This week’s Preschool Steam Lab was centered around the five senses. We began the day with a brief and simple lesson about the five senses. We talked about each sense, what they do, and how it works. Then we played a game of guess the sound and what do you see. The kids really enjoyed listening to sounds and then seeing if they were correct in their guesses or not. We spent a little bit of time talking about how our senses keep us safe, before moving on to our experimentation stations.
We tried to have one station for each sense. The first was the taste station. We used a handout found in this free PDF. The kids then tasted a salty, sweet, sour, and bitter item and decided if they liked the taste or not.
We knew there would be no way to do a taste station without having food. Patrons have to register their children for this program, so leading up to this program we emailed all of our registered families to ask about any food allergies. We did have one child with a gluten intolerance, so we used gluten free pretzels for the salty taste, but had no other allergies reported. Of course, everyone liked eating the different foods, and most kids marked that they liked the taste of them all, even the lemon!
For the smell station, we created a blind smell test. We chose scents that we felt would be recognizable to small children and put them in styrofoam cups. We then covered them with tin foil and poked some holes in the top to smell through. Each cup had a label on the bottom revealing what was inside of it. The things we used for this test were; coffee, tooth paste, vinegar, cinnamon, hand sanitizer, and garlic. I worried that the smells wouldn’t come through the foil strongly enough to be recognized, but this was not a problem. Everyone could easily smell each thing, and guess most of them correctly.
To demonstrate how important our sight is, the vision station had the kids attempt to draw while blindfolded. The sheets we created were double sided, and had the kids draw normally on one side and blindfolded on the other; then they could compare their results. Using washable markers was essential for this experiment, as marker ended up all over the table, and possibly even on skin or clothing.
Our feeling station was a game that required the kids to use their sense of touch to find an object. We had cards with images of various items on them. The kids then stuck their hands through a hole into a box and had to find the item on their card. This was a relatively easy project to put together, and a great way to demonstrate how the sense of touch works.
Finally, we had the hearing station. This was a completely passive station, and turned our to be one of the favorites. We simply laid out a variety of instruments and let the kids play around with how they sounded. Be prepared for LOUD NOISES!
We also had two stations that weren’t directly related to a specific sense. First, we had a coloring and cut and paste worksheet, which we got from the same PDF as the taste worksheet. The kids simply match the body part to the correct sense.
The other station, and the most intensive, was a playdough making station. This played with several of the senses, as throughout the process kids would see a color change, smell the playdough (it is made with kool-aid), and feel the playdough while kneading it into dough. The recipe is below.
To make the process somewhat simpler and also faster, we premixed all the dry ingredients in ziplock bags. We also used a coffee pot for the hot water, which was a huge time saver! We were able to just measure water out straight from the pot, and we never had to worry about it cooling down.
Because the recipe required boiling water, we stressed adult involvement in this process. The initial stirring was generally done by the caregiver, or with assistance from them, which kept any kids from getting burnt by the hot water. Once the mixture was cool enough to touch the kids could knead it into more of a dough, and they all got to take it home!
This was a really fun scientific exploration of the five senses. The projects were simple enough, but still created a lot of enjoyment for the kiddos.