For our penultimate guest post as part of our Five Senses Play Challenge we are joined by Jennifer from The Good Long Road. Jennifer is a mom of two and an independent filmmaker who also teaches filmmaking to youth, notably through her Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, a free film camp for Pediatric Cancer patients. She also writes about her learning and play experiences with her sons at The Good Long Road with a focus on mindfulness, imagination, creativity and kid lit. Today, Jennifer continues our sense of sight week.
Sensory learning and sensory play are essential with my preschool and kindergartner boys (Caterpillar and Wild Thing). They love sensory learning experiences, so when I approached learning activities, loosely, based on the concept of a Letter of the Week, I decided we would explore each letter through all five senses. Five days in a week, five senses. They’ve loved it. We didn’t strictly stick to the schedule, but we are still going strong with the concept and it’s helped me see how wonderful sensory learning can be, which is why I’m so excited to be a part of The Five Senses Play Challenge from Adventures of Adam.
For the Sense of Sight, I decided to highlight our five favorite ways to explore the sense of sight, which are to focus on Color, Shape, Size, Change, and Viewpoint.
Color – Early on with our Letter of the Week journey, we focused quite heavily on colors, largely because Caterpillar was then 2 and I was helping him learn his colors. It also helped that for letter B, our sight sensory activities involved the exploration of the colors blue and brown and that for letter C, our sight sensory activities focused on, literally, C for Colors.
We created a B is for Bear basket with a focus on two of our favorite books, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff.
Then, we created abstract art using brown and blue paint samples. I set the samples out for the boys to cut up, which is great scissor practice for them, and then let them put the samples on contact paper, which I later sealed and displayed on our window as beautiful window art. We call this piece “Adrift.” Can you tell why?
We also created a Letter B using the same technique and circled back to this same concept during Letter P week to make pink and purple P’s.
For a simple “colors” sensory basket, I filled a basket with crayons and milk cap lids of different colors and included one of our favorite colors board books. The boys would match the crayons with the correct color page from the book.
The boys always love going on color scavenger hunts, which are especially wonderful in Spring as green leaves fill the trees again and flowers begin to bloom. On color hunts, stop signs, yield signs and mailboxes and houses also make the hunts extra fun, as well as a camera, if you have one you allow your children to use. Color scavenger hunts are such a fun way to explore the sense of sight.
Shapes – We’ve gone on shape hunts too! A walk through our neighborhood provides lots of shape discoveries: circle wheels/tires, triangle rooftops, octagon stop signs, diamond and rectangle street signs and often much more.
I also provided the boys with a Shape Sensory Tray during Letter S Week with felt shapes, playdough shape toys, shape books, shape flash cards and our shape sorter.
Wild Thing enjoyed taking the felt shapes and putting them together to create rocket ships and other items, and Caterpillar spent a lot of time with the shape sorter. I love using shapes to highlight the sense of sight, especially for my boys who love to build, because it nurtures their ability to see the way shapes are put together in buildings, furniture, homes, etc.
Size – Wild Thing and Caterpillar got very interested in opposites when we did Letter O, and they both have some opposite books they really like. I noticed that they particularly get excited about BIG and little as opposites, so I use that interest to draw out their observational skills and focus on their sense of sight.
We often line up our stuffed animals according to their size from smallest to largest or vice versa and recently, for Letter U, we laid out all of our umbrellas in accordance with their size, and then got out a ruler and measured the umbrellas too.
If you’ve still got snow, maybe it would be fun to create snow balls of different sizes and put them in order. Or, if you don’t have snow (like us), you could collect pinecones and line them up. Wild Thing was very proud of his pinecone display.
Changes – Sensory activities in which children get to see something change or transform visually truly focus in on the child’s sense of sight. Color mixing activities are great for this, and the boys loved each getting to pour out different colors of water and see how their water combined to make a new color when we read little blue and little yellow by Leo Leonni. Melting colored ice cubes is another fun and simple way to see change in action.
But, the boys’ favorite activity in which we observe change is one that we call Magic Milk Painting, in which the combination of milk, dish soap and food coloring makes the colors literally move as detergent in the soap disrupts the protein and fat in the milk and brings the liquids to life. If you’ve never done this simple science experiment, you should. It is so much fun! For Earth Day two years ago, we compared three different types of milk to see if we could use our sense of sight to observe any differences in the ways the colors moved through the milk.
Viewpoint – Of course, what we see also largely depends on what our viewpoint (or vantage point) is. The recent internet uproar of “the dress” (was it white and gold or black and blue?) quite clearly demonstrated that. Exploring how things look differently depending on one’s viewpoint is a really fun sensory experience for kids.
Go to the playground. Have children look at the grass while lying down on the ground. Then, have them look at it while standing. Then, have them look at it from the highest point of any playground structure they can climb on. It will look differently. If you have a magnifying glass, then even better. Maybe they’ll find an ant or bug that they can see while lying on the ground or using their magnifying glass, but that they won’t be able to see when up on top of the playground. Climb a hill or a tree with your child and have fun observing the differences with them.
I love this activity, and I think it is probably my favorite sense of sight activity because I know that, conceptually, I’m also laying the foundations for my children to be empathetic and understanding. People see things differently and understand situations differently and see each other differently based on their viewpoints, their backgrounds, their life circumstance and experience, and it’s important to me for my children to learn this and understand this. Exploring with them the way that their literally viewpoint can change the way something looks is a good place to start.
What are your favorite ways to explore the sense of sight with your children? What sensory adventures are you having this week? How are you joining in with the challenge?
Thank you to Jennifer from The Good Long Road for sharing their sense of sight activities. This guest post is part of our Five Senses Play Challenge, for the sense of sight. Click here for more sight activity inspiration.