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Exploring our 5 senses in a kindergarten classroom
A new take on exploring our 5 senses
28 Dec, 2017. 2 Comments. A Day In First Grade, Autumn, Back to School, First Grade, First Grade Science, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Science, Preschool, Preschool Science, Reggio Inspired, Science, STEM. Posted By: Kristen Smith

Exploring our senses in kindergarten

If you look at any of the kindergarten standards, again and again it comes up that students will use their five senses to show what they are learning. Students are expected to make observations, use scientific inquiry, recognize properties of objects, take notes, draw pictures, use adequate vocabulary, and create representations of objects (just to name a few of the ways kindergarteners are expected) to evaluate and display what they are learning. However, these skills and expectations take practice. In order to help my students develop these scientific skills, I set up a variety of science experiments and activities for them that would authentically help them practice using these skills. Through the activities, we practiced making observations, using scientific dialogue, and developed our investigative language that we would use throughout the year.

Exploring our sense of smell

This year, I wanted to change up the activities that I used for exploring our 5 senses. One afternoon while I was walking around Whole Foods, I noticed their bath bombs and thought of them in a new way. (I love these!!) I thought, “Man! These would be awesome for my kindergarteners to explore!” Not only would they allow my students to talk about how they smelled, but it also would help us talk about cause and effect, reactions, and observations.

I set up this provocation 5 times around my room. (I wanted everyone to complete the activity at the same time in small groups.)

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

Before I let my students explore, I read them a book about what scientists do and we discussed the kind of observations that scientists make while completing an experiment. I then had them circle one of the provocations and we discussed what we thought was going to happen. Many of my students had used bath bombs before so they were SUPER excited about the experiment. They couldn’t wait to discover what smell they had.

After the brief mini lesson, my students went to their science stations and began their experiment. They carefully dropped their bath bombs into the water and then the magic happened.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

As soon as the bath bombs hit the water my young scientists began making observations.

“Can you hear the sizzle? The bath bomb is making noise!”

“I think ours is peppermint!! It smells like mint!!”

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

“Look! Ours is purple, I bet that we have lavender!”

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

My students loved watching the bath bombs dissolve in the water and then had a blast playing in the water. As they played, they continued to observe, discuss, and talk about what they were seeing, smelling, and feeling in the water.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

Exploring Our Sense Of Touch

To explore our sense of touch, I decided that clay would be a perfect medium to explore. Since we use clay so much in our classroom to show what we are learning, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to talk about the attributes of clay. I took out a large block of clay and had my students describe what it looked and felt like. They said it was large, cold, thick, hard, unbreakable, smooth, and beige. I then asked them what they think would happen if we added water to it.

They weren’t sure what would happen but they were super excited to find out! In small groups, I gave each student a small chunk of clay and we gathered around a sensory tub filled 1/4 of the way with water. I then invited my students to explore what would happen to their clay if they added water to it.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

My students began slowly dipping their chunks of clay into the tub and quickly realized that the texture changed.

They were amazed that the block of clay became easier to mold and manipulate when they added water to it.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

As they continued to dunk their clay in the water, they noticed that the more they dunked, the more the clay “disappeared.” It also got “slimy and slippery.” (These were great observations because when students want to sculpt with clay, they need to know when to stop adding water to their creations!)

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

My students LOVED this (very messy!!) activity and learned a lot about texture while completing it!

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

Using our sense of sight to make observations about mixing primary colors

To encourage my students to make predictions and observations using their sense of sight, I set up a color mixing station at our sensory table. To do this, I filled the large tub with water and added two smaller tubs each filled with water dyed with a different primary color.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

My students could not wait to explore here!!

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

Before they were allowed to play, they made predictions as to what they thought was going to happen. {For many of my students, this truly was a discovery station– they did not know what color they would make!} As they began playing, squeals of excitement filled the air! “Look, look!! We are making purple!!! Red and blue make PURPLE!!!”

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

The next week, I changed the colors to yellow and blue.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

My students were just as engaged and surprised to discover what new secondary color they created!

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

By taking the time to help develop my students’ observation skills through play, every day activities and play-based materials, lead to the use of practicing scientific observations, discoveries, language, and reflections.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

My students choose to practice the kindergarten standards and expectations of documentation, drawing, writing, and observing because being a scientist has become part of our class culture. I love that they want to sit down, take out our art supplies and “show others what they are learning” without me even having to suggest it.

Hands-on activities to help kindergarteners explore their 5 senses

Mr. Rogers once said, “Play gives children the chance to practice what they are learning.” While some may baulk at these “play-based” activities, they truly pave the way for what is to come and allow our youngest learners to truly develop a LOVE for learning.

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2 Comments
  1. Where did you find that amazing sensory table? Was it custom made?

    • This is from Community Playthings. It is such a hit in my classroom!

2 Comments

  • Where did you find that amazing sensory table? Was it custom made?

    • This is from Community Playthings. It is such a hit in my classroom!

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