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See, Hear, Taste, Touch, Smell!

November 30, 2022 | Kristen Jordan

For the past few weeks, the preschool children have been learning about our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.  Learning about our senses is something that is so accessible to the children, and important to their growing awareness of themselves and of their place in the world.

We have been reading books about senses and have been encouraging children to think about and try using many different senses to learn about the world around them.  Several of our discussions have included conversations about how the brain helps us learn information from our senses. 

We gather so much information through our sense of sight but we often do this without even being aware of how much we learn by seeing.   Simply making children aware that they are using their eyes is valuable to their learning process.

Children have been exploring with all of their other senses as well!

We have been closing our eyes and listening to sounds around us and really paying attention to our sense of hearing.  Children have noticed so many sounds: a bird, footsteps, people talking, a bus or truck going by, wheels on a stroller.  Children have even discovered that they can often tell what emotion someone is feeling by the sound they are making! For instance, the children realized that hearing a sigh might indicate that someone is worried, tired, frustrated, mad or sad.  

A favorite game has been one that involves one child closing their eyes while a partner shakes an object to make sounds.   The “listening” child then tries to guess what they are hearing.

We even had a special first grade guest speaker come and tell us many facts that he knows about how the ears and hearing work.  He is writing a book about the senses so he is an expert!

Children haven been using words to describe what things feel like when they use their sense of touch. They have touched objects from nature, play dough, kinetic sand, and water in the sensory table.  They have been using many terrific words to describe how these things feel:  rough, sharp, smooth, hard, pointy, prickly, light, heavy, soft, curvy, round, like teeth, cold like a brain freeze, bendy, spiky, tickle-y, spongy, like a cloud.  

Children have also been exploring clay in the studio and have noticed many things about how it feels. 

Lucia: “It feels sticky.”

Andrew: “It feels slimy.”

Maddox: “It feels so hard in there.” (while poking it)

Adeline: “It feels soft after I roll it.”

When children use descriptive language as they learn, they are building vocabulary, as well as developing listening and conversation skills as they interact with one another.  

We have been thinking about the sense of smell, and noting that some smells are good ones and some are not so good! We even stopped to smell the compost bin at the park (It wasn’t nearly as bad as you’d expect, even with the Thanksgiving overflow). Children learned that they have a better sense of smell than grownups!  

Children learned that they have 10,000 taste buds and we did a big taste test using lemons, grapes and salt to experiment with our sense of taste.  Children were able to sample each and indicate whether they liked it or not. There were lots of reactions and descriptions about the tastes!

Many (most) experiences involve using more than one sense to learn, such as clay.

Elijah: “It looks and smells like dinosaur poop.” 

Isabella: “It’s brown and feels hard.” 

The water in the sensory table also involves the children using touch, sight and hearing to explore.  When they become aware of thinking about how they get information, they become more aware of their own learning process (metacognition).

We have also talked about how our senses are special gifts from God and there is a beautiful song that we have been singing about these gifts:

Song of Blessing

By John Mark Nelson

May God give me eyes to see

All that is good, all that is good.

The courage for anything

May you be strong, may you be strong.

May God give you ears to hear

His loving voice, His loving voice.

Speaking all around you, all around

Speaking all around you

And deep inside.  

We will continue exploring our senses in the coming days and on our walking trip on Friday!

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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