How to Create At-Home Sensory Stations

Learning With Senses

Discovery Place

Ever wonder how your ears actually work or why your sense of smell is important? Explore everyday items using your five senses to experience them in ways you never have before!

Five senses illustration

When your senses are out of focus, it’s important to turn to the experts who can help you out. And who is better than our local partner, Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A, who offers eye exams, hearing tests, allergy care and more to patients young and old.

In this activity, young learners will gain an understanding of the five major senses and how they enrich our daily lives. This is a fun and easy at-home activity using items from around the house to create an interactive learning experience for both caretakers and learners.

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Learning Time: 30-60 minutes
Age Range: Early learners – middle schoolers

Materials List:

  • Explore More sheet, attached below (1 per learner)
  • Senses Fast Fact cards, attached below (1 set)
  • Pencil or writing utensil (1 per learner)
  • Three to five sensory items at each station – ideas are listed below:

Hearing

  • Lyrics to a song to sing together
  • A speaker/laptop playing music
  • Singing/musical toys
  • Musical instruments to play (pots and pans with a wooden spoon work just as well!)
  • A list of different sounds the learner can make (claps, snaps, mouth pops, whistles, etc.)

Sight

  • Primary colors of paint on a mixing tray
  • Rainbow/sparkly items
  • Optical illusions
  • Favorite picture book
  • Video on a tablet/laptop


Smell

  • Candles/dryer sheets
  • Foods like popcorn, fresh cookies or sliced fruit
  • Flowers (or go outside for some new smells)
  • Scented markers
  • Oils (peppermint, vanilla, etc.) or other strong-smelling liquids like vinegar

The smell station works particularly well with a specific scent the child is familiar with (like a favorite blanket or a family member’s perfume/cologne).

Taste

  • Sweet candy, fruit
  • Salty pretzels, potato chips
  • Sour candy, lemons/limes, green apples
  • Bitter kale/arugula, pickles/olives
  • Umami (savory/earthy) mushrooms, meats, soy/tofu


Touch

  • Bowl of shaving cream or oobleck slime if you’re not afraid to get a bit messy! (Bowl with uncooked grains of rice/pasta is a bit easier to clean.)
  • Emory boards/sandpaper
  • Playdough/slime
  • Fuzzy plushie/blanket
  • Wool sweater, silk shirt, and other fabrics like velvet
Child with slime

Directions:

  1. Print 1 copy of the Explore More sheet for each learner.
  2. Print 1 copy of the Fast Fact cards and cut them out.
  3. Set out items at each station from the materials list (whatever you have available at home). An easy way to do this at one table is by placing all the items for one station on top of a placemat, then placing items for a different station on a separate placemat, and so on. Each station should have a few sensory items and the matching Fast Facts card.
  4. Give each learner an Explore More sheet and a pencil.
  5. Explain what they will be doing with the stations:
    1. “You’re going to get to explore the items at each one of these stations.”
    2. “We will read the card to learn about the sense, and then we will try using that sense.”
    3. “Before we wrap up, we will talk about the Explore More question for that station, and I’ll give you time to write (or draw!) your answer.”
    4. “After we finish at one station, we will move to the next one.”

  6. Help the learners navigate each station and make connections between the facts on the cards and what they are experiencing while they experiment with the items at the station.
  7. Once all the stations have been visited, see if learners can answer the bonus question on their Explore More sheet. Then, have learners help return the items to their proper locations in the house, clean up any messy activities and wipe down the surfaces that were used.
Child with candy

Activity Extensions:

  • For younger learners, give them a small food item to eat and ask if they can describe it using all five of their senses.
  • For older learners, try having them make connections between the senses (how are different senses related to one another?) or give them more complex sensory tasks at the stations. For example, have them close their eyes at the touch station and feel each item to guess what it is.
  • Possible discussion questions:
    • Can you guess what something will feel like before you touch it just by using your eyes?
    • Can you guess what something will taste like by smelling it?
    • What’s one activity you enjoy that uses at least four of your senses at once?
    • What words can you use to describe what your senses are telling you? How specific can you get in describing the sensation?
  • There are also more than just these five major senses! Have learners look up and practice/experience some of the other senses.

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