Preschool and kindergarten is the time to learn about the five senses so students will be ready for more advanced anatomy lessons later on. These five senses activities help kids connect sight, sound, smell, hearing, and touch with the associated body parts. They’re also a whole lot of fun!
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1. Head out for a five senses scavenger hunt
A nature walk is one of the best ways to engage all five senses and introduce the concept to kids. Try it in different seasons for a new adventure each time!
Learn more: Childhood 101
2. Read a book about the five senses
Story time is a terrific way to introduce wee ones to the five senses. Here are some of our favorite books to use:
- Cold, Crunchy, Colorful: Using Our Senses
- You Can’t Smell a Flower With Your Ear!
- I Hear a Pickle
- The Magic School Bus Explores the Senses
- Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell
- My Five Senses
3. Hang a five senses anchor chart
Post an anchor chart and fill it in as you discuss each of the senses and the body parts related to them. (Tip: Laminate your anchor charts so you can reuse them from year to year.)
Learn more: Kindergarten Smiles
4. Break out Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head toys are perfect for teaching little ones about the five senses. Learn how to make a Potato Head poster from Fun With Firsties, then grab the free printable spinner from A Little Pinch of Perfect and use it to play a fun senses game.
5. Make a set of finger puppets
Get your free body-parts printable at the link below, then have kids color them, cut them out, and glue them to wood craft sticks. Use them for all sorts of five senses activities!
Learn more: Simple Everyday Mom
6. Sort objects according to senses
Sorting games are always fun for kids. Use a muffin tin to sort smaller items, or try Hula-Hoops for sorting larger items instead.
Learn more: The Preschool Toolbox
7. Set up Five Senses Stations
Allow kids to explore each of the senses on their own with these stations. Visit the link for plenty of great ideas for what to include at each one.
Learn more: We Have Kids
8. Use all your senses to explore popcorn
Popcorn is a terrific food for senses activities, especially if you can use an air popper to make it fresh while kids watch. Plus, you get a yummy, healthy snack when you’re done!
Learn more: Popcorn 5 Senses Activity at Play to Learn Preschool
9. Or try Pop Rocks instead
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, tear open a few bags of Pop Rocks candy and use your senses to experience them to the fullest. Kids will go wild for this one!
Learn more: Little Bins for Little Hands
10. Solve the case of salt vs. sugar
Guide kids as they try to determine which jar has salt and which has sugar. The catch? The sense of taste is the last one they get to use!
Learn more: Kindergarten Kindergarten
11. Put on a pair of Lookers
In the clever story The Looking Book (Hallinan/Barton), two boys discover the world around them after their mom gives them each a pair of “lookers”—which are really just toy glasses. Pass out pairs to your students and send them out to use their sense of sight.
Learn more: Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station
12. Explore up close with a magnifying glass
Take the sense of sight even deeper with a magnifying glass. Show kids the tiny details their eyes can see with that bit of extra help.
Learn more: Magnifying Glass Activities at Stay at Home Educator
13. Take a listening walk
Inspire kids with a reading of The Listening Walk (Showers/Aliki), then head outside to take one of your own! Make a list of the sounds you hear, or give kids a checklist (get a free printable one at the link below) of sounds to listen for.
Learn more: Teach Preschool
14. Learn how sounds help you make decisions
This is a cool activity to help kids understand that while our five senses collect information, it’s our brain that helps us interpret information and make decisions. You can use this idea with hearing or any other sense.
Learn more: Completely Kindergarten
15. Play a sound-matching game
Fill plastic eggs or medicine bottles with a variety of small items. Ask kids to shake them and see if they can figure out what’s inside based on sound alone. It’s harder than they think!
Learn more: Sound Eggs at Play to Learn Preschool
16. Decide which flower smells the best
Let kids use their sense of smell to decide which flowers smell the best. You can try this with all sorts of items, and remind kids that sometimes there’s no one right answer!
Learn more: No Time for Flash Cards
17. Write scratch-and-sniff names
Write the letters with glue, then sprinkle them with Jell-O powder. When it dries, kids can feel the texture and sniff the scent!
Learn more: Fun-a-Day
18. Sniff a collection of scent bottles
Add a few drops of essential oils to cotton balls and drop them into spice jars. Ask kids to sniff them without looking, and see if they can identify the smells.
Learn more: Things To Share and Remember
19. Go on a scent hunt
This activity also uses essential oils, but this time you hide the scented cotton pads around the room and see if kids can sniff their way to the right locations!
Learn more: Scent Hunt at PreKinders
20. Test your sense of taste with jellybeans
Looking for five senses activities for students with a sweet tooth? Jelly Belly jellybeans are known for their true-to-life flavors, which makes them perfect for a blind taste test. Want to make it even more interesting? Add some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans into the mix!
Learn more: Jelly Beans Activity at Stay at Home Educator
21. Do an apple taste test
Our sense of taste is more subtle than kids might realize. It’s easy for them to recognize the taste of an apple, but they’ll be surprised to discover they can actually tell different kinds of apples apart too.
Learn more: Apple Taste Test at Play to Learn Preschool
22. Stroll down a sensory walk
Fill up a series of plastic tubs with different items like beads, sand, shaving cream, and more. Then let kids take a walk through them, experiencing all the different sensations.
Learn more: Teaching Mama
23. Build a texture board
This is such an easy DIY! Just pick up an inexpensive cutting board, then attach fabrics and papers with different textures. Little fingers will love to explore them.
Learn more: Pre-K Pages
24. Describe how different things feel
The sense of touch gives us some of the best descriptive words. Ask kids to feel a variety of items and list the adjectives they’d use to describe them.
Learn more: Some of This & Some of That
25. Make mystery touch boxes
Turn empty tissue containers into mystery boxes! Drop an assortment of items into them, and ask kids to reach in and identify what they are using only their sense of touch.
Learn more: Touch Boxes at Prekinders
Love these five senses activities? Check out Inspiring Science Books for Kids in Elementary School.
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