The Five Senses is a classic preschool theme because young kids learn through these senses. If you have ever watched a baby mouth objects it’s not because they are hungry or really really want to gross you out it’s because they are exploring how they feel with their mouths. These 21 activities are specifically designed with the a sense ( or more) in mind but even when you aren’t studying this theme specifically try to incorporate as many multi sensory activities in your child’s day .
I had grand plans for dying rice, finding star shaped containers and some flags for a 4th of July sensory bin but life got in the way and I ran out of time. So yesterday when my daughter and I had some time alone and quiet ( after weeks of family and running around) I used it to make this simple sensory activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need a tray or pan some shaving cream, paint ( finger paint works great!) , glitter and some tools for mixing like paint brushes , spoons and spatulas.
- Spray the shaving cream in.
- Add the paint. I started just by squeezing it on, then used a brush to make it look like fireworks . My daughter couldn’t care less she is 2 and has only ever seen them once . The goal for her is to mix and explore.
- Add glitter! For you who aren’t keen on glitter you will like this , the glitter doesn’t spread all over. Ready for the kiddo- who was napping. Luckily the cream stays fluffy.
- Time to explore. She immediately went for the tools I had laid out for her.
- Asked for a napkin when she got some on her fingers.
- Mixed and mixed.
While she was exploring I narrated some, asked her what she saw, what she liked… but didn’t direct . Let them explore until they start throwing it on the floor or push away from the table. The great thing about this is that it really does last longer than you’d think. Hours later when my son got home from the beach with his dad he gave it a few mixes too.
I know tomorrow is Valentine’s Day but my mind is already planning St.Patrick’s Day. If you need a Valentine’s Day craft idea we have those too but I had to share this because it was too much fun to keep to ourselves any longer. The major bonus of this project was that for toddlers who are putting everything in their mouths it’s no biggie if they take a bite. I added koolaid to make it smell great and sour to discourage eating it. This must be kept in the fridge so make some , you won’t regret it.
- Gather your materials. I used 6 foil pans I had on hand but any container will work to set the gelatin, you will need plain gelatin packets 4 per color, food color, spoons, a pot, measuring cups and koolaid for scent/added color. Also a big tub and some bath toys for playing. I have been asked why not just use jello. I didn’t want my kids to eat this – I wanted it to smell great but taste yucky.
- Start by mixing your colors. I used koolaid mostly for scent but also for color.
- Make the gelatin. I used the recipe on the back of the knox gelatin box adjusting it to 1/2 as much liquid ( 1/2 cup of cool and 1 cup hot and 4 envelopes of gelatin) as the recipe called for to make it thicker for play using plain water with color/ koolaid in it. I made all 6 colors.
- Let cool – I had to stack them in my fridge so I popped a few in the freezer for a minute to stiffen and totally forgot about this purple one… if froze, and was unusable. The kids didn’t miss it at all.
- When set slice into pieces. I used a knife then scraped it into the tub using a spatula.
- Add kids and toys. He was so excited he was bouncing, this is the best picture of many very blurry bouncy pictures I took.
- You can probably tell we did this in our bathroom, please find a place where tiny bits of color won’t ruin anything. The gelatin won’t stain hands but can be absorbed into clothes and other fabrics. Please go somewhere where kids can have fun without you hovering and you won’t have to search for stain removers on Pinterest after this project. Our bathroom was perfect, I had a damp cloth handy for little bits that got shaken off hands or toys and flung all over. It also had a door to stop kids from running into the rest of the house before hands were washed. All this said it was still completely worth it.
- They stuck them on the side of the tub.
- Smelled it.
- Tasted it ( love my son’s face, he’s telling her not to eat it).
- Mixed them all up and had a blast.
No I am not suggesting your kids paint their eyeballs, but rather paint WITH eyeballs ( or balls that look like eyeballs). This is a simple and fast activity that is perfect for the goulish , gross out season upon us without being too icky for more squeamish kids. Be mindful of doing this with kids who are still putting things in their mouths, opt for bigger balls for them, if it can fit in their mouth get a new ball that can’t.
- Gather your materials. You will need some liquid paint in your kiddo’s favorite colors ( this is also a great color mixing activity if you want to throw a lesson in to it), some eyeball bouncy balls ( found in Halloween section of 3 big box stores I have been to), paper and a box or container.
- Pop the paper in.
- Pour in the paint
Two Scary Books
Twelve Terrible Things by Marty Kelley is horrifying to me, yet my son loves this book. He must have slipped it in our library bag because I have no recollection of choosing this book, and I didn’t pre read it when we got home. By then it was too late, my son was hooked on the dark humor this book delivers. The book offers up 12 terrible things, like a scary clown, a goldfish on it’s way down the toilet and monsters under the bed . The illustrations are all from the reader’s view point so the scary things are looking right at you! I am easily scared , I can’t watch horror film trailers without getting nightmares. I screamed twice reading this , my son just wanted “more more!” . I really don’t recommend this book for young kids although some older ones who like scary things will love it.
The Book That Eats People by John Perry makes me laugh hysterically , so hard it was hard at times to read the words but it’s really really gruesome. This is not a book for kids that are squeamish, prone to imaginative nightmares or anxiety about death. That said if your child can handle a little funny horror, they will love this book. The story follows this human eating book as it wreaks havoc and gobbles people up! I beg parents to pre read this because it may be hilarious to me and my macabre little man but it may seriously frighten your child.
Who said science can’t be yummy? Let your kids explore their senses with this blind taste and smell test using ice cream. Ice cream gets turned into a science experiment with this simple and oh so yummy experiment. Teaching about the five senses has always been one of my favorite themes and I guarantee your kids will love this science lesson too. I have also done this with plain yogurt and natural food flavoring if ice cream isn’t an option. You can use a blindfold if your child will tolerate it, my son doesn’t like them and a simple ” If you peak the activity is over.” was enough to keep his eyes glued shut during the experiment.
- Gather your materials. You will need multiple flavors of ice cream, a sheet of paper, markers, peel off labels, cups to conceal the ice cream containers and one or more spoons. These tiny single serve Hagen-Daz were perfect for this and the left overs weren’t too plentiful.
- Number your cups.
- Make a basic graph, you could make it on the computer and print it out but there is no need for perfection, just fun and learning.
- Write the flavor on the chart and cover with labels. Your child will peel these off after all the tests and predictions are recorded.
- Place the ice cream in the cups with the correct number. Can you tell I had a little pre taste test taste of some ? Can you blame me?
- Invite your child to begin the test. Explain why you want them to have their eyes closed, not just because you want to keep it a secret from them, but because when you aren’t using one sense the others work harder.
- Smell the first and make a prediction. My son inherited my accurate sniffer, he was like ” That is mango , I know it!”
- Repeat. I was fascinated by his ability to recognize smell and taste as well as his honest aversion to peanut butter. Seriously who doesn’t love peanut butter? My kid.
- Fill your graph in as you go.
- After all the tests – peel and reveal! He loved this part almost as much as tasting them. He was shocked that #2 was caramel not vanilla!
- Choose your favorite to have as an after experiment snack! Chocolate won out at our house.
Great 5 Senses Book!
all book lists include affiliate links
Look, Listen, Taste, Touch, and Smell: Learning About Your Five Sensesby Pamela Hill Nettleton is a really great find. The book doesn’t separate the senses, instead the author explains all the ways the senses work in specific situations. My son was intrigued by the ideas of smores and kept telling me “I want to smell and taste some smores Mommy, please!” I liked how it explained the connection between the areas of our bodies we associated with the senses ( mouth, eyes, nose, skin and ears) and the brain. The author succeeds in making it accessible for young kids but not boring for older ones. Good Find!!