Teaching the Five Senses
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Once all the children clearly know where everything is, begin to talk about the senses: "eyes are for seeing, noses for smelling, etc."
- 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.
- 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.
Shyrelle Eubanks is a National Education Association staff person in the Student Achievement Department and a specialist in early childhood development.