Introduction to Observations: Five Senses


For the first science class of second grade, we made observations using all five senses. This lesson was adapted from “Confection Connection” which I found in Teaching Science Process Skills, which has many excellent activities for grades 6-8.

Since I teach science in the morning, I didn’t want to use the candy idea from the original lesson. I chose raspberries for the mystery objects. Before class, I used two different sized cups to hide one raspberry for each student and set them on a side table.

I told the class that I would be coming in every couple of weeks to do science with them. I asked them if they could tell me what a scientist is:

I pointed out that scientists don’t call their mixtures potions anymore, but that hundreds of years ago, sometimes people were afraid when other people discovered new things about the world. What we now call science was often called magic, and the people who were called witches were often people who had discovered new things about our world.

I asked the students to name the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Then after telling them they couldn’t peek and to wait until we told them to start the first step, we handed out the cups and worksheets.

The worksheet had six questions:
1) What do you hear inside of the cup?
2) Close your eyes and open the cup, what do you smell?
3) Close your eyes. Take the object out of the cup. Feel its texture and its shape. Put it back in the cup, close the cup and open your eyes. Draw what you think it looks like.
4) Open the cup. Draw what you see.
5) Place the object in your mouth. Describe what you taste.
6) Which of your five senses would you least like to live without?

Our awesome second grade teacher took my draft of the wroksheet and improved the wording a bit and added cool pictures of an ear, nose, eye, and so forth, next to each question.

It was great fun. It was very hard for the kids just to write their observations and not shout out their discoveries, but it was good for them to try to write down their own ideas. When listening to the object in the cup, a lot of the kids thought it was a grape or a bouncy ball. After feeling it, many mistook it for a strawberry – they had the extra hint of getting red juice on their hands.

At the end, I got them share what words they used to describe their observations. One boy said that the raspberry looked like a brain. I asked how did it look like a brain: was it the same color? the same shape? the same size as a brain? This wrap-up time was also a good time to get the quiet kids to talk. Since they had all written on their worksheet, I knew everyone had a answer. I called on everyone who hadn’t yet raised their hands. It turned out to be a great way to get everyone involved.