The Senses


There are many different and fun activities to introduce your child to (or to review) the five senses.  This is a great Theme Day to do with siblings of various ages as you can teach your preschooler about the senses while still engaging older children via the experiments.

Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.



“Food Party” by Barenaked Ladies from their children’s album Snacktime is a funny little song with various tastes and textures of food introducing themselves at the food party.

I couldn’t think of any other songs that are about the senses but you could play a music game with your child (see below) and use any songs for that.




You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “The Senses  Coloring Page” or print out my Five Senses Coloring Page.



Print out a Five Senses Word Search: Easy The Five Senses Word Search or Difficult Five Senses Word Search.

Check here for the answer keys: Easy Five Senses Word Search Key or Difficult Five Senses Word Search Key.



Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about the senses.


Go to the library with your child to find some books about the senses.


Go to the library on your own to find books about the senses from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day.  Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (type “senses” under “children’s books”).  Reserve them if you can to save time.


Try to find some of these nonfiction/learning titles:

· Brain Power: The Brain, Nervous System, and Senses, by Dr. Patricia Macnair, Kiongfisher, 2005 – Older kids might like this book which not only looks at the senses but also has more information on the brain.

· Explore Your Senses: Smell, by Laurence Pringle, Benchmark Books, 2000 – This book would be good for older children as it goes into more detail about the sense of smell.  Other books in this series include: Hearing, Sight, Taste and Touch.

·  Hearing, by Rebecca Olien, Capstone Press, 2006 – This is a thorough little book with easy to understand information on the sense of hearing in humans and animals.   It has photographs and an illustration of ear and includes a glossary of scientific terms used throughout at the end, and even has a hands-on activity to conclude.  Other books in this series that we looked at were: Tasting and Touching.

· My Senses Help Me, by Bobbie Kalman, Crabtree Publishing Company, 2010 – This book would be appropriate for beginner readers as it offers photographs and very simplistic text in a large font.

· Senses at the Seashore, by Shelley Rotner, Millbrook Press, 2006 – This has big photographs and easy text highlighting  what one can see, smell, hear, taste and touch at the beach.  Other titles in this series that we looked at were: Senses in the City and Senses on the Farm.

· Touch, by Kay Woodward, Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2005 – This book has a good overview of the sense of touch and uses mostly photographs to explore how we use touch.  It also includes information on animals and insects as well as an activity at the end.  Other books in this series that we looked at were: Hearing, Sight, Smell and Taste.

· Your Tongue Can Tell, by Vicki Cobb and illustrations by Cynthia C. Lewis, The Millbrook Press, 2000 – This is a really fun book that really examines the sense of taste well by looking at all the separate tastes and providing  some easy to perform experiments and activities.

· What Happens When You Use Your Senses?, by Jacui Bailey, Rosen Publishing Group Inc., 2009 – This is a thorough easy to read and understand book about all the senses.

· Wow!: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read about the Five Senses, written by Trudee Romanek and illustrated by Rose Cowles, Kids Can Press, 2004 – This book is perfect for grade- school children looking to learn a bit more about each of the five senses as it goes beyond the basics and also includes a few “try it” activities.


Here are some other titles to consider:

· The Magic School Bus: Explores the Senses, by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen, Scholastic Inc., 1999 – In a twist from others in the series the children are transported in the magical school bus with their new Vice Principal to catch up with their teacher Ms. Frizzle.  Along the way they explore a human eye, brain, etc..

· More Than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art With All Five Senses, by Bob Raczka, The Millbrook Press, 2003 – This is a unique one as it offers paintings from both contemporary and classic artists and groups them according to the senses asking the reader to imagine the tastes, sounds, smells and textures of each painting.

· You Can’t Taste a Pickle With Your Ear, by Harriet Ziefert and pictures by Amanda Haley, Blue Apple Books, 2002 – This illustrated book offers interesting facts, questions for discussions with your children and silly poems about each of the senses.



Materials: Paper, old magazines that can be cut up, child safe scissors, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers.


Step 1: Search through magazines to find and cut out pictures of the body parts associated with the five senses: eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hands.

Step 2: have your child glue the pictures onto the paper to make a collage.

Step 3: Display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.



Materials: Paper, old magazines that can be cut up, child safe scissors, glue stick, markers or crayons.


Step 1: Help your child sort through magazines to find and cut out pictures of eyes, ears, mouths, hands and noses.

Step 2: Let your child glue the body parts onto the paper to create a funny face.

Step 3: Display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.


The following are individual crafts based on each of the five senses which will highlight each sense.


Materials: Floss, two paper cups, a needle (for adult use only), two paper clips or buttons.


Step 1: (Adult step only) Prick a needle in the middle of the bottom of each paper cup.

Step 2: Cut a long piece of floss (the longer the better) and thread each end through the pin hole on each cup.

Step 3: Tie each end of the floss to a paper clip or button.

Step 4: You take one paper cup and your child takes the other cup and walks away from each other.  The string must be pulled tight.  Now take turns talking into the cup and listening.




Materials: Crayons, white paper and various things of texture (Sandpaper, coins, a piece of corrugated cardboard, a leaf...)


Step 1: Give your child the textured items and feel each item.

Step 2: Show your child how to make a rubbing of the texture by placing it under the paper and rubbing a crayon over it.  Let your child make more rubbings.

Step 3: You can also take the paper and crayons around your house or outside looking for other things to try to make rubbings of (like cement).  Be sure to try to make a rubbing from something smooth so your child can see that smooth things will not make a textured picture like rough or bumpy things.

Step 4: Display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.




Materials: plain yogurt, food colouring, chocolate sauce, strawberry (or other type) of jam, basil pesto (there are pine nuts in this so be careful of any allergies), pretzels, tooth picks, a spoon, plates


Step 1: Put a spoon of plain yogurt onto each plate.

Step 2: Put a squirt of food colouring onto the yogurt on only one plate and set a toothpick beside that one.  Let your child use the toothpick to draw a picture or patterns in the yogurt.  When he she is finished you can both taste the yogurt.  Its flavour is not affected by the food colouring.  Plain yogurt is generally sour so explain to your child the name of that taste.

Step 3: Put a spoonful of shredded strong cheddar cheese and feta cheese onto the next plate of yogurt and place a toothpick beside that one.  Let your child use the toothpick to draw a picture or patterns in the yogurt.  When he/she is finished you can both taste the yogurt.  The yogurt should now be saltier so explain to your child the name of that taste.

Step 4: Put a spoonful of finely shredded lemon rind onto the next plate of yogurt and place a toothpick beside that one.  Let your child use the toothpick to draw a picture or patterns in the yogurt.  When he/she is finished you can both taste the yogurt.  The yogurt should now be bitter so explain to your child the name of that taste.

Step 5: Lastly, put a squirt of chocolate sauce onto the yogurt on only one plate and set a toothpick beside that one.  Let your child use the toothpick to again draw a picture or patterns in the yogurt.  When he/she is finished you can both taste the yogurt.  The yogurt should now be sweet so explain to your child the name of that taste.





Materials: assorted fresh or dried herbs and spices, white glue, paper.


Step 1: Put the assorted herbs in various bowls.

Step 2: Let your child apply white glue onto the paper.

Step 3: Pass one herb bowl to your child and let him/her smell the herb before sprinkling it onto the white glue (try crushing and rubbing the herbs to smell the scent clearly).

Step 4:  Continue to show your child each herb and smell each herb before he/she uses each herb in the picture.

Step 5: Ask your child which herb he/she liked the smell of the best.

Step 6: Let the glue dry before displaying.




NOTE: Before you do this craft Show your child what “Still Life” paintings look by going through an art book or looking online:


Materials: A zip-lock bag, a pencil, white paper to draw on, (optional crayons or markers), construction paper (optional). a number of items of your child’s choice (construction paper (optional)


Step1: Give your child the re-sealable bag and have him/her run around the house/kitchen/room to find objects of various colours (8 to 10 objects).

Step 2: After your child has searched for his/her items have him/her arrange them on a table.

Step 3:  Explain to your child that he/she will be drawing a still-life (which is just an artist looking at an arrangement of objects and drawing or painting what is seen.

Step 4:  Let your child now draw his/own still life using crayons, markers or pencil crayons.

Step 5: (Optional) Help your child frame the still life by gluing it onto a larger (different coloured) piece of construction paper.




Seeing Smoothie: 

Show your child how you can SEE the colour change  of certain foods used in a smoothie by blending up the following ingredients: 1 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of vanilla yogurt, 1 banana, 1 tsp of honey, I handful of frozen berries and 5 or 6 ice cubes.

Hearing Popcorn:

Have your child LISTEN to the sound of corn kernels  changing to popcorn by making some microwave popcorn.


Tasting Pizza:

Blind fold your child and have him/her TASTE the following individual ingredients: a piece of an English Muffin,  shredded mozzarella, tomato sauce, dried Italian herbs, and any other pizza toppings your child usually enjoys.

Have your child guess what you will be making for lunch based on the tastes.  Then assemble mini-pizzas and broil in the oven to eat.


Touching Tacos:

Let your child TOUCH all the different toppings of a taco by assembling his/her own taco.


Smelling Cookies:

While your child is busy doing a different activity or still eating dinner bake some refrigerated cookie dough and have your child SMELL what is baking and guess what it is.



Print out my Senses Search: Inside chart and as a family go to various rooms in your home and record what you can see, smell, hear, feel and possibly taste OR go for a walk and with a copy of my Senses Search: Outside chart and record your family’s answers.


Print out my Imaginary Sense Chart and as a family suggest various locations (the zoo, the beach, a different county…) and discuss what you might see, smell, hear, feel and possibly taste there.


Print out my Safe Senses Chart and as a family brainstorm the various ways your senses keep you safe (for example your sense of smell can alert you to the smoke of a fire, your sense of touch tells your body when it has had too much sun…).


The following are individual learning activities based on each of the five senses.


SEARCH AND FIND: Wander through the house with your child to find something soft, hard, sticky, fuzzy, prickly, smooth, rough, furry...

CAN YOU FEEL IT WITH MITTENS?: Blindfold your child and have him/her wear mittens.  Then place objects in his/her hands and see if your child can guess what the object is just by feeling it.  Then have them remove the mittens to see how different it feels.



BLIND FOLD WALK:  Take turns blindfolding members of your family and then leading them around the house to listen to guess where they are or what the sound is (i.e. water running in the shower, dryer on, microwave…)

QUIET LISTENING: Sit with your child either inside the house or outside and simply close your eyes and then listen.   After a few minutes discuss what you heard.

WHAT ARE SOUND WAVES LIKE?: Have your child out his/her fingers on his/her throat and then talk to feel the sound waves.  Fill a pan with water and tilt it to create a wave once it is rested back on the table.  Watch the waves move.  Explain that sound is a wave which is how it travels and is why sounds carry over distances (perhaps you heard some distant sounds in the above QUIET LISTENING activity).



TASTE BUDS: Print out My Taste Buds worksheet and colour it while discussing what things your child may have eaten thus far for the Theme Day from each group.

BLINDFOLD TASTE TEST:  Can your kids guess what eat food is?  My boys love this game and we ended up doing this one for a long time. Here are some suggestions but feel free to add your own:

Sweet: sugar, chocolate chips

Salty: pretzels,olives

Bitter: instant coffee, cocoa

Sour: lemon, pickles



MAGNIFYING GLASS:  Go around the house examining things with a magnifying glass and talking about how things may look different from close up.  You cold also examine the objects you found in the TOUCHING activity.

CRAYON SORTING:  Sort though your crayons.  Make piles of different colours.  Then try to sort by length.  Can you sort by thickness?

MEMORY TRAY: Gather ten small items and place them in a rectangular cake pan and then cover the pan with a cloth.  Let your children look in the pan for 10 seconds and then cover it again.  Have them write out as many of the items as they can remember.  For a variation: remove one item and have them guess or what’s missing!



SMELLING ROOMS BLINDFOLDED:  Can you or your child identify what room you are in by smell?


SMELL BLINDFOLD TEST: Blindfold your child and see if he/she can guess the foods just by smelling.  Try things like jam, honey, yogurt, crackers, cereal, marshmallows, lemon, orange...


NOSE PLUGGED TASTE TEST: Redo the TASTING activity but have your child plug his/her nose.  Can the foods still be identified?  Sometimes our sense of smell makes things taste differently.




DANCING: What better way to enjoy the sense of hearing than to listen to music and dance!

MUSICAL CHAIRS: Another fun way to listen to music is to play musical chairs.


SINGING: Have a sing-a-long with your children singing your favourite tunes.


TELEPHONE GAME: This works best with a larger group.  Sit in a circle and have one person whisper a silly saying in the person sitting to his/her left.  Then that person whispers what he/she heard without having it repeated again to the person to his/her left.  This continues until it reaches the last person who announces what he/she heard.  Usually the saying has changed a lot!





TIC TAC TASTE: Play X’s and O’s using Cheerios and raisins in place of the X’s and O’s.






HAND SHADOW PUPPETS:  Go into a dark room with a flash light and make shadow puppets on the wall.


PHOTO ALBUM/ ART BOOK I SPY:  Look in family photo albums or in any art books you may have from home or the library and play “I Spy” by looking for details in the photographs or art.


OPTICAL ILLUSIONS WEBSITES:  If your child is interested in Optical Illusions try these two sites:  or





BAKING: Bake some of your family’s favourite treats and smell the yummy goodness!





MAKE SOME GOOP:  Add 1/2 cup of corn starch, 1/4 cup of water, and a few drops of green (or other colour) food colouring together in a bowl and mix with your fingers.  Is it solid or liquid?





Try some of these activities: Cloud watching, camera safari (taking photos of animals), star gazing, walking barefoot on grass...

Pick four tastes and pack a picnic.


For a SEEING FIELD TRIP visit an Art museum, for a SMELLING FIELD TRIP visit a bakery, for a HEARING FIELD TRIP attend a concert, for a TOUCHING FIELD TRIP got to a fabric store, for a TASTING FIELD TRIP got to a restaurant.

SCIENCE MUSEUM: Many Science Museums offer sections about the body see what you can discover at your local museum.

Learning about the five senses is fun!

See if your local museum has anything about the senses

-Telus World of Science, Edmonton

Photo: C Wright

The Five Senses Collage

Five Senses Funny Face

HEARING CRAFT: Paper Cup Telephones

TOUCHING CRAFT: Crayon Rubbings



SEEING CRAFT: Still Life Drawing

By my 4 year old son

SEEING CRAFT: Still Life Drawing

By my 8 year old son



SEEING SNACK: Blend up a smoothie!

TASTING FUN: Tic Tac Taste!