Tag Archives: Senses

Creative with play dough!

Today in the Home Room the children were delighted to make playdough.  They decided to make green and yellow playdough which smelt of “lovely lemons”. The children were very creative using pretty shells, buttons and other materials to decorate their playdough. Adding props to playdough helps to support the children’s learning. They used their imaginations and produced some brilliant creations. Along with being great fun, playing with playdough helps to develop the children’s fine motor skills. It strengthens the muscles in their fingers which they will then use to write. The children find  playdough calming but were very excited to keep their own piece throughout the day and take home with them to play with.


Five senses- taste


Taste buds are sensory organs that are found on your tongue and allow you to experience tastes that are sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury. How exactly do your taste buds work? Well, stick out your tongue and look in the mirror. See all those bumps? Those are called papillae and most of them contain taste buds. Taste buds have very sensitive microscopic hairs called microvilli. Those tiny hairs send messages to the brain about how something tastes, so you know if it’s sweet, sour, bitter, savoury or salty. 

It’s not only our tongues that we use to taste though, we need to give our noses some credit too! Olfactory receptors inside the uppermost part of the nose contain special cells that help you smell and send messages to the brain. Here’s how it works: While you’re chewing, the food releases chemicals that immediately travel up into your nose. These chemicals trigger the olfactory receptors inside the nose. They work together with your taste buds to create the true flavour of that yummy slice of pizza by telling the brain all about it!

Fun fact- 

The average person has about 10,000 taste buds and they are replaced every 2 weeks or so. But as a person ages, some of those taste cells don’t get replaced. An older person may only have 5,000 working taste buds. That’s why certain foods may taste stronger to children than they do to adults.

Related activities-

  • Blind tasting- give your child a variety of foods to taste and ask. How would you describe the taste? Is it sweet? Salty? Bitter? Sour? Savoury? You can put a blindfold on them but a lot of children are uncomfortable with that so they could put their hand over their eyes or simply just close them.  If your child is not keen on trying new foods, try varying a food they are familiar with such as popcorn. Different flavours/toppings could be salty, sweet, cinnamon, paprika, parmesan. 
  • Categorise flavours- write the words sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savoury on five pieces of paper. Ask your child to taste a variety of foods and sort each food into the relevant taste category. Some examples of the various flavour groups are:

Sweet food – sugar, maple syrup, honey, cookies, berries, candy

Salty food – salt, pretzel sticks, crisps, crackers

Sour food – lemon, plain greek yogurt, vinegar, pickles

Bitter food – dark chocolate, olive, kale, broccoli

Savoury food – cheddar cheese, soy sauce, tomato, mushrooms

  • Discover how much our nose affects our sense of taste? Ask your child to taste a variety of foods, first while pinching their nose then without and describe the difference in the flavours. 

And finally, to bring the learning about all the senses together-

Create a chart using the five senses as headings to describe different foods e.g.

Taste- how does it taste? Touch- how does it feel? Sight- how does it look? Sound- how does it sound? Smell- how does it smell?
Crunchy Lumpy White Pop Buttery 
Salty Bumpy Fluffy Crunch Salty
Buttery Funny Round
Yummy! Soft

Remember to share your experiences on our twitter page @cartmillcentre.

Have a nice weekend,

Eilidh x

Five senses- touch


Your sense of touch allows you to discover how the world around you feels. Your skin is packed with millions of sensory nerve receptors of various kinds and each type responds to different sensations. They can tell you if something is hot or cold, dull or sharp, rough or smooth, wet or dry. These receptors transmit what is felt on the skin up to the brain which is then able to interpret what to do with what we feel. For example, when you touch a hot object, the signal will be sent to your brain, and the brain will quickly send a message back to your hand to stop touching the hot object. Although your brain receives messages all the time, it filters out the less important ones. That’s why you are not constantly aware of the clothes against your skin. The most sensitive parts of your skin have the most touch receptors in them. Your fingertips, lips and toes are all very sensitive. 

Fun fact- nerves carry thousands of signals every second from the touch receptors to the sensory area of the brain.

Related activities-

  • Feely bags- choose a variety of items from around the house and put them, one at a time, inside a bag or a box ensuring your child cannot see the object. Ask them to use as many words to describe the object as possible before guessing what it is. Is it soft, hard, rough, smooth, sticky, thin, thick, wet, slimy, dry, big, small, cold, hot, heavy, light etc? For example, a polished rock could be described as: hard, smooth, heavy, cold, and small. 
  • Touch receptors- which parts of your body have the most receptors and are most sensitive? Blind fold your child or ask them to close their eyes then, using a very light touch, tap your child in the following places: forehead, nose, lips, cheek, ear, neck, collarbone, arm, finger tip, palm, back of hand, inside of wrist, stomach, back, leg, top of foot, sole of foot, toes. Ask them to identify the body part as you touch it then at the end ask them to identify where they felt the sensation the strongest and the weakest.
  • Textured playdough- try adding rock salt, rice, lentils, split peas, sawdust or sand to your usual playdough recipe and discuss how it feels while playing.
  • Sensory footpath- create a circle of different sensory items for your child to walk through. I have done this previously by putting large trays on the ground and filling them with sand, soil, water, jelly, rice, spaghetti, grass, beans, gloop etc. Each time the child went round the circuit they had to think of a different word to describe what their feet were feeling. If you don’t have trays you could use large Tupperware tubs, shape some kitchen foil into a tray shape or (to be slightly more environmentally friendly) if you use natural materials just put it straight onto the garden path and hose it off later.
  • Touch and feel book- glue various items such as cotton wool, a nail file, sand etc on to paper then write down as many words as you can think of to describe these objects. You could link this to the feely bag game and ask your child to draw the objects they felt or stick in photos of the objects and write down all the words that were used to describe them. 
  • Drawing on your back- to emphasise that we feel using all of our skin and not just our hands, tape a piece of paper to your child’s back then draw a picture on the paper and ask them to draw the same picture on a piece of paper in front of them just by feeling and copying your movements. Start simple by just drawing a circle, a triangle etc then you can get as creative as like. Swap around and have your child draw on your back. Comparing the two pictures should provide some interesting results and a few laughs!

Remember to share any activities you enjoyed on our twitter page @cartmillcentre

Have fun,

Eilidh x

Five senses- smell

Our sense of smell is a way for our brains to receive information about the world around us. The sensory receptors in the nose pick up information about the smells around us and pass this information along a channel of nerves where it eventually reaches the brain. Our sense of smell can discriminate between thousands of odours and help us determine whether they are strong, faint, pleasurable, foul or dangerous. It is also associated with the sense of taste helping to create the flavours that we taste in food.  This is why nothing seems to taste quite right when you have a bad cold.

Fun fact- Our sense of smell is closely related to a part of our nervous system which is responsible for emotions and memories. This is why certain smells can bring back memories.

Related activities-

  • Smell jars
    • This can be done either blind folded so your child is solely relying on their sense of smell or without so they are also using their sense of sight. 
    • If blind folded- place various food items in jars/cups/on plates. Then ask children- What do you smell? Does the smell remind you of something? Remove the blind fold and see if they still have the same answers. You might, for example, use a mint leaf so your child may think it is like toothpaste but once they can see they will know it is something different. 
    • If not blind folded- same idea as above but try using foods that look similar such as a mint leaf and a basil leaf or coffee and grated chocolate. This way you child can guess first by looking then use their sense of smell to confirm or change their answer. 
    • For each of these activities I would not expect children of this age to know the name of all herbs/spices etc. but they may be able to compare them to items they are familiar with e.g. basil is like pesto pasta. The main point is to understand how we use our senses separately and in conjunction with each other and to use a variety of language to describe the smells. 
  • Scented paints
    • Make your own paint by mixing a 1/2 cup of flour and a 1/2 cup of salt together then add a 1/2 cup of water until you get a smooth paste (you may need a little more water if too thick). Divide the mixture into three zip lock bags and add different scented food flavourings such as peppermint, lemon etc. You could also add colours e.g. yellow food colouring to the lemon scented bag etc. Then mix the scents and colour through the paint. Once thoroughly mixed, cut the corner of the ziplock bag and you have a ready made piping bag to squeeze the paint onto the paper.
    • Use herbal tea bags to create a colourful scented picture. This works best if you can hang the paper on an easel or stick on to a wall (in the garden I would think!)  Stick the tea bags onto a sheet of paper using tape or safety pins then use a spray bottle to get them wet.  Squish the tea bags and watch the colours dripping down the page. The more you squish, the more scent will be released!
  • Scented playdough
    • Basic playdough is made by mixing two cups flour, one cup salt, one cup water and a little oil together. To make scented playdough add flavour to the water before mixing to allow the scent to spread evenly through the playdough. Alternatively try using different flavoured oils such as garlic or rosemary. 
  • Water play
    • Add rosemary/lavender/oranges to the water tray and enjoy the lovely scent while splashing around.

Five senses- sight

Each day this week I will be posting a blog to help your child learn about their five senses. I will give a brief explanation of how the sense works and then give ideas of activities your child can take part in to help their understanding. Please do not feel you have to do all activities, it’s just to give you a bank of ideas and you can choose which ones your child will enjoy. Have fun!!!


How does your sense of sight work?

A fly darts towards your head! Light bounces off the insect and enters your eye’s cornea, a clear covering over your eye. The light passes through your pupil, the black circle in the centre of the iris, to the lens. The lens focuses the light onto your retina – a thin but vital lining on the back of your eye that is as flimsy as a wet tissue. Your retina acts like camera film, capturing the picture of the fly. This image is sent to the brain, which instantly tells you to – duck!

What do we need to see?

  • Eyes
  • Brain
  • Light

Fun fact-

You blink more than 10,000 times a day!!

Related activities-

  • Memory game- ask your child to draw pairs of shapes i.e. two circles, two squares etc. then turn them all over and take turns to find the matching shapes.
  • Spot the difference- if you are feeling creative you could draw two pictures for your child to spot the difference between or alternatively there are online options such as this from CBeebies 
  • I spy- use colours or shapes as an alternative to letters
  • Light and dark activities- emphasise that we need light to see
    • Use sunlight to create shadows with your hands
    • Cut small shapes and stick them on to a torch to create a variety of shadows 
    • Scavenger hunt-use torches to find different objects in a dark room/tent
  • Make your own binoculars- decorate/colour two toilet roll tubes then tie them together with string and go on a bug hunt

  • Make your own magnifying glass- fill a glass jar with water as full as possible to minimise air bubbles, place top on then put on its side and use as a magnifier. Alternatively, cut a circle from the neck of a plastic bottle, such as a coke bottle, so it is the same shape as an oversized contact lens then put a little water in this.

Please share your experiences with us on Twitter @cartmillcentre