I don't often “plan a unit”. Recently I attempted to do so with learning about the eye. We hit a few items on the list, but I opted to place the unit on eyes on the back burner. My son just didn't seem interested in the activities. So, I wasn't going to force him to do the five senses activities.
Young children are amazing. Adults don't realize the information they soak into their developing minds. I was wrong about being interested in learning about the eyes. The issue was that I came at it from the wrong angle and didn't appeal to my son's nature.
Five senses activities are intriguing to children and in many cases are great for sensory development.
Out of nowhere, my son asked me: “Mama, so if people couldn't see, it would be like they're blindfolded? Would it be dark? I would have to use my hands to know where I was going? How would I get around?”
My son is – by nature – a lover. He cares deeply about the things and the people in his life. As a side note, knowing this quality embodies my son makes it easier to understand that his behavior during meltdowns isn't part of who he is. So, I know how better to speak with him about the meltdowns.
Teaching Empathy through Five Senses Activities
I remembered one of the books we checked out from the library would be a perfect conversation starter on these questions. So, I promptly dug out Helen Keller: The World in Her Heart by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Her husband, James Ransome, created the artwork that earned him the Coretta Scott King Award.
The book perfectly illustrates the journey of Helen Keller by writing her story with rhythm and song. The words gracefully tell us about Keller's relationship with her teacher and depict a world quite opposite to what was most likely going on in her mind during that time. The juxtaposition of her struggle with the sweet, peaceful telling of the story is powerful.
The book teaches lessons about empathy and gives us a taste of the world without seeing or hearing, to experience the world through smell, taste, and touch. Ripe for activities with young children, my son led me in his learning about what it might be like to have to use your hands to experience and communicate with the world.
The Sense of Sight & Hearing Activities
- Mystery Bag
- Go on a blindfolded walk by yourself in your home and then in your yard
- Go on a blindfolded walk with guidance from a friend (great trust building activity)
- Describe the taste of various foods with the eye shut
- Go on a Listening Walk. Was it hard for you? How did it make you feel?
- Go on a walk with earplugs & blindfolded. What do you notice? Was it scary? Frustrating?
- Close your eyes and have someone write letters on your palm. Can you tell what he is writing?
- Make Smelling Bottles and identify with and without a blindfold
- Practice the Silence Game
- Paint Blindfolded