Sensational Senses!

This month I got to do a 2nd and 3rd grade program, Sensational Senses. It was originally going to be someone else’s program but they were unable to do it, so it got dropped in my lap. My colleague had partially planned it by making a skeletal plan and I was able to fill in with my own ideas. I think that these programs are sometimes the most fun programs to do. I like being given an outline but able to add my own special flair.

As the title suggests, this was a program about the 5 senses. We covered everything except taste. I think it would have been a lot of fun to include it, but my library has a lot of restrictions with food and I just didn’t want to deal with them for this program. Besides, it was only an hour-long program and I definitely had enough to fill that time.

Smell
This was the most popular sense activity of all. It was called mysterious smells. How this works is you find small containers (Film canisters are ideal but in this digital age they are almost impossible to find! Luckily, one of my colleagues is a teacher who has a stockpile of almost anything you would ever need. She is seriously amazing!) The containers are filled with different smells. I used garlic (they kids unanimously declared this one to be farts! Ha!), chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla extract, mint extract, pencil shavings, a clorox wipe, coffee, eucalyptus oil, and pepper (this one was funny because it made them all sneeze.)

The canisters were set out and they were asked mark whether or not they liked the smell. It was interesting to see what was popular and what was not. Garlic, obviously, was the least favorite. Chocolate was the overall winner and everything else was somewhere in the middle. Then everyone guess what they thought the smells were.

I am glad I started with this activity because it got the kids excited to be at the program and eager to see what was next.

Hearing
I found an idea for hearing that also included film canisters. How it works is you put pairs of items in canisters and have them guess which is the same. I think that would be lots of fun for younger kids but since these were 2nd and 3rd I worried it would be too easy and pandemonium would break out.

Instead, I created a sound mix with some of our sound effects CDs at the library and broke them into teams (boys v. girls) and had the teams guess what each sound was. Some were super easy (pigs, waterfall) and others were very difficult (donkey, footsteps in snow.) It started out with both teams just yelling it out but that got crazy real fast so we changed the rules to one team guessing and the other could steal. I didn’t really keep track of correct answers since that wasn’t really the point. They all seemed OK with that.

Sight
For sight I had a box full of all sorts of crazy items and gave them 30 seconds to commit them to memory. They I handed out paper and pencils and they had to remember what they had seen. I was pleasantly surprised how well most of them remembered. We also talked a bit about optical illusions and I showed them a few famous ones. Another good thing to use would be Magic Eye books. I’ve never been able to see any Magic Eye illusion, so I skipped it.

We also did a few spot the difference pictures. They really enjoyed this! I was very surprised I sort of planned it as a throw away activity but they really had a great time doing this.

Touch
Finally, touch. This activity was sort of take on the “touch gross things” Halloween activity. I created different touch boxes, each with its own item in it and the participants hand to touch and guess what they were touching. Because this was similar to the first activity, it was extremely popular.

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