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Lesson: Your Five Senses

Subjects

Health
--- Our Bodies
Science

Grades

  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

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Brief Description

Students discover the use of all their five senses and learn about the nervous system. I have used this activity in a fourth-grade classroom and in a camp setting for college students. I have found this to be fun, challenging, and educational for all age levels.

Objectives

Students learn how each of their five senses help them identify the world around them.

Keywords

senses, nervous system, taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing

Materials Needed

  • ten (10) samples of edible substances -- for example: honey, vinegar, salt, peanut butter, Dr. Pepper, applesauce, water, mustard, cookie crumbs, oil, sugar
  • one opaque plastic cup for each substance
  • labels
  • black permanent marker
  • cardboard box
  • plastic gloves
  • plastic spoons
  • blindfold

The Lesson

Before the Lesson

  • Label the cups from 1 to 10.
  • Place a sample of a different edible substance in each cup.
  • Make a list of the cups and what is inside of them (for example, Cup 1 peanut butter, Cup 2 water). Do not share this list with students.

    The Activity
    Arrange students into teams. Appoint a team captain for each team. Have the team captain label a paper from 1 to 10. Explain to students that they must use their senses to discover what is inside the cups. Explain that they will receive one point for each correct answer. The team with the most points wins.

    Place one of the ten containers/substances in the cardboard box. Call up one student from each team. Give that student the option of tasting, smelling, seeing, or feeling the substance.

    Notes

  • If a student chooses to see the substance, make sure s/he holds her/his nose so s/he can't smell it.
  • If a student chooses to taste the substance, make sure s/he is blindfolded and holding her/his nose.
  • If a student chooses to feel the substance, make sure s/he is blindfolded and holding her/his nose. Also, if feeling the substance, the student should put on a plastic glove. When they are done, remove their hand from the glove and leaving the glove inside the cup/cardboard box. That will avoid a mess and prevent students from seeing the substance.
  • The students who sensed the substance then return to their teams to discuss what they felt, saw, smelled, or tasted.

    The team captain records what the team assumes the substance to be. (For example: the student might report feeling a gooey substance. As a result, the team might discuss possibilities including jelly, honey, Jell-O and record what they think it might have been.) If the students are not sure and cannot guess what the substance is, you might give the team the option of using the same substance for the next round. Obviously, they will choose a different student and a different sense the second time around. By using a combination of the two senses, they might be able to narrow down the possibilities and discover what is in the cup. Of course, if a team chooses to do this, they forfeit their chance of moving to the next substance while the other team(s) may choose to move on.

    Continue calling up one student from each team and giving him/her a chance to see, smell, taste, or feel the substance in the next cup. Once again, the sense-er will share her/his observations with the other members of their team and record the teams guess.

    When students have had ten opportunities to sense what is in a cup, the team captains can share their guesses for each cup. The team that got the most correct guesses wins.

    Assessment

    Discuss with students how dependent they are on each of their senses. Ask them to share instances where seeing (or smelling, or tasting) was not enough to discover what some substances were.

    Talk about the substances for which feeling, smelling, or seeing was not enough. For example, without the sense of taste, Dr. Pepper could have been mistaken for Coke; without the sense of smell, vinegar could be mistaken as water

    Have students share in writing some different ways in which hearing, seeing, smelling, and touch can help keep them out of danger. Make sure they give clear examples for each. For example: you might see mold on old foods, which helps you steer clear of eating things that might make you sick; or smelling burning wood or rubber might help warn you of fire

    Discuss the repercussions and dangers of living without one of the five senses.

    Submitted By

    Miriam Lev, The Jewish Institute of Queens in Elmhurst, New York

    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World

    03/22/2007

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