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Great Sites for Teaching AboutThe Five Senses

Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. This week's sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about our five senses.

  1. Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling the World
    The Howard Hughes Medical Institute provides this comprehensive treatment of the senses, suitable for high school students and above. Scientific information about how the senses carry messages to the brain and how the brain interprets and relays those messages is clear and very readable. Separate sections include discussions of current research on such topics as deafness and colorblindness, as well as explanations of how humans process -- and use -- data received through the senses.

  2. Human Vision
    This lighthearted look at vision includes lessons on such topics as how eyes capture and transmit images, how vision disorders are diagnosed and treated, and how learning disabilities relate to vision -- all cleverly disguised by humorous text and fun illustrations. The site also includes information about stereovision, vision care, virtual reality, and optical illusions. Students in elementary school and above will enjoy the Magic Eye and 3D sections.

  3. Come to Your Senses
    Students in upper elementary grades and middle school will enjoy -- and learn from -- this ThinkQuest Junior site, which utilizes a Mr. Potato Head image map to help them explore the five senses. Each section of the largely text-based site provides a brief overview of a sensory organ, a clearly written and illustrated description of how that organ works, and lists of Sense-Sational Facts and Sense-Sational Links related to each sense. A glossary, interactive quiz, and activity round out each section of the site.

  4. BrainPOP
    BrainPOP, a science site for kids from elementary through high school, provides a variety of resources, including experiments, activities, and animated movies on health, science, and technology topics. To explore one of the five senses, choose Hearing, Skin, Smell, Taste, or Vision from the pull-down menu at the top right corner of the main page. Then watch an animated movie on how that sense works, perform an experiment or participate in a sense-related activity, read a comic about that sense, explore a time line, and take a pop quiz. This is a fun, highly interactive site with lots of great information and hands-on activities.

  5. Five Senses
    The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory developed this unit on the senses for students in the lower elementary grades. Available in both English and Spanish, the unit includes an overview, an objectives grid, background information, and lessons on each of the five senses. Each individual lesson begins with a "big idea" and suggestions for group activities and then is broken down into five sections: Encountering the Idea, Exploring the Idea, Getting the Idea, Applying the Idea, and Closure and Assessment. Each section provides suggestions for activities and discussion topics related to that sense.

  6. Minutes from ME
    Margaret Ennis (ME), from the Franklin Institute Online, offers a page of Web-based science lessons designed to help students learn to use computers and make sense of their online experiences. Scroll to ME's lessons on Seeing, Hearing, Tasting, Smelling, and Touching to find original and engaging information and hands-on activities about each of the senses. Each lesson also includes animations of how that sense organ functions.

  7. A Sensory Summer
    These well-designed lessons on the senses were developed specifically for home-schooled students; however, the activities and resources are equally appropriate for students in traditional preschools and kindergartens. In addition to suggestions for lots of hands-on sensory experiences, the site provides links to vocabulary and reference lists as well as additional Internet sites.

  8. Sensory Systems
    This section of the Neuroscience for Kids site addresses how the brain and nervous system function together to transmit messages from the five senses. Created by Eric Chudler, a professor in the anesthesiology department at University of Washington, in Seattle, the site provides clear text and a number of exceptionally well-done illustrations and diagrams. Together, they provide an impressive understanding of how the senses work.

  9. Five Senses
    This site, created by the Utah State Office of Education, includes a brief overview of the Five Senses for students in upper elementary and middle school. Detailed lesson plans for a dozen related activities follow. Students explore the senses, using color wheels, household utensils, foods, and other readily available items.

Walter McKenzie
Education World®
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