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Educational Programs - Kindergarten: Senses in the Spring

Objectives : To teach children how to use their senses (hearing, touch, smell, and sight) to explore and learn about the outdoors.


  • What can we feel?
  • What can we hear?
  • What can we see?
  • What can we smell?
  • What colors are in the woods?
  • What shapes are in the woods?
  • Animals have senses, too.

Key concepts that students should know:

  • Be familiar with the five senses.
  • Know basic colors (red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, brown, black and white).
  • Know some basic shapes and textures (circle, square, flat, round, rough, smooth, hard, soft, prickly and fuzzy).

Five Trail Rules of Conduct:

  1. Walk quietly.
  2. Stay on the trails.
  3. Stay behind the leader and listen carefully.
  4. Do not pick anything connected to the ground.
  5. Do not chew gum because it can hurt animals if they eat it.

Kindergarten Post-Visit Activities

Following your visit to the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve, you may want to try some of the activities listed below.

Sniffing Canisters

Increase your students' awareness of their sense of smell by starting a "Smell Center." Include both familiar and unfamiliar smells in the center. The best way to do this is to use either empty black film canisters with cotton balls or opaque plastic ketchup dispensers. Use extracts, spices, and other household items to give scent to the cotton balls or to fill the dispensers. I have found that the natural extracts work better than the artificial ones. Some scents you might want to use are vanilla, mint, orange, lemon, and almond. You might also try things like oregano, thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, peanut butter, and anise. Other household products to use are dish soap, maple syrup, tea leaves, onion, and vinegar. Ask the students to guess what the smells are. Even if they do not know the names of the scents, they can say what the smell reminds them of.

Using Senses to Explore the School Yard

Scout out various areas of your school yard to determine where a good place for each sense is. Take your students on a tour of the school yard. Tell them which senses to use on each part of your walk. Have them to try to use one sense at a time. To encourage them to isolate each sense, ask the students to close their eyes and hold hands to stay together. For touching, have the students stop and drop hands to touch something near them. You may want to look for a flowering bush or other flowers for the students to smell. Walk through a wooded area to listen for birds and the wind in the branches. Look for interesting bark textures for the touching area. Remind the students why we do not taste in the outdoors. There are some things in nature that are poisonous, so it is important to not taste anything in nature.

Nature Creep

Use hand lenses or small magnifying glasses to look at nature up close. Ask your students to get down on their hands and knees to see the world from an ant's perspective. Dig a little spot in the ground to look for earthworms, insects, and other neat things. Try to see how many things you can find in one small area.