HomeJean Marzollo, author of I SPY

The New Kindergarten

Chapter Four

Theme: The Child and the Five Senses


the sense of smell   the sense of taste   the sense of hearing   the sense of sight

the sense of touch

A good month in which to explore the theme of the child and the five senses is September or the first month of the school year. The goal of the unit is to instill children with a sense of identity and self-worth. Because it is the beginning of the school year, a secondary goal is to help the child acclimate to classmates and school activities. The topic of the five senses provides opportunities to talk about one's self and all that one can experience in the immediate environment: shapes, colors, and basic school equipment such as paints, puzzles, puppets, and blocks.

The theme can be revisited in June or the last month of the school year as a way of recording children's growth and progress. Many of the projects can then be repeated and compared with those saved from the beginning of the year.

Language Arts: Oral Language

Reciting chants together provides children with opportunity to practice verbal skills, experience rhythm, and feel the satisfaction of saying rhymes in unison. Use chants at various times of day to promote a feeling of group togetherness. Pass-along chants can be
changed by the children as they are passed along in a circle.

Skooby Doo Names Chant

Today is __ . (day of week)
Skooby doo.
I am. (child's name)
Who are you?

Pass this chant around a circle having each child say a verse. Clap while you say the chant, stopping to hear the individual names.

Fiddle-I-Fo Choosing Chant

Fiddle-I-Fo, Fiddle-I-Fee,
___ is (are) what I choose for me.

Use this chant when you want children to select jobs, games, or activities; or use it in games to have them select
colors, shapes, or toys they like. Choices can be graphed in a follow-up math activity.

Language Arts: Listening

Rhyming Game

This game can instigate an ongoing project set up in the listening center. The idea is to collect real things or small models of things that rhyme. Children and their parents can contribute to the game at any time. (Parents can have fun with this.) Store the collection in a special box labeled RHYMING GAME. (Perhaps you can decorate it with rhyming pictures.) To play the game, children sort objects into rhyming pairs. Plastic charms and tiny miniatures make great rhyming objects.

Language Arts: Writing

Class Scrapbook

Ask the children to draw self-portraits. Put the self-portraits in a scrapbook on the right-hand pages. On the left hand pages write, or let the children write, their names. "Read" the class scrapbook together from time to time. Store it with other classroom books for the children to look at when they want.

At the end of the year, make another class scrapbook. Compare portraits, noting how they are similar and how they are different. Share the beginning-of-the-year and end-of-the-year portraits with parents so they can see how their children have grown and changed.

Language Arts: Reading

Make your classroom an environment in which letters and words play an important, comfortable part. Here are some ways to do this:

Have a big alphabet chart on the wall where children see it easily.

Put cuddly alphabet pillows in the reading center. Perhaps parents could volunteer to make them.

Label important classroom objects. Let the children see you doing this.

Put alphabet toys that are fun to play with in the game center and the reading center.

Have plenty of books accessible for the children to look at. Read picture books often to the children.

Have an experience chart handy for recording children's words so you can read them back to them after-

Social Studies

Photo Puppets and Puppet Theater

Take a close-up photograph of each child's face. Help the children paste the photographs on tongue depressors to make puppets. When the photos are dry, help the children strengthen the connection between the photo and the stick with tape. Write the name of each child in marker on the stick.

Store the photo puppets in a convenient place so that the children can use them for dramatic play. You may find that they come in handy to solve social problems in the classroom. For example, if two children are fighting, you can have their puppets talk to each other about the problem. Let children give ideas for what the puppets could say to each other.

Make a puppet theater from a washing machine box. Cut the doors and windows out with a serrated knife or saw. Only the teacher should do this, but the children can watch and later paint the theater.

Eye Doctors and Ear Doctors

CONCEPT: Nurses and doctors can test our eyes and ears. If we need to, we can get glasses and hearing aids to help us see and hear better. Eye doctors and ear doctors specialize in eyes and ears.

Invite the nurse or whoever tests children's eyes and ears to class to explain the kinds of tests she or he uses. Use the experience to help the children develop vocabulary words for describing sounds: high/low, loud/soft. Show them an eye chart so that they will know what the eye test is like. Explain that eye and ear tests can be fun to take. Encourage the children to ask questions about the nurse's or doctor's job. Afterward, write a class thank-you letter to the visitor.


Sense of Taste

What words do we have to describe tastes? Sweet, sour, salty. Give the children different foods to taste: salted crackers and potato chips (for salty), grapes and raisins (for sweet), lemon slices and sour pickles (for sour).
Taste different kinds of apples.

Which apples are sweet? Which apples are sour?

What foods taste good with apples? (Try cheese slices on apple slices, cottage cheese and chopped apples, yogurt and chopped apples.) Record the favorite combinations on an experience chart.

Sense of Hearing

Ask each child for "homework" to bring in something that makes a noise. (It can be as elaborate as a toy musical instrument or as simple as a rattle made by putting pebbles in an empty, clean margarine tub.) Ask them to keep their noisemakers a surprise by bringing them inside a bag or their lunch boxes. One by one, ask the children to share their noisemakers with the class in a way that the noisemaker cannot be seen. Ask the other children to guess what the noisemaker is.

Sense of Smell

Have the children take turns wearing blindfolds or closing their eyes tightly while you or other children give them interesting things to identify by smell. Try bananas, lemon, oranges, a candy cane, and coconut.

Sense of Sight and Sense of Touch

A sand and water play table gives children the opportunity to learn firsthand about the senses of sight and touch, as well as the opportunity to use these senses to develop critical thinking abilities and familiarity with the scientific process. Over and over, as children play at the sand and water table, they make predictions, carry out experiments, and discover results. Help them record their results on worksheets designed to suit their sand and water play activities.


Sorting, Counting, and Graphing Ourselves

CONCEPT: People have different color eyes. We can sort ourselves into groups based on eye color.

Have the children sort themselves into groups based on eye color. Then let each group pick the color construction paper that matches their eyes and cut out eyes from it. If they like, they can trace eye patterns and afterward color their eyes with crayons or markers.

To record the groups, have the children paste their eyes on a graph, starting at the bottom and building up. Explain that a graph is a picture of "how many." Count how many there are of each eye color. Compare the amounts in the various groups. Ask "Which eye color do we have the most of? Fewest of?" As you work on the graph, help the children develop vocabulary: more, most, least, fewest, some, none, and so forth.

Make other graphs that tell about the children in the class, such as graphs that show hair color, shoe color, and how children come to school.

Measuring Ourselves

Trace the children on butcher paper, and have them color their self-portraits. Give them one-foot-long show patterns to trace and paste next to their portraits to measure how many feel tall they are.


measuring ourselves   number charts


Number Charts

Give each child a piece of experience chart paper. Write, or have each child write, numbers 1 to 10 going down the left-hand side. Give the children small objects to paste next to each number. Ask to check their amounts before they paste them down.


Shapes and Colors Treasure Hunt

Give the children oaktag patterns of circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles to trace and cut out of colored paper. Help them identify and discuss the shapes and colors as they work. Put the cutout shapes in a shopping bag and call it The Treasure Hunt Bag. Ask each child to pick three shapes from the bag and then try to find three things in the classroom to match the shapes. For example, a child with a red circle, blue triangle, and green rectangle might find a red ball, a blue sail, and a green book. Have the children share their treasures with each other, then put them back. Afterward, have them draw or paint pictures of treasures they found or treasures they would like to find. The paintings do not have to be of particular shapes or colors. Let the children feel free to paint whatever they like.

Play Dough Shape Pictures and Color Mixing

Help the children make play dough by mixing 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup salt, 1 tablespoon salad oil, and 1/2 cup water. If the dough is too sticky, add flour or salt. If it is too dry, add water. Knead well. Give each child a ball to play with.

TO MAKE PLAY DOUGH SHAPE PICTURES: Roll out or press the play dough flat with your hand. Imprint it with shapes found in the classroom to make a shaped design. Try making a pattern from the shapes. See if a friend can copy your pattern.

TO MIX COLORS: Divide your play dough ball into three smaller balls. Add red food coloring to one, blue food coloring to another, and yellow food coloring to the third. Knead the balls separately to mix the color into the ball. Then try different color mixing experiments. Ask "What happens if you mix a piece of yellow play dough with a piece of red play dough? What color do you get?" Have the children record their answers with crayons on paper. Teach them the meaning of the symbols + ("and") and = ("make") so they can read their results back afterward.


Body Parts Songs

Review body parts by singing songs about them. Touch or shake the body parts as you name them, turning the songs into exercise songs, if you like.

This Old Man

This old man, he played one,
He played knick knack on his thumb, With a knick knack paddy whack, Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.
Two shoe,
Three knee,
Four floor,
Five side,
Six hips,
Seven up to heaven,
Eight on his pate, *
Nine on his spine,
Ten once again.
*Top of head.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

(to the tune of "There Is a Tavern in the Town"
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,
Knees and toes.
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, Knees and toes-s and-
Eyes and ears
And mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, Knees and toes.

Five Senses Song

Where Is Round Shape?

(Played similarly to "Where Is Thumbkin" and sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

Have the children sit in a circle with different shapes held in their hands behind them. Sing the song, calling out different shapes for them to identify with their hands and show as they sing the lines, "Here I am. Here I am."


Give the children different textures or objects to feel and identify.
Where is round shape?
Where is round shape?
Here I am.
Here I am.
How are you today, sir? (ma'am?) Very fine and thank you.
Run away.
Run away.

Physical Education

Listening Game

Everyone sits in a big circle. In the middle of the circle sits IT on a chair. Under the chair is an object such as a toy car or a block. IT is blindfolded or has eyes closed tightly. The teacher points to one person in the circle. That person creeps toward the chair, occasionally making a tiny, quiet noise like beep, beep. IT listens and tries to tag the beeper/creeper-without moving off the chair. If IT tags the person, that person becomes the next IT. If the beeper/creeper can grab the object under the chair and go back to the circle without being tagged, he or she appoints the next beeper/creeper, and IT remains on the chair.

Simon Says

At first, the teacher is Simon and faces the children, who stand spread out in a roomy space indoors or out. Each child should be able to swing his or her arms around without hitting another child, and each child should be able to see Simon well. Simon gives commands for the children to follow, such as "Simon says, 'Swing your arms in the air,' " or "Simon says, 'Kick your feet.' " The children are to obey only those commands that begin with the words "Simon says." If the command does not begin with these words (for example, "Stamp your feet"), the players should ignore it. Play the game noncompetitively. Each time a child makes a mistake, enjoy a good laugh together with the child, but do not send the child out of the game.




Based on the book THE NEW KINDERGARTEN: Full Day, Child Centered, Academic
A book for teachers, administrators, practice teachers, teacher's aides, and parents
Text © Jean Marzollo, Illustrations © Irene Trivas

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