PreK3 Class at Corbett Prep Learns
to Make Sense of their Senses
Everyday items turn into moments of discovery in the pre-kindergarten lesson plan “Sensational Senses.”
Sept. 23, 2013 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Smelling garlic and basil on pizza. Hearing popcorn pop and tasting buttery kernels. Seeing a toy in the daylight and feeling its shape in the dark PreK3 turned everyday items into lessons in discovery during their “Sensational Senses” unit this month at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS. Experiments they conducted helped them understand how sight, sound, smell, taste and touch work together and separately. These observations not only increase the students’ understanding of themselves but also give them tools to interpret the world.
Teachers encouraged students to learn by asking questions and pointed out what their different senses could tell them about objects they encountered.
Looking at shadows let students zero in on details that required sight only. “Can you hear a shadow? Can you smell a shadow? Can you touch a shadow?” teacher Aimee Popalis asked. “A shadow is something we sense with our eyes and our eyes only.”
These creative teachers set up a large white curtain between the two “Flower Patch” classrooms. A light stood on one side of the curtain, and students gathered on the other side. The curtain looked blank when the light was off. Once teachers flipped it on, shapes emerged as shadows.
The students took turns walking in groups behind the curtain and letting classmates guess who was who. Teacher Lori Seise then held up a stapler, a lunchbox, a watering can and other items to see if the children could identify them. Without their sense of smell, hearing, taste or touch, they had to use sight to spot clues to reveal who or what was casting the shadow. The experience also inspired questions and discussions among the class about transparency, opacity, reflections and more ways light, sight and materials interact.
Students also learned there are times they needed more than their sense of sight. A toy car, for example, may look colorful in the light and disappears into blackness in the dark. The way it feels suddenly becomes more important when it cannot be seen.
In other parts of the pre-kindergarten lesson plan “Sensational Senses,” multiple senses worked together to reveal information. Students discovered that the sounds they hear are created by vibrations that, in some cases, they can see and feel.
Kindergarten teaching assistant John McColley visited the classroom with his harp and showed students how the longer strings make lower notes and the shorter strings produce a higher pitch. Students watched as the strings vibrated with the tones and placed their hands on the ground to feel the low notes rumble through the floor.
Grains of rice on top of a drum gave a visual example of sound vibrations as well. A light tap on the drum caused the rice to tremble slightly. A harder hit and louder sound sent rice leaping off the surface.
Lessons on the senses wouldn’t be complete without taste, and popcorn and pizza filled the need nicely. Students listened to popcorn pop, smelled its scent, felt kernels on their tongues and tasted various flavors of butter and kettle corn. Bagel pizzas offered the chance to sniff basil, garlic, pizza sauce and bread baking before tasting the final product.
Experiencing the senses unit with all their senses sparked students’ curiosity and gave them opportunities to analyze information and draw their own conclusions during their experiments. The next time they see a shadow or taste a treat, they will have a broader understanding of what they are encountering and why.