Five Senses Activities for Kids

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Kids can begin to explore neuroscience and biology through a variety of exercises that engage each of their five senses. Keep reading for some kid-friendly sensory activities and more resources to help you learn about the five senses.

Five Senses Activities

Below find introductory exercises in perception for each of the five senses, as well as integrated activities to teach students about the relationships between their different senses.

Sight Activities

Depth Perception

Ever wondered why we have two eyes, and not just one? Here's an activity to show how your eyes work together to give you the power of depth perception. For this activity, all you need is your fingers. Close one eye and attempt to touch your two pointer fingers together. Now try it with both eyes open. What happens? What do you notice?

Seeing in the Dark

For this activity you'll need marbles of different colors, and bowls or other dishes for sorting them. This exercise introduces the concept of 'dark adaptation'.

  • Start by simply sorting the marbles into groups by color.
  • Mix the marbles back together, and turn the lights off, attempting to sort them by color again in the dark.
  • Turn the lights on, and make note of the number of mistakes made.
  • Turn the lights off again, and allow about ten minutes for your eyes to adjust.
  • Try sorting by color again.

Sound Activities

Sounds of Silence

What sounds can you hear when everyone around you is being totally quiet? You may notice sounds from around the building, or form outdoors, or maybe you'll hear the sound of electronics that are running in the room. Make note of the sounds you hear when the room is 'silent'. Compare with other students to see if they notice the same noises, or maybe heard something you didn't.

Who and Where

For this group activity, one person will sit in the middle of the classroom with their eyes closed, or blindfolded if they are comfortable. The rest of the group will sit in a circle around the person. From their seats in the circle, different group members will take turns saying the name of the person in the middle. Using their sense of sound as a guide, the person in the middle will point at the person they believe is speaking, and say their name.

Taste Activities

Weird Jelly Beans

Jellybeans come in a variety of strange and unique flavors. Using a random assortment of flavors, conduct a blind taste test and record what flavor you think you're experiencing, and rate each flavor. Compare notes with the rest of the group, and see where tastes overlap.

Dry Mouth Taste Test

An important part of tasting food is saliva, which helps to dissolve the food on your tongue. For this activity you'll need paper towels, dry food goods with different taste qualities (salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), and water to use as a palate cleanser.

  • Dry your tongue using a clean paper towel.
  • Place one of the food samples on your tongue, and see if you can taste anything.
  • Rinse your mouth with water.
  • Repeat steps until you've sampled each flavor.

Smell Activities

Scent Memories

The most important thing you'll need for this activity is a variety of fragrant items, such as pinecones, lemon, rosemary, mint, cookies, bleu cheese, coffee grounds, crayons, and Play-Doh. Place each of the items in a paper bag. Everyone will close their eyes, open the bag and smell what's inside. Students should then answer the following questions:

  • What is the item in the bag?
  • Do you like the smell of it?
  • What memories do you associate with that smell?

Mixed Scent Signals

For this activity, you'll need several mixes of strongly scented items in different paper bags. See if, without looking, you can correctly identify which smells are in each bag. Can your sense of smell pick out all the different items?

Touch Activities

Touch Puzzle

To complete this activity, you'll need a simple puzzle with only 4 or 5 pieces. Using only your sense of touch, see if you can fit the pieces together and complete the puzzle. How is this experience different than using your vision to assist you?

Blind to the Touch

Place a collection of small items into a bag or pillowcase. Reach in and see if you can identify the items without looking. Challenge yourself by including highly similar items into the bag.

Integrating the Senses Activities

No Nose Taste Test

Ever smelled something cooking and felt like you could almost taste it? That's because smell plays a big role in our sense of taste. Test this out by tasting different foods while plugging your nose.

Colored All Wrong

Using food coloring, change the color of different drinks, like water, milk, or soda. If your milk is blue or green, does it change your expectation of how it will taste? If you color water orange or purple, do you find you expect orange or grape flavor as well? Notice how vision influences your sense of taste.

Learning More About the Senses

Interested in finding out more about the sense and perception? Check out the following chapters, with lessons to help you learn why our senses behave the way they do, and how the science behind perception works.

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