3 engaging ways for children to explore their 5 senses

Discovering sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing!

By Joy Samson, Lalyn Buiza and April Loke 

Exploring one’s senses is one of the most natural and basic ways for preschool children to learn and discover about the world around them. 

Sensory play, or play that stimulates any of a child’s senses, is not only fun but offers many benefits for child development, including helping children understand how their actions affect what’s around them, enhancing memory, fine motor and observational skills, and encouraging creative thinking and problem solving.  

1. Sensory Exploration

At Little Seeds Preschool (Ascension), we have various weekly activities that encourage our children to use their senses to explore and discover, such as Colour Discovery. 

During one activity, the children observed and touched plastic balls and pom poms of different colours, sizes and textures. Surprisingly, even with simple materials, the children were engaged in exploring each material using their five senses. 

We then gave the children toilet rolls and asked them to observe how the balls and pom poms rolled into the toilet rolls. The children discovered that bigger balls did not fit into the narrow toilet roll. Some children paused and said, “Uh-oh, red ball too big!”  
We allowed them to find a solution to this challenge. Some of them figured out that smaller balls could pass through.

2. Art Projects and Outdoor Activities

We then proceeded to an art & craft activity where the children had fun dipping the ball into the paint and onto the paper. The children were amazed when they saw the colourful prints on the paper!  

We extended their learning of colour discovery during our outdoor walks where we encouraged our children to look at their surroundings through coloured plastics. 

Afterwards, we asked the children to pick up leaves, flowers, twigs and husks and look at them through the coloured plastics to see the change in colour of the items. They were wowed by their new discovery. The children happily brought their nature finds into the classroom. Discovering colours with their senses has never been this fun!  

As we nurture the young minds of our children, we also learn from them as they happily enjoy and engage in every activity. Our perspective as educators broadened as the children evolve and adapt in their different learning skills.   

3. Cooking and Baking

Another fun and creative way to learn about senses is through cooking. As part of their project topic “Sensing and Knowing”, the N2 children at Little Seeds Preschool (Capstone) learnt about their different senses through making popcorn!  
Before cooking the popcorn, the children used their senses to explore the uncooked popcorn kernels. They observed that the kernels were hard and yellow without much smell. 

Observing the popcorn kernels

The children asked excitedly: “Can I help to cook?” and helped to pour the uncooked popcorn kernels into a hot pot.  

Once the lid of the pot was closed, they could not contain their excitement. 
“Why is it not cooking yet?” the children asked.  

We explained that they needed to wait as it takes time for the popcorn to cook. 

Waiting for the popcorn to pop!

Just then, a loud “pop” sound startled the children. Their eyes widened in surprise as they broke into wide grins. “It’s popping!” they exclaimed excitedly as they crowded around to watch the popcorn popping. “It looks like it’s dancing!” the children giggled. “Why does the popcorn go ‘pop’?” Caleb asked. “I can smell it!” Faith said. The children keenly observed that the popcorn changed in shape, size, colour and smell. “It’s white now!” they commented. 

Eating the yummy popcorn

 Once the popcorn was cooked, we added some salt and melted butter to make a batch of savoury popcorn and sweet caramel sauce on another batch of sweet popcorn. The children gobbled down all the popcorn and even politely requested more. It looked like they really enjoyed the cooking lesson! Success! 

Tip: Helping our children discover their five senses does not require a lot of effort or energy. Using everyday household items and items in nature is enough. We can use every opportunity both indoors and outdoors to explore and learn!  
To find out more about our preschools, visit https://littleseeds.edu.sg/

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