Sensational Senses

National Park Ranger Jane shares some activities related to our senses.

During this session we are going to be using our different senses:

  • touch,
  • smell,
  • taste,
  • sight
  • hearing/sound

We will also be thinking about how different species of wildlife – be it plant, mini-beast, bird or animal – use their senses, or rely on others to use theirs, to survive.

For these activities you do need to be outside, if you don’t have a garden or have limited outside space then you can collect the things you need while out and about and then take them home and finish the activities inside.

TOUCH

We will begin our sensational senses journey with touch. If you had to rely on your sense of touch how good would you be?

Equipment needed – A blindfold

If you are lucky enough to have large trees in your garden/local area then you can play Meet at tree. For this you need to work in pairs. One of you is blindfolded while your partner is the guide and leads the person with the blindfold – the guide has to be careful and explain any upcoming hazards to the person with the blindfold. The guide takes the blindfolded person to a tree in the garden/park where you ‘meet’ it. Spend time getting to know your tree:

  • smell it
  • touch the bark – is the bark rough or smooth
  • can you get your arms all the way round the trunk
  • feel right down to the bottom and its roots
  • does it have any branches that you can reach

Once the person who is blindfolded thinks they know their tree the guide carefully leads them away to another part of the garden/park and turns them around a few times. Take the blindfold off and see how long it takes you to find ‘your’ tree. Swap over so you both get to meet a tree.

A forest trail surrounded by trees

If you don’t have any big trees near where you live another activity you can do using your sense of touch is Feely bags.

Equipment Needed – A bags and cards with different textures written on them

A tote bag with word cards reading prickly, rough, smooth, sharp, soft, tickly and sticky

Working in pairs or small groups each person gets a little card with a different texture written on such as prickly/tickly/hard/smooth etc., and a small bag. Don’t tell anyone else what word is on your card.  You then need to go and find things and put them in your bag which represents the word on your card. Once you have 3 or 4 things in your bag ask your partner to put their hand in your bag and feel what is there and see if they can guess what was written on your card.

Earthworms – these underground dwellers are sensitive to vibration and stamping on the ground will often bring them out of their tunnels, why do you think that might be?

Mole – this small animal has very poor eyesight and smell but it does have a good sense of touch and hearing.  They rely on their sensitive whiskers around their nose and tail to find their way around. The short tail is also always held up-right to gauge the size of the tunnel.

SIGHT

It’s now time to use your eyes and see how good you are at spotting things. When asked about what colours you see in the countryside people usually say greens and browns, but look closer and see how many other colours you can find.

A photograph of a selection of colour charts

There are a couple of ways to do this, if you have some paint Colour Charts take one each and see if you can find something to match each of the colours.  If you have some card and double-sided tape then you can collect a small amount of each colour and stick it on your card.  (Try, where possible, to collect things which are already on the ground, and if you are picking things only take a small piece.)

If you don’t have any colour charts, then you can make your own paintbox on a piece of card, choose a colour or colours you want to look for and again stick a small piece of each colour onto your paintbox using double-sided tape.

Paper artists easels

Owls – these bird’s eyes are very sensitive to light, this allows them to see clearly in what would be complete darkness to us.

Daffodil – this plant relies on its bright colours to attract bees, which will come and feed on its nectar and therefore help spread its pollen.

SMELL

Many things in the countryside rely on their sense of smell to find their way around and to find food. It’s now time to use your nose and see how good you are at making Smelly Cocktails.

Twigs and leaves in a paper cup

Take a paper cup or small container of some kind and put a small amount of water in the bottom. Now add natural things to your cup – grass/bark/leaves etc. – and mix them up with your twig to make your own natural smelly cocktail.  Name your cocktail and pass it around the group for the others to smell and see if they can guess what ingredients are in it.  Remember don’t drink your cocktails and empty them out once you are finished.

Hedgehog – these animals have a keen sense of smell which helps them to find food in the tangled vegetation.

Stinkhorn Fungi – this plant attracts flies to lay their eggs on it by smelling of rotting flesh. The fly lands on the gunge, picks up some of it on its feet and flies off again, taking some spores with it.

SOUND

If you had to rely on your sense of sound how would you get on?  For this you are going to create your own Sound Map. Sit down, if there are a few of you spread out so you are not all sitting together, and close your eyes. Sit in silence for a couple of minutes and listen to all the different noises around you.  If you have some scrap paper then you can create your own Sound Map.  Put an X in the middle of the piece of paper, this X represents you.  When you hear a sound draw on your map something to represent that sound, how far away you think it is and which direction it is coming from.  If you don’t have any paper then you count the different sounds on your fingers.

Equipment – paper

A National Park sound map

If there are quite a few of you then you could also play Bat & Moth. Everyone stands round in a circle, someone is chosen to be the bat and is blindfolded and goes into the middle of the circle. Someone is then chosen to be a moth and they join the bat in the circle.  The bat shouts ‘BAT’ and the moth shouts ‘MOTH’ and the bat has to try and catch the moth.  You can add more bats and moths as the game progresses.

Equipment – blind folds

Bats – these night time hunters rely on echolocation to find their food. They make a high pitched sound which we cannot hear; this sound is reflected from any object. The bat hears the reflected sound and so knows where the object is.

Robin – this bird uses its song to signal its presence all year round. This is done to claim either its breeding or feeding territory.

TASTE

There are many things which we could eat from the woodland but there are also lots of things which are poisonous so we won’t be doing any tasting today.  Instead, have a look around and see how many different things you can find which have been eaten or nibbled. Who do you think has been feeding on this?

A photos of leaves and seeds that have been nibbled

Butterfly – these insects have their taste buds on their feet

Ladybird – these insects protect themselves against birds because of a nasty tasting liquid which they ooze when attacked.