Without our senses we wouldn’t be able to do anything – they’re how we interact with and understand the world around us. It’s a good idea to teach kids about the five senses from a young age – these activities and worksheets will help make it fun and interesting.
What are the five senses and why are they important?
Our senses are the way that we receive information from our environment. The five senses of the human body are:
- Sight – we see things with our eyes
- Hearing – our ears pick up on sounds and noises
- Touch – receptors in our skin detect pressure and vibrations
- Taste – the taste buds on our tongue react to different flavors in our mouth
- Smell – special cells in our nose detect all different kinds of odors
Our senses are our link to the world around us. A loss of any sense would have a profound impact on the way we live our lives.
It’s of course possible to live a life with sensory disabilities – like blindness or deafness – but it takes a lot more work.
Think about any everyday task – reading, brushing your teeth, walking outside, driving. Without our senses these would be near impossible. Our senses are often tied to the things we enjoy, like listening to music or eating our favorite food.
How to explain the five senses to kids
Explain the five senses to your kids using real-world examples they can understand.
When the dog is barking, they can hear it thanks to tiny hairs in their ears. When they eat ice cream, their taste buds are responding to the sweet, delicious flavor!
As with any topic, hands-on learning is always best – especially here when they’ll literally be using their senses to learn about their senses!
We’ve got some activity ideas that’ll help your kids understand their senses in a fun way.
Then, you can follow them up with some engaging worksheets that’ll anchor what they’ve experienced in some scientific theory.
9 creative activities to explain the five senses to kids
1. Make a food chart of the different tastes
Not everything tastes the same!
See if your children can name the five basic tastes off the top of their heads: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. Pull foods out of your fridge and pantry and ask kids to categorize them by taste.
2. Do some optical brain teasers
Our eyes are amazingly powerful, but they can sometimes be easily tricked!
Introduce your kids to these impressive optical illusions that’ll teach them about how the eyes send messages to the brain.
3. Go on a sensory stroll
Take a walk anywhere – around the block, in the woods, at the mall – and ask your kids to note everything their senses are picking up on. Maybe they can hear birds, feel wet dew on the grass, smell the neighbor cooking dinner.
This will help them realize that their senses are working at all times, even when they’re not consciously acknowledging them.
4. Find your blind spot
We all have a blind spot, an area on our retina without light receptors.
There’s an easy optical test that’ll demonstrate it, which serves as a great introduction to how our eyes work and send signals to our brain.
5. Test your smelling power
Find different things around the house – like soap, citrus fruit, old books – and let your kids smell them while blindfolded. It’s actually pretty hard to identify smells with no context.
Once they’ve mastered it try letting them smell two different scents at once, and see if their brain can differentiate between the two.
6. Conduct a cotton bud taste test
Did you know different areas of our tongue receive taste differently?
Try it out by dipping a cotton bud into different liquids (like lemon juice for sour, sugar syrup for sweet, soy sauce for umami), and putting it on different parts of the tongue. Write down how the taste differs between each area.
7. Pillow play
Put random household objects inside a pillowcase, and get your kids to use only their sense of touch to figure out what it could be.
8. Make some instruments
Musical instruments are one of the best ways to introduce the concept of hearing, and how our ears can pick up on tiny differences in sound.
9. Solve problems using senses
Give your kids questions to answer or problems that they can solve using all their senses.
A classic is “is this sugar or salt?” They can use all five senses to make observations and then draw a conclusion. Draw up a chart they can fill out as they go.
5 fun senses worksheets for kids
1. Overview of the five senses
This worksheet bundle is an excellent introduction to our five senses, how they work, and why they’re so important. Use it as a jumping-off point before tackling some hands-on activities.
2. Senses and feelings
While our senses send us a constant stream of information about the world, they’re very different from feelings.
Our worksheets explain the differences between the two: senses pick up on outside sources, while feelings are more internal.
3. Sense organs
Once your kids understand the concept of the five senses, they can then learn all about the biology behind them. How exactly do our eyes capture light? How do smells even work?
This bumper bundle of 26 worksheets answers every question your kids could have about our sense organs and how they process information.
Eyes are downright impressive. They detect light, then transform it into information that travels to our brain and forms pictures.
It’s a pretty abstract concept to wrap your head around, but this fact file and worksheet pack breaks it all down into kid-friendly explanations with activities to make it all fun and engaging.
Our ears are constantly working – even when we’re asleep they’re still picking up sounds. But how? Tiny hair cells inside our ears pick up on sound waves traveling through the air, and then turn them into electricity which is sent to the brain.
Our 9-page worksheet bundle covers all things ears, with color diagrams and activity pages.
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