Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Five Senses Featuring Mr. Broom!

It's a great time of year to teach The Five Senses.  Fall is full of everything that makes our senses smile.  My other favorite times to teach or review the senses are Christmas and Spring. I wanted to revisit my Five Senses Unit.  I put together everything I do for the whole unit right here!  I hope you find some fun things to use with your class.

I don't think I could ever again teach The Five Senses without  Mr. Broom.  He actually lives right in my classroom closet- and remains virtually unnoticed most weeks of the year, but during our Five Senses week, he is the star!

He could not be a less-techy, less-fancy prop, but every student who comes back to visit me always remembers him and our week learning about the senses. In fact, we just had Open House last Wednesday and one of my boys (now in 5th grade) came back to see me, and as he was looking around he said, "Where's Mr. Broom?"  I loved it!

I made the features for Mr. Broom's senses, but you could use Mr. Potato head pieces or anything else you can think of that would be more clever. Art is NOT my strong suit, as you probably noticed! But it's perfectly okay, because you want those features to be over-exaggerated and memorable.

I am going to share a quick overview of my Five Senses Week, and some activities I love to do for each sense. I will condense my descriptions since there are a LOT- but you can click on the heading to see my original post about the sense at my blog that has more detail if you would like.

I made a Five Senses Prezi where I put all of the links I use for this unit together in one place, along with the booklet that I use for each sense. We use the Prezi each day, throughout the day-both to teach about the senses and review  whenever we have some extra time.

Sense of Smell

When I introduce Mr. Broom, he comes to us with only his nose- his first sense. I introduce the sense of smell by reading Follow Your Nose by Paul Showers and Sense of Smell  by Maria Ruiz. We do activities all day long to that help the children think about their sense of smell.  I made scented playdough for Free Choice time.  I had never made the Bisquick play dough before in the microwave, but it was so easy and a great texture.

Here is the recipe:

Bisquick Play Dough

2 cups Bisquick
1 cup salt
2 cups water
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp oil

Mix all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Scrape and stir the bowl. Microwave for another 3 minutes. Mine was perfect to knead then. If not, microwave for another minute.

I separated this into 3 parts and put it into Ziplock bags.  I added the food coloring and mixed it in the bags so the play dough was beautiful colors - and my hands were still human looking.  I also added the extracts at this time.

These are the colors/flavors I made:  brown- real cinnamon; yellow- banana; orange- orange; green- mint; pink- coconut (because that was the other extract I had... and I didn't have something fun like raspberry or strawberry); white- vanilla

I used quite a bit of extract so it smelled great. (So did my kitchen!) I think the kids were most fascinated with the real cinnamon.   

Last week, I made Pumpkin Pie Playdoh.  Yum.  I added lots of pumpkin pie spice (which I found on sale- cause otherwise it's really expensive!) and orange food coloring.

For our quiet walks in the hall, I use another smell favorite.   Before we leave the classroom, I put a magic dot on each child's hand to smell, to remind them to be quiet and walk nicely in the hall.  I bought these last year, and they have been worth every single penny.  The kids love them!


During Literacy Centers, we work on Secret Scented Sight Words.  (This sounded much better than Secret Smelly Sight Words.) I tried having the children write secret sight words for each other, but found it worked much better if I prepared the papers (by writing words with white crayons on white paper), and the children  colored over the white space to reveal the secret word that I wrote.  It is a good day when those smelly markers make an appearance!  You could also use watercolors over white crayon for this activity.

Our next activity is Guess the Smell!  The children sit in a circle.  They know to nod their head "yes" if they think they know the smell, but nobody says a word until I count to three after we have all had a chance to smell, and we say the answer together.  They do an awesome job with this.  It only takes one time when a child "goofs," shouts out the answer,  and someone acts disappointed, and then nobody else wants ruin the fun.

Last year I discovered the BEST way to have children guess smells.

These are PERFECT for smell bottles!  I put a cotton ball with mint and vanilla extracts, baby powder, cinnamon, peanut butter (that you can see on the inside of  that back yellow bottle!), and garlic powder inside these.  As I went around the circle, I just squeezed the bottle and a puff of smell came out! So easy! I got them at the Dollar Store- 2 for a dollar!  The kids loved exploring them later, too.

We complete the page in our Five Senses booklet about the Sense of Smell:
(I'm not quite sure what a duck smells like, but...)

Sense of  Sight

The children see Mr. Broom's lovely eyelashes, and usually say he should be named Mrs. Broom.  That is a great conversation starter to explain that both boys and girls have eyelashes, eyebrows, and eyelids that help keep our eyes safe and help keep dirt out of our eyes.

The children loved to make the connections that the nose hairs also help keep out dirt, which was really neat!  Look Here by Sally Hewitt is a good book to introduce the sense of sight.

We continue our lesson by talking about the names of the parts of the eye.  I have some good diagrams on my  Five Senses Prezi.

The children  turn and talk to teach these parts of the eye to a friend.  We learn that the iris is the colored part of the eye and the pupil is the dark part of the eye in the middle that lets light into the eye.  They study their friend's eye and see what color the iris was and to see the pupil.

Next, we talked about how the pupil gets bigger when it is darker, because it needs to let more light into the eye so we can see better. When it is light, the pupil is smaller.

The partners look right into each other's eyes.  I pull the shades, so when I turned off the lights it was quite dark.  They stare at each other's pupils when I turned on the lights to watch them get smaller.  This is a favorite!

Other times during the day, I bring up different Optical Illusions for the children to see- to see how our eyes see things differently sometimes.  I have yet another Optical Illusion Prezi that I use for this! (of course... haha- I love my Prezis!!!)

Our memory game is next!  I cover ten items on a tray with a towel.  As the children sit in a circle, I walk slowly around as they study the items quietly and try to remember what they see.  After all the children see the items, I cover the tray again and we try to remember the items together and make a list.  

Since Mr. Broom is just seeing for the first time, we show him how he would know if we were happy, sad, grouchy, scared, cold, tired, and mad- by making faces at him to show our emotions. This is another easy and fun favorite.  

We talk about how some people need glasses to be able to see better. Mr. Broom has some glasses to help him see better sometimes, too, of course.

 I always take out my contact lens to show them what they look like, too.  They love that.  :)

We  discussed what it means to be blind and not be able to see.  I have a beautiful real Braille book that I let the children look at and feel to show them how a blind person would read instead of looking at the words. McDonalds will give you a Braille menu. They have breakfast and lunch menus.

We also talk about how deaf people actually use their eyes to help them "hear" and speak with sign language. 

While we have a few minutes waiting for buses or before lunch, we  play I Spy- an all time favorite. 

One of my Literacy Centers is Look and Find  and I Spy books- always a hit!

Our final activity is writing and labeling our five favorite things to see in our Five Senses book.


Sense of Hearing

I show the children the diagrams of the ear on the Prezi and we talked about the different parts of the ear.  They love knowing the fun fact about the three smallest bones in their bodies being in their ears!
The hearing sense below is the  preview of my Five Senses Prezi . I  put together links that I use for each sense so they are all in one place and easy to access.

We read The Listening Walk by Paul Showers and then take our own listening walk-outside (weather permitting!)

I ask the children what they would hear if a dog were hungry, a cat wanted to come inside, someone told a funny joke, if someone had a cold, if daddy is sleeping, if someone called on the phone, if bacon were cooking on the stove, if a baby were hungry, if pigs were hungry,  and finally if they were a mouse in a house ( for quiet! :) .

We discuss  why listening is so important.  Why do we need to listen to teachers? friends? policemen? parents? fire drills?  This is another great time for a turn and talk.  It is fun to listen to their explanations.

We play a quick game of Simon Says just to be sure our ears are working well. Listening Lotto is a fun activity, too.  If we don't get a chance to go outside for our listening walk, I play the cd of sounds and we guess those. The game is fun, but usually I don't have time with the whole class to play it, so we enjoy guessing the sounds.

While the children write their five favorite sounds to hear in their books, I call up one at a time to talk to each one on our "phone."  I asked each child a question and they answered me.  This is as simple as can be, and always fun for the kids. It's a great time to have a chance say something special to each child before I put these out for exploration and they get tangled up, which will inevitably happen. Oh well! 


Here are some favorite things to hear!

I have Easter eggs filled with different things that the children can guess by listening. Ages ago- I used film canisters for this. Remember those?    I don't even think I could find them anymore.  The eggs work well.  I just tape them shut with packaging tape so they stay shut really well.  I play this with the whole group and we try to match the pictures I have of what is inside with the sound each egg makes. I have two sets of eggs so the children can also match the eggs by sound, too.   My eggs are filled with rice, cotton balls, sand, a super ball, nails, and pennies.  After we play this together as a class, I leave the eggs out so the children can play with it on their own. 


I love to share this poem with the children:

The Tiniest Sound by Mel Evans
I used to think the tiniest sound in the world might be a baby snowflake leaving a little white cloud
to drift gently down through a misty sky to the softest spot
on the tip-top tassel
of a snuggly cap
on the snoozely head
of a furry baby bunny.
What do you think…?

This is a great introduction to an interactive writing lesson about sounds.  We came up with lots of quiet, teeny tiny sounds like a snake in a field, tip toeing to sneak up on someone, blowing a dandelion to make a wish, a leaf falling, a butterfly flying, whispers, and saying quiet prayers.  You could come up with any kind of sound lists.  I was thinking that this year we may make some posters and leave them up around the room for the children to add to:  Farm Sounds, LOUD sounds, Forest Sounds, City Sounds, School Sounds, Family Sounds, Dinner Sounds, Happy Sounds,...  it is endless!

Mr. Broom may look rude sticking out his tongue, but he is just showing you that now he can taste!

I ask the children what parts of the mouth we use to taste.  Do we use our lips? teeth? tongue? We talk about the taste buds and the fact that different places on the tongue are used for different tastes. I have the children stick out their tongues and turn to a friend.  They LOVE this. We examine taste buds for a minute. Then, I use this diagram to explain which taste buds work best for which tastes.

 I use Maria Ruiz's book The Five Senses- Taste  to introduce this sense.

Bread and Jam for Frances is great for discussing how important it is to try different foods, and how only eating the same food gets dull. 

Next, we sit in a circle and get ready for our tasting party. My children are very good at waiting for everyone to have food before eating (because we practice it every day at snack!) but it is extra important for our tasting party, so we can experience the tastes together. 

I start with a pretzel for salty.  Then we get ready for our "Pucker Party." The children can explore their lemon with their other senses- feel it,  look at it, smell it, and PREPARE TO PUCKER!

There are always one or two who enjoy eating the entire lemon slice with a smile, which is very impressive to the others!

Then we move on to our M&M for sweet.   

I usually don't do "bitter."  Unsweetened chocolate would be a good choice.  I usually tell them that the medicine they take when they are sick is a good example of bitter. 

I have seen the idea of having the children use popsicle sticks to try tasting salt water, sugar water, and vinegar.  I have never tried this, though.  It is neat because they all would look the same- maybe next year! 

The children go back to their seats and have a black strip of paper.  On it, I put a pinch of salt on one side and sugar on the other.

They  examine it with magnifying glasses, smell it, touch it, but do not taste it, and have to guess which was which.  It was tricky.

Once I let them use that sense of taste, it is REALLY easy!

We draw and label our five favorite things to taste in the packet and watch some taste videos on the Smartboard.

Sense of Touch

Mr. Broom is complete with his sense of touch! Isn't he handsome?

Here is an up close look at his hands: VERY simple and homemade.  Maybe that is what the children love about him. Who knows?! (That's what I am telling myself anyway- it is probably because they feel so sorry for the way he looks!

I hot-glued different textures to each finger so the children could also feel them.

One of the first questions is usually, "Where are his feet?"  This is actually great- because we talk about how all of our skin can feel things, but that we use our hands to feel most things because our fingertips are more sensitive than other parts of our bodies.

We start our lesson by reading The Sense of Touch, by Elaine Landau.

I make feely bags for our circle activity.  I just use brown lunch bags, except for the ice and cooked spaghetti. I put a ziplock baggie inside the brown bag for those!  I always think I am going to get more sturdy bags for this, because the bags usually rip a little just from the children reaching inside.  

In my bags, I have:  a pompom, a superball , a golf ball, a screw driver, ice cubes, a candle, a stone, cooked spaghetti, a comb, and a marshmallow.    I take the bags around the circle, and the children reach in and nod if they think they know what is inside, so I can continue on.  We only do about four at one sitting.  They are very good about reaching in and not peeking, because I show them how I can peek in and know the answer, and it isn't even fun anymore!

I have one student come up and put on a glove before he reaches into the bag.  It is hard to tell the golf ball from the super ball without fingertips to help feel the details of the ball. 
You can also use a sock for this.
We talk about how some things can change how they feel.  The ice cube can go from a freezing cube to water.
Brownie batter is a fun example  because it starts as powder, then is more liquid as you add ingredients, and finally becomes a solid brownie.

We play a game where the children turn to a partner and draw a shape on the partner's back so the partner has to guess the shape.  We tried letters, but shapes work best.  Letters were tricky!

I told them they had to be sure to "erase" after they drew a shape and started a new one. They all loved that part!

We do a quick interactive writing activity listing  soft things like: my chair cushion, Kayla's baby brother's cheek, lamb's wool, a puppy's ear, cotton balls, my soft furry jacket, a pillow.  Then we list rough things. My favorite rough thing was 'the blacktop' because one of my little guys just fell down on it outside! We list a few  hard things, sticky things, and bumpy things (for which of course, someone last year said, "Braille!"- yay!) 

To tie this back to our quest for kindness, we talk about our "Warm Fuzzies" and how they feel soft and fuzzy- and make us feel warm and happy on the inside.  "Cold Pricklies" are not kind and make you feel cold and prickly on the inside. This is a different type of "feeling."  Everyone got a "Warm Fuzzy" to remember to be kind. 

We draw and label our five favorite things to touch, and review with some videos on the Smartboard.


Celebrating The Five Senses

I have lots of Five Senses songs on my Prezi, so we start our celebration listening to some of our favorites.  All week, I play different songs during snack time so we hear them all.  On this last day, we vote on our very favorite.  It's a hard decision!

Next, we play a game the children love.  One child is blindfolded, and sitting in my chair.  Another student says, "Hello."  The blindfolded student tries to decide who speaking using only his sense of hearing.  If he can't decide, he can feel the person to see if the hair is long or short, if there is a pony tail or head band, glasses or no glasses.  If needed, he could use his sense of sight!  Smell and taste didn't really fit the game. (Thank goodness...)

I could not RESIST this blindfold from Target- the fabulous dollar section!  I knew it amused me when I bought it, but then when the kids put it on, we spend the first few minutes laughing at each other, then get on with the game!  I put it on first so they can laugh at me- and see that I laugh about it, too.  For some reason, I don't have a picture of me with it on. Hmmm. 



Next, we study some popcorn using all of our senses.  We talk about popcorn and brainstorm some descriptive words to tell how it looks, sounds, smells, feels, and tastes.  We can compare how it looks, feels, and smells when it is not popped to when it is popped.

This is a fabulous book about getting children to love to write:

One thing I always remember that Marjorie Frank says, is that you have to "romance" your writers.  If you want them to write about something, they need to be immersed in it- touching it, tasting it, studying it, playing with it.   I "romance" the class with some popcorn as we write about it! Ideally, a hot air popper is best- because it is so much better for hearing the popping and smelling the popcorn.

Then, I romance them with some peanut butter.

Everyone gets a picture taken with our celebrity for the cover of their Five Senses Book.

The booklet that I use for my unit with my Prezi at my TPT store has two different covers- one is only the title, a space for a name,  and a blank area, because that is where I put a picture of the child with Mr. Broom.  The other cover has a little five senses picture on it if you would rather use that.  The booklet includes each sense and the information about that sense that I also have on the Prezi, plus a page where the child draws and labels his/her favorite things to go with that sense. 

It also includes the pages I use for our culminating activity when we use our senses to describe popcorn, apples, and peanut butter.

Thank you for sharing the five senses with me (and Mr. Broom!)

Have a wonderful day!




  1. Good gracious, Carolyn!!! This is AMAZING!!! I want you to be my kindergarten teacher! I love how you expanded 5 senses into eye safety, emotions, writing, and soooo much more! I'm going to read this post before I teach 5 senses from now on. LOVE!

    Kindergarten Teacher at the Wheel

    1. Oh thank you, Amanda! You are a sweetheart! :) I'm so glad you found some ideas you liked!

  2. Your 5 Senses ideas are the very best. I used them last year and my kids had a blast! Thank you, sweet Carolyn!


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