The Five Senses - Lesson 4: Touch
BIG IDEAS: The sense of touch helps us learn about our world by feeling it and
learning the size, texture and shape of things.
On this page
- Encountering the Idea
- Exploring the Idea
- Getting the Idea
- Applying the Idea
- Closure and Assessment
Whole Group Activities
- Book: Touch by M. Rius, J. M. Parramón and J. J. Puig.
- Paper and pencil for each student; fingerpaints; four or five boxes, each
having different-textured materials; paper towels
- One-inch squares of sand paper, cotton cloth, plastic, wool cloth, silk,
orange peel, hand lotion (greasy), tape (sticky), piece of adhesive tape with dirt stuck
on it (grainy); other things of different textures
- Three pans of water; one is at room temperature, one is cold, and the other
is fairly warm, the differences being sufficient for the students to sense them. In
one of the pans put some sand, in another small pebbles and in another some other
objects they can feel; it doesn't matter which material goes into which pan.
- Word tags: smooth, soft, hard, grainy, rough, skin, etc
Ask the students what part of the body they use to see. Eyes. To hear? Ears.
Taste? Tongue. Feel? All over the body? Does your hair "feel" it when you cut it?
What about your fingernails? Why doesn't it hurt when you cut your fingernails?
You feel with your skin. Only the skin? If you break a bone does the bone hurt
inside? Can you feel under your skin? Yes, your sense of feeling is everywhere in
your body. We will discover a lot of the answers to these questions as we perform
After this discussion, begin the lesson by going on an outing. Students go out
into the playground and take several sheets of paper and a pencil. Students
select things to trace on paper, e.g., brick wall, sidewalk, leaf, penny, etc.
When the students return to the classroom, they describe the textures using
appropriate adjectives and write about the textures in their journals.What did
you trace on this paper? (A wall.) How do you know this is a leaf? Is it rough,
At the Science Center, the students work on these activities:
- Each child removes a shoe and sock and feels the inside of several
"feeling" boxes with a bare foot. The students describe what they feel.
- The students put their hands in a pan of cold water and describe how it
feels. Then they put their hands in a pan of water at room temperature and describe how
it feels. Then they put their hands in a pan of warm water (make sure it is not
too hot) and again they describe what they feel. Can they feel the water
temperature and the texture at the same time?
- Ask students to put a bare foot into the pan with water at room temperature
and ask them what they feel. Again, can they feel that they are touching something
wet and something rough at the same time? Ask the students, if they were
to put their bare foot into the cold water would it feel colder than if
they touched it with their hands? Why do they think that cold (or warm) feels
colder (or hotter) on the soles of the feet than on the hands? Do they like to
walk bare foot on grass? rough stones? Why? Why not?
- Place several objects of various sizes and shapes in a bag. Ask a child to
reach into the bag to find an object and to identify it using only the sense of
touch. The child shows the object, then asks another child to find a bigger or
smaller object than the first. Can they feel several things on the same
- Read the book Touch by M. Rius, J.M. Parramon and J.J. Puig to the
class. Discuss the main idea of the book. Tell students that they will
investigate more about the sense of touch in several activities. The first
activity involves going outside to discover more about the sense of touch.
At the Mathematics Center:
- The students graph the class's favorite texture. Discuss which is favorite,
least favorite, etc. Students graph the class "Touch" preference and discuss
during the Getting the Idea phase.
- The students working in pairs take turns giving each other beans to count.
One student is blindfolded and puts hands over his/her ears. The partner gives the
student the beans, again in patterns, for example: 1 + 1 + 2 = 4, but is very
careful not to make noise that would give away the number of beans he/she has.
The students count the beans using only the sense of touch.
- Students make patterns by using rough, smooth, bumpy textures, for example,
rough, rough, soft, sticky, rough, rough, soft, sticky, etc. They describe their
patterns verbally and draw in journals.
- Students order by size the various objects they selected from the bag
during the whole group activity, from largest to smallest and then smallest to largest.
- The students sort the objects by shape into categories, or if the objects
are not geometric shapes, then students sort in any way they wish - function, color,
At the Writing Center, the students construct a barefoot book in which
they draw and write about how things feel with bare feet - which feelings they
like and which they don't.
At the Science Center, the students construct a "Feelie Book" in which
they tape or glue a different material or object on each page. Students label
each page as rough, scratchy, bumpy, soft, smooth, etc.
At the Art Center, students fingerpaint pictures of what they like to
touch. They write a word describing what they have painted as "soft", "hard",
"rough", "smooth", etc.
- Discuss the textures that students have worked with during the Whole Group
activity and at the centers. As the students discuss what textures they felt,
show the word cards.
- At this time, the students report on the work they did at the
Mathematics Center and show their graphs. They explain their graphs and describe the
patterns they made using the appropriate adjectives.
- What did we learn about our world by touching? Can we touch the moon? Can
we touch a star? What sense do we need for that? Can you touch thunder? Can you
touch a cloud? What senses do we need for that?
- What did we learn about size and shape of things using our sense of
- Show the students the diagram of the epidermis. Tell them: The sense of
touch is also very important. We use it in several ways. Since our skin covers
all of the body, our skin protects us, and at the same time it gives us
information about what is around and outside your body. When we touch something
our skin tells us if that thing is strange or familiar, wet or dry, hot or cold,
rough or smooth, hard or soft. Many times it gives us messages about all of these
things -all at the same time. The skin protects our body in another way - it
keeps out harmful organisms that cause disease and infection. For example, if we
cut a finger, we put a Band-aid over the finger to keep out dirt that carries
organisms that cause infection. The skin is like a giant Band-aid over our body
that helps keep out organisms.
All the information we receive by our sense of sight and by our sense of hearing
comes to our brain through nerve endings. It is the same with our skin.
The epidermis, or the top layer of your skin, contains many, many nerve
endings all over your body. These nerve endings send messages to your brain
telling you what kind of thing you are feeling. Then your brain figures out what
it is, and if there is something you need to do about it. For example, if your
friend puts a piece of ice on your neck, the nerve endings in the skin of your
neck send a message back to your brain that says:ICE! Your brain decides
that you don't want ice on your neck and it sends a message back to your body to
move and maybe even yell.
Your sense of touch can do several things. When someone or something touches
you, you can feel that it is touching you, but you can feel that you touch it
back. You can also feel how hard something is touching you. We use special nerve
endings to feel pressure. Sometimes, if we press too hard, we get a bruise on our
One thing that we don't like about our sense of feeling is that we can feel pain.
If we touch something that is hot, it hurts us, and we immediately take our hand
away. That is one way our sense of touch protects us.
Body hair and fingernails are also part of the skin. Your hair does not have
nerve endings on it and does not send messages to the brain. Cutting our hair
and nails when they get too long causes no pain. Fingernails and hair, however,
also protect our bodies.
Something for you to think about and research
Invite a physician to speak to the class about how she or he uses the
sense of touch to help diagnose illness. What do they touch when a person is
well, or when they are sick? Why does a doctor put a thermometer in your mouth?
What does a thermometer do? Why does a person's skin feel hot when he or she is
- How does the sense of touch help us learn about the world we live
- How can you tell if one thing is bigger than another if you can't see
- What else can you learn about something that you can't see, but you can
feel? (Shape: round, straight, bent, curved, broken.)
- What part of your body do you use for the sense of touch?
- How do you take care of your skin?
- Count and tell how many apples there are in this bag, without looking.
Tell your teacher how you did it.
- Can you tell if I have more apples or more oranges in this bag without
looking? Show your friend and if he or she agrees your idea is correct, then show your
- Put on a blindfold. Using these shapes, sequence them by making a pattern;
then, tell your teacher what pattern you made.