Monday, October 20, 2014

Preschool Science: The Five Senses

I was on maternity leave all summer, so I missed our lovely science themed summer reading program. I was feeling a bit bummed about that, but why be bummed when you can be awesome? (thanks to Barney Stinson for the paraphrase). I decided to make STEAM programs part of the fall roster. Inspired by all the STEAM programming I see online and the ideas in the summer reading manual, I've decided to do a weekly preschool science program.

This week: The Five Senses.

We started off talking about the five senses and which body parts we use for each.

Then I read Rain by Manya Stojic, where different animals use their senses to foretell the coming rain.

I have a felt board set that I made for "Seven Blind Mice and the Elephant" so I retold that story, emphasizing the mice using their senses to guess what the elephant was. The kids were really into the story and were super excited to see the elephant appear.

After that, I gave a brief introduction to the stations and set the kids and their parents loose to explore.

The stations:

Smell: A coworker donated some empty gelato containers and I put three cotton balls in each and doused them in extracts from the grocery store. I found: raspberry, banana, coffee, orange, peppermint, vanilla, and coconut. The goal: identify the smells by opening the containers and giving them a whiff.

I made the set the day before and this morning the smells were strong and identifiable. Fair warning, though, the banana one was horrible. If you knew it was banana, you could maybe figure it out, but it smelled like synthetic banana and made everyone wrinkle their nose.

Touch: I put a variety of objects (a stuffed animal, a rubber duck, some seashells, etc.) in wipes containers and challenged the children to identify each object by feel alone. The wipes boxes were great for this because they have a small rubber section that the kids can stick their hands through without having to open the box.

Touch: Crayon rubbings. I used leaves, of course, and also cut out a set of alphabet letters which showed up really well. I encouraged the kids to cut out their rubbings, glue them to index cards and make "books" using shower rings. The hope is to continue to have a this station (with a different theme, of course) each week so the kids can add new and different pages to their books.

Taste: I found three bottles of juice that were shaped exactly alike and *bonus!* three juices that looked pretty much the same. I put the flavors on the instruction sign and the challenge was to figure out which juice was which by taste alone. This was a favorite station; one of the boys said "Can we have juice next week?" I have leftovers, so maybe...

Sound: Each of these cans had a partner: two of them had popsicle sticks, two had buttons, two had sand, two hand pom poms, etc. The challenge was to find the pairs by the sound alone. I also threw in a wild card: a jar without a partner. This jar had stickers in it, and once you found it you could take a sticker. 

This was my personal favorite station, but it turned out to be a bit too hard for my preschoolers. They were good sports, but it was definitely very difficult (there was a lot of flipping the cans over to read what was in each one). 

Sight: I put several objects in empty bottles and filled the extra space with rice. The challenge was to find specific objects in the rice. This one was ok - one of the boys loved the noise that the bottles made when he shook them so he spent most of his time doing that.

Thanks to Abby the Librarian and Story Time Katie for the great ideas!

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