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Teaching the Five Senses


Tips for Pre-K Teachers



By Shyrelle Eubanks, NEA Student Achievement Department

The best way to teach children about their senses is to have them use them. Actually smell, see, taste, hear, and touch. Teachers of two-year-olds need to keep the lessons very simple. Teachers of three- and four-year-olds should expand the activities as the children move through the early childhood center.

Here are some tips for teaching two-year-olds the five senses:

  1. Start with labeling the body parts. Use a felt board shaped like a face and have children place cutouts (nose, eyes, ears, mouth, and so on) in the proper place.

  2. Then lead the children in games where they touch or identify their own body parts (kind of like Simon Says, but forget the rules for two-year-olds). Keep it short. 

  3. Once all the children clearly know where everything is, begin to talk about the senses: "eyes are for seeing, noses for smelling, etc." 

  4. Continue with the basics. Focus on --

    Seeing and not seeing -- Use blindfolds.

    Simple tastes (sweet, sour, salty) -- Have them taste lots of food and spices.

    Familiar smells (things they smell often, like peanut butter, baby products) -- Have them smell items and tell them what they are smelling.

    Textures (soft, hard, scratchy) -- Have them feel fur, sand paper, and other textured objects.

    Sounds (loud, soft) -- Have them make loud noises and listen to soft music.

  5. Work on vocabulary development. For two-year-olds, the key is giving them the language and expanding their vocabulary. Keep it simple -- stay with familiar objects.  It is most important for two-year-olds to understand the things that are in their immediate environment.  The children will become frustrated if the teacher presents experiences that are too abstract.

Teaching two-year-olds the five senses takes about two to three weeks. They need a couple of days to fully understand some of the ideas. They'll let the teacher know when they are ready to move to the next concept.

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Shyrelle Eubanks is a National Education Association staff person in the Student Achievement Department and a specialist in early childhood development.



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