Take a Five Senses Walk by Bet ty A l len
Have you ever tasted a rock? Obviously, you have seen and felt a rock, but it takes the curiosity of a child to taste one. You have probably noticed that a very young child puts everything he can grasp into his or her mouth--the rattle, the blanket, the doll, even the fuz- zy bear or a tiny cookie crumb. The child is giving it the taste test. Eventually, he or she discovers what is edible and what is not. The taste tests are stored as information in the
brain. Older people subconsciously or only briefly resort to that memory bank and remember what each taste is like. Perhaps this could be why we lose some of our sensory awareness as we grow older.
To a baby, each new experience is something to be explored in great detail. He or she is handed a toy and it immediately goes into the mouth; next it is carefully examined with the hands, putting it first in one hand and then the other, turning it over and back. Finally, when he or she has tasted, smelled, looked, and felt it, it is thrown onto the floor. Among other considerations, he or she wants
Betty Allen is active in writing children's music and has had several children "s songs published.
to hear the sound it makes. Great discoveries are made by
those people who have not lost their curiosity about the senses. Their ability to examine things carefully lends i tse l f to c reat ive ideas. Chemical analyses are based on the properties of a substance's taste, smell, color, and form (either solid, liquid, or gas). The study of the pro- perties of chemicals is directly related to the five senses.
By stimulating children to develop and keep alive the five senses you are ensuring a more interesting and sur- prising world for them to discover. A five senses walk can be an exciting way to help children keep that curiosity alive. The idea of the walk is to tune the children in to the five
senses, but only one at a time. By concentrating on one of the senses at a time, you can actually stimulate and develop the awareness and natural curiosity of a child.
A day or two before the planned walk, discuss with the children where they would like to go for a special senses walk. It might be in a park; it might be along the beach, up the mountains, down a country road, or just around your own neighborhood. Talk to the group about the five senses and discuss the parts of the body that enable people to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. In this discus- s ion, you might inc lude some statements to give a child an under- standing of how wonderful it is to ex- per ience these senses, and an
14 0092-4199/82/1600-001452.75 19S2Homa~Sd ..... Pr~s DAYCAREAND EARLY EDUCATION
empathy for those who are blind or deaf. An additional activity some- time later could add emphasis to this idea, such as a blindfold game.
Tak ing the Walk
There are several ways this walk could be organized. Each child could choose which of the five senses he wishes to zero in on for the entire walk, or the group could all zero in on one sense together. Best for a group of younger children is to have all the children directing their atten- tion to the same special sense at the same time.
If you want to make this an ex- tended project, five separate walks could be planned, and many new ac- tivities could stretch this into a month-long study.
If only one walk is planned, divide the distance into five equal parts. For the first section of the walk, have the children all "tune in" to the sense of sight. Try to see as many different things as you can. The next part of the walk could be spent hearing as carefully as possible; then feeling all kinds of textures and temperatures; smelling the different fragrances in the air and, finally, tasting the dif- ferent flavors of foods. Try to stress the kinds of things that are found in the natural environment. Make it a pleasurable experience.
Take along a camera and tape recorder. Record sounds heard on the walk to be used for further iden- tification. The camera can be used when some unusual objects are no- ticed. On each day following the walk, mount one photo in a special p lace so that it wil l be "remembered."
Care should be taken to avoid sug- gestions that would be harmful to the children or the environment. For ex- ample, you would not want to direct their attention to the smell of exhaust fumes or al low them to taste anything that was not safe.
The following examples of what you might experience along the way will give stimulus to creative thought and expression. Let the children ex- press their feelings about the things they see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Some of the statements made by the
children will be highly creative and imaginative.
Take along a notebook if you wish to record some of the remarks made by the children. These can be used in several different ways that will be mentioned later in additional ac- tivities.
Sense o f S ight
Here are some of the things the children might be directed to "see." You may not have to make any suggestions at all as they are likely to suggest things to each other.
Clouds floating in the sky change from one shape to another as you watch them. First, it is a fluffy pillow and then a giant clown or maybe even an elephant. The sun shines brightly down on the trees. It lights up one side more than the other. Our shadows are caused by the sun shin- ing down on us. They move as we walk. The leaves on the trees move when a slight breeze blows. They rus- tle with a fury when a giant gust of wind blows. Why do the houses on the hill look smaller than the ones close to us? The bird is swooping down to pick up a crumb of bread. Pine cones have fallen on the ground underneath the giant pine tree. Look at the layers of tiny petals on the pine cone. Over in the field, butterflies are hover ing over the wild f lower blossoms. Sometimes there are two alike, traveling together. On the dirt path, there are marks made by the tires of a car. As we walk through the path, we make marks in the dirt with our shoes. When we pass a window, we can see our own reflections. We can see a parade of ants. If we watch closely, we might see where they are going.
Sense o f Hear ing
You might hear almost anything if you listen carefully. You can hear the sound of cars as they whiz by, and you can even hear cars that are far away. They make a different sound, but you can tell that they are cars. A truck sound is different, and so is a bus sound. Motorcycles make a loud noise, but you can hardly hear a bike. You can, though, if you listen
carefully enough. The doors on houses open and close, and the doors on cars open and close. You can tell the difference between them because of the sounds. A fire engine certmnly makes a loud sound. It gets louder as it comes closer to where we are. After it goes past, it starts getting softer and softer until you can't even hear it any more. There is a dog barking and a bird singing and someone is speak- ing. Someone's radio is playing very loudly. It is hard to hear anyone else talk.
There is a crunchy sound when we walk through dried leaves. Our shoes make a tapping sound when we walk on a stone path. There is not much sound at all when we walk on the grassnwell, maybe a little. Skate- boards make a lot of noise on the sidewalks. An airplane makes a sound in the sky. We are sugounded by sounds all around us, but some- times we don't even hear them. I wonder why?
(The sounds recorded on a tape re- corder can be used in a game that will be described in additional activities.)
Sense o f F~ng
Touching something with our fingers is not the only way we feel things. We actually can feel all over our bodies. We can tell when it is; hot or cold, and we can definitely tell when something is prickly or sharp. We can feel the shapes of things even with our eyes shut.
Some of the things we feel are soft and smooth, while others are coarse and rough. The pine needles are prickly if you touch them on the tip, but if you touch them in the middle they are smooth and will bend. Run- ning your hand along a brick wall feels bumpy. It is a little rough. Wet grass feels nice and cool. A piece of metal that has been sitting in the sun for a long time feels quite hot. A flower petal is so soft it might not be such a good idea to touch it very hard or it could be crushed. A cat's fur is soft. Your friend's hand feels warm and nice. A handful of dJirt is funny. It moves into d i f fe rent shapes.
WINTER 1982 15
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(An activity called "guessing the object by feeling" will be described in activities.)
Sense of Smell
When you walk past a bakery, you can tell the smell of bread baking. Some smells are a little harder to tell, but if you try you can usually iden- tify them. In just a short distance of wa lk ing, you might smell the fragrance of freshly-mown lawn or a group of pine trees. You can smell someone painting his or her house That's an easy odor to detect. When the wind blows over a patch of flowers, you can smell them if you are "tuned in." An apple tree has a special smell; it is different from the smell of an orange tree. At a housing development, there are a lot o f dif- ferent things to smell. Have you ever smelled that clean fragrance of new wood that is being sawed? Then, there is that sticky smell of tar that is
being poured on the driveway. You can always tell what that is. Now you smell someone cooking dinner. Can you smell the onions and the meat? You can smell quite a few different things at a time and can even tell what some of them are.
Sometimes, when you walk along the beach, you can smell the ocean. You could tell that smell even with a blindfold on.
(A game of smelling objects is described in the activities.)
Sense o f Tas te
It's not good for us to taste some things because they might not be good for our bodies. In fact, some things are even poisonous.
A cold drink of water from a ther- mos or a drinking fountain is always a welcome taste when you are hot and thirsty. When you eat a sand- wich, you are tasting several dif- ferent flavors. If you try really hard,
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16 DAY CARE AND EARLY EDUCATION
you can tell what some of the dif- ferent tastes are. There is mustard on the ham, and butter and salt on the meat. A tomato tastes a little sour, and the bread tastes a little sweet. All that in one mouthful. Our tongues must be very smart to tell us all that.
Experiencing this sense will require a cer ta in amount o f advance preparation. It could be as simple as packing a few apples or oranges to be eaten during this part of the walk, or it could be a picnic lunch planned in the park as the final part of the ex- cursion. Another interesting ap- proach might be to bring along small samples of foods that fit into the four basic taste areas: 1. Salt--soda cracker, salted peanuts. 2. Sour--a pickle, a slice of lemon, a green ap- ple. 3. Bitter--orange peel. 4 Sweet --banana, a cookie.
Add i t iona l Act iv i t ies
When you return from the walk, there are several activities you can either do immediately or spread out over a number of days.
1. The first activity would be to discuss the overall feelings you ex- perienced on the walk. These expressions, along with notes taken during the walk, might be compiled into a booklet of each chi ld's remarks and given as Chr istmas gifts, Mother ' s or Father's Day gifts, or just as a remembrance at the end of the school year.
2. Ask the children to make a draw- ing of how something feels, tastes, smells, or sounds--not just how it looks.
3. Make a collage by pasting leaves, bits of paper, and string found on the walk. You could instruct them to only pick up certain things on the way--small things that can be pasted on colored paper.
4. Write a collective poem or story relating some of the things that happened on the walk.
5. Blindfold some of the children and ask the other children to direct them from one side of the room to the other. They will be using the senses of hearing and feeling, but not the sense of sight. This will
give emphasis to the importance of each of the five senses and will also illustrate the difficulties of the blind.
6. A simple game of charades can show the children how difficult communicat ion is without the sense of hearing. Tell a child secretly to have one of the other children perform a simple task such as walking across the room or sharpening a pencil. The child must then use only visual gestures to convey the message.
7. When the photos have been devel- oped, mount one picture a day on a piece of cardboard. Ask the children if they can remember what the picture shows.
8. The sounds recorded on the tape recorder will not sound the same as they did on the walk. It might be fun to see how many of the sounds can be identified.
9. Prepare a box with a round hole cut large enough for a child's hand out in front. Create a curtain for the hole by pasting a small piece of cloth over it; no one should be able to see inside the box. An ob- ject such as a rock or a pine cone found on the walk can be placed in the box. Ask the children to iden- tify the object by only using the sense of feeling.
10. You can set up a game of smell- ing and/or tasting. Blindfold the children and ask them to identify an object by taste or smell only.