity Three
Hand Lens
Hand lens, classroom objects, crayons or markers
1. Ask children what part of their bodies they use to read books.
2. Ask children what things they can tell about objects by looking at them.
3. Have pairs of children look at each other’s eyes and describe what they see. Encourage them to talk about eyelashes, eyelids, the color of the eyeballs, the whites of the eyes, and so on.
4. Distribute hand lenses.
5. Invite pairs of children to choose things in the classroom to explore, either using the hand lenses or just their eyes.
6. Encourage children to examine their clothes, hands, hair, and other things that interest them. Help children compare what they can see with the hand lenses and what they can see when they’re using only their eyes.
7. Ask what objects look bigger or smaller, and whether they can see more details when they look through the hand lens. How does the lens change what they can see?
8. Discuss what children learned by looking at objects. Was there anything they noticed by looking more carefully?
9. How can your eyes help you?
10. Ask children what they know about eyeglasses. How do they think eyeglasses might help people see?

Activity Four
Color Classification
Classroom objects of different colors, crayons, colored construction paper
1. Divide the class into groups and assign each group a color.
2. Place pieces of different colored construction paper on sections of the floor or tables.
3. Let each group gather together objects of its assigned color and put them in the matching color area. (You may want to give children small pieces of paper of each color for them to carry as they collect objects.)
4. Choose some objects from different groups’ color piles that are exactly the same except for color.
5. Have several children close their eyes and hold one of the objects.
6. Can they tell what color it is with their eyes closed? What parts of their body do they use to see color?
7. Have the students each pick three crayons. On a sheet of paper, have them draw one object that is the color of their crayons. (Each student will have drawn three objects in the end.)

Activity Five
Food Collage
Magazines with food pictures, scissors, paper, glue, crayons
1. Ask children what body parts they use to taste.
2. Invite children to name a food that they like the taste of.
3. Help children form small groups.
4. Have each group of children make a food collage by gluing pictures of different kinds of foods onto a large sheet of paper.
5. Have each group display its collage.
6. Discuss the different tastes of the foods pictured. (Encourage the use of terms such as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.)
7. Ask children which tastes they like best and which they like least.
8. Ask children to make up a lunch menu that consists of something sweet, something sour, something salty and something bitter.

Activity Six
Smells, Smells, Smells
Classroom objects, crayons, paper, glue
1. Have pairs of children collect objects from around the room, including ones with subtle smell or no smell at all (pencils, erasers, crayons, paint, plastic, toys).
2. Have them take turns closing their eyes and smelling something their partner has chosen.
3. Make sure to keep reminding them to keep their eyes closed until they have made a guess. Then they can open their eyes to see the object.
4. Discuss the different types of smells children found.
5. How easy was it to identify objects by smell? What objects had the strongest smell? What things had no smell at all? Which things had pleasant smell? Unpleasant smells?
6. Ask how smelling can help children determine if there is danger. What kinds of smells might be signs of danger?

Activity Seven
Paper Cup Telephones
Paper cups, string, pencils, tape
1. What parts of your body do you use to hear?
2. What types of things would you hear at a parade?
3. Ask children to place both hands over their ears while you are talking.
4. Then ask them to place a hand over one ear.
5. Have them discuss what happens to the sound.
6. Ask students if they think paper cup telephones will work.
7. Will their partners sound far away or close by?
8. Will their voices sound loud or soft?
9. Distribute paper cups, string, tape, and pencils.
10. Tell children to poke their pencil through the bottom of both cups to make one hole in each cup. Demonstrate in front of the class.
11. Place one end of the string through one hole and tape it to the inside of the cup. Do just the same with the loose end of the string.
12. Then let them talk to each other using their telephones.
13. Then they can try the telephone when the string is loose and again when it is tight and find out how it works best.
14. Ask children how their partners sounded over the telephones. Did the telephones work better when the string was loose or when it was tight?
15. Ask children to close their eyes and imagine an elephant’s ear. Ask them to pretend that they have an ear like that. What would they hear?

Activity Eight
Musical Instruments
Paper plates, tape, gravel, pencils
1. Ask children to sit very quietly and close their eyes.
2. Drop various classroom objects onto the floor and have the children guess what each object is.
3. Distribute paper plates, gravel, and tape.
4. Explain to children that they can make musical instruments by following these steps. 1. Fold the plate in half 2. Place pebbles inside 3. Tape the plate shut
5. Ask children how they can make sounds with their instruments.
6. Encourage them to shake the plates, tap them with their hands or pencils, and tap them against something.
7. Ask children to predict how the sounds of their instruments will change when they are played in different ways.
8. Have children play their instruments together in a rhythmic way.
9. Have the children cup one hand under the instrument while they shake it with the other hand. What do they feel?
10. Ask children to place their fingers very gently on their throats and to hum.
11. Have them tell you what happens.
12. Ask if they can feel their throats vibrate.

Activity Nine
My Favorite Things
Crayons, art paper
1. Have small groups of children take turns searching the classroom for favorite things, and putting their treasures on the table.
2. Have children describe their chosen objects, and talk about which sense(s) they used to choose an item.
3. Encourage them to think about more than one sense.
4. Talk about the children’s choices.
5. Help the children to understand that they use their senses to choose their favorite things. They use information from their senses often to choose foods, clothes, and toys.
6. Ask children when they use hearing to make a choice.
7. What things do they choose by feel or texture?

Activity Ten
The Five Senses
Crayons, cards (6x8 oak tag or art paper)
1. Divide children into five groups.
2. Distribute a blank card to each group and have them make a picture cards for one of the five senses. (eyes, nose, mouth, hand, and ear)
3. Have children sit in a large circle, and distribute sense cards in a random way.
4. As you name things that can be sensed from a parade or other event, children holding sense cards appropriate to that subject should raise their cards. (For example, if you say ‘Popcorn Stand’ children should raise every sense card. Children are able to see the popcorn (eyes), smell the popcorn (nose), taste the popcorn (mouth), touch the popcorn (hands), and hear the popcorn popping (ears).
5. Whichever children have a card raised, ask for a short explanation of why or how they would use that sense at that particular place. Children can draw air images of what they see if possible.
6. Then have children choose a place without telling what it is. Have them tell something they heard, saw, smelled, touched, or tasted, and see of others can guess the place.
7. Help children to understand that they get information through all their senses.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes