Updated: May 26, 2021
A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum
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A Sensory Delight
As adults we take for granted how the senses work together and independently to inform our lives. This unit helped me to slow down and notice the things we see, hear, taste, touch and smell as I pointed them out to my toddler. I especially enjoyed taking a listening walk and then talking with my son about what we heard.
Building Background Knowledge
I departed from the curriculum a little to reorganize some of the activities. Remembering how we focused on one color per day in Unit 2: Colors to make it an immersive experience, I chose to focus on one of the five senses every two days. I started with a non-fiction book to introduce each sense the first day and then read the suggested books on the second day. I did any activities that went along with that sense during those two days. This worked really well for us, but do whatever makes sense for you. Also, the songs linked below were a fun way to review all five senses.
*Books with an asterisk are my Top 5 Picks to Add to Your Home Library for this unit
My 5 Senses* - Aliki
Look, Listen, Taste, Touch and Smell - Nettleton, Pamela Hill
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! - Marsalis, Wynton
The Listening Walk* - Showers, Paul
I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!)* - Isadora, Rachel
Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings - Fleet, Matthew Van
Additional Book List
Books in bold are also the suggested books in another unit.
The 5 Senses - Roca, Nuria
You Can't Smell a Flower with Your Ear - Cole, Joanna
Me and My Senses - Sweeney, Joan
I Wonder Why Lemons Taste Sour and Other Questions About Senses - Chancellor, Deborah
You Can't Taste a Pickle with Your Ear - Ziefert, Harriet
The Eye Book - LeSeig, Theo (Dr. Seuss)
The Nose Book- LeSeig, Theo (Dr. Seuss)
Smell - Ruis, Maria
Touch - Ruis, Maria
Taste - Ruis, Maria
The Sense of Taste - Schuh, Mari C.
The Sense of Touch - Schuh, Mari C.
The Sense of Smell - Schuh, Mari C.
The Sense of Sight - Schuh, Mari C.
The Sense of Hearing - Schuh, Mari C.
Sounds All Around - Pfeffer, Wendy
Look! A Book about Sight - Rau, Dana Meache
Pat the Bunny - Kunhardt, Dorothy
F is for Farm - Priddy, Roger
See, Touch, Feel ABC - Priddy, Roger
Llama Llama Sand and Sun: A Touch and Feel Book - Dewdney, Anna
Never Touch a Shark - Greening, Rosie
The Blind Men and the Elephant - Backstein, Karen
I Feel a Foot - Rinck, Maranke
Seven Blind Mice - Young, Ed
Thank you, Omu! - Oge, Mora --> A beautiful book about sharing (diverse characters)
Llama Llama Yum Yum Yum!: A Scratch-and-Sniff Book - Dewdney, Anna
Big Smelly Bear - Teckentrup, Britta
Gladys Goes Out to Lunch - Anderson, Derek
Farley Follows His Nose - Lynn Johnston
The Seven Silly Eaters* - Hoberman, Mary Ann
Gregory, the Terrible Eater - Sharmat, Mitchell
Mmm, Cookies! - Munsch, Robert
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! - Willems, Mo
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? - Willems, Mo
If You Give a Pig a Pancake - Numeroff, Laura
Say Zoop! - Tullet, Herve --> An interactive book from the author of "Press Here"
Too Much Noise* - McGovern, Ann
Fire Engine No. 9 - Austin, Mike
Can I Just Take a Nap? - Rauss, Ron
Dog's Noisy Day - Dodd, Emma
Bunny's Noisy Book - Brown, Margaret Wise
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? - Dr. Seuss
Can You Hear It? - Lach, William
The Very Quiet Cricket - Carle, Eric
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? - Carle, Eric
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?- Carle, Eric
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? - Carle, Eric
It Looked Like Spilt Milk* - Shaw, Charles
Duck! Rabbit! - Rosenthal, Amy Krouse --> Which Do YOU See?
They All Saw All Cat - Wenzel, Brendan --> Caldecott Medal winner about perception
Arlo Needs Glasses - Saltzberg, Barney
Douglas, You Need Glasses - Adamson, Ged
I Can Read with My Eyes Shut - Dr. Seuss
Where's Mickey? A Look and Find Activity Book - Drage, Emma
The Absence of...
One way to better understand each of the five senses is to experience what it would be like if you took it away.
For the sense of sight, have your child wear a blindfold or sleep mask and experience what life would be like without their sense of sight. Have them complete an ordinary task like making peanut butter and jelly without looking. Talk about how the sense of touch helps to make up for their loss of sight.
For the sense of touch, go into their room or playroom and turn off all the lights (you probably want to do a sweep for anything they could trip on or bump into first). Ask them to feel around to find you a specific object or try to identify objects only using their sense of touch.
For the sense of hearing, have your child wear a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Try making difference sounds like playing the drums, banging pots and pans, playing music, talking and stomping on the floor. Ask them to notice what it would be like if they couldn't hear anything (the dangers of a busy street, no music to enjoy, the need for sign language to communicate).
For the sense of taste and smell, talk about how smell informs our sense of taste and tells us if food is bad (sour milk). Then have them taste different foods while holding their nose. How does the taste differ without the sense of smell? Then have them smell foods without eating them. Which ones can they almost "taste" just by smelling them?
Smell: ask them to identify the flavor of each Do A Dot Art Fruit Scented Washable Dot Markers or Mr. Sketch Scented Markers. The colors will be helpful hints, but use a blindfold for an extra challenge!
Sight: Using a Magnifying Glass With Shatterproof Lens, ask children to use their sense of sight to examine items in more detail. From dragonfly wings to fingerprints, there is so much to see in detail in you look closely.
Hearing: Listen to different genres of music. Talk about what instruments you hear and let children talk about what they like or how it makes them feel (i.e. calm, happy, like they want to dance).
Touch: Utilize a variety materials in sensory bin throughout the unit. You can put most of them them in a ziploc bag and save them for later: oobleck, dirt, sand, mud, cotton balls, shaving cream, water, and "snow" (made from equal parts shaving cream and baking soda, and stir).
Taste: Include food-based and taste-safe items in your sensory bin: flour, oatmeal, Jell-o, pudding, pasta, graham cracker crumbs, crushed Saltines, chocolate syrup, applesauce, rice, whipped topping (extra fun to squirt from a can).
Developing life skills: help develop awareness and empathy for people who are blind or deaf. Talk about Braille lettering and find it in real life (in an elevator, for example). Learn some signs in sign language and practice using it together (the library usually has a kit you can check out). When using the crosswalk, notice how it makes different chirping sounds to tell the visually impaired it is safe/not safe to cross. Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You is a celebration of kids with different abilities.
It really helped my son to review the names of the five senses daily. It's one thing to know your eyes help you see, but it's another to know that this sense has a name (sight) so the videos were a great day to start off the day's lesson. Afterward, I would say, "Today we are going to learn about the sense of..."
What was your favorite part of this unit? What other books did you read? What other activities did you do? Please share your photos and feedback in the Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler Curriculum Facebook Group in Guides→ Five Senses
Until next time, may your coffee be warm and your toddler be busy!
Up Next: Playing Preschool: Unit 7 - Teddy Bears
See Also: Introduction to Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler, A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum, Unit 1: Apples, Unit 2: Colors, Unit 3: Nursery Rhymes, Unit 4: Clothing, Unit 5: Food