It’s hot in here! That itches! Oh, this blanket is so soft. Ouch, I stepped on a rock! All of these things are felt because of our sense of touch. Help you students discover why this is an important sense.
While your other senses are handled by specific parts of your body like your eyes or ears, your sense of touch is found all over your body. Without the sense of touch you would not feel your feet touch the ground when you walk or feel pain when you are hurt. Help your students understand the importance of the sense of touch by reading a book and doing some touching activities.
1. The students will discover that we use our senses to learn about the world around us.
2. The students will learn that our sense of touch is all over the body because of the nerves in our skin.
3. The students will learn how to protect our skin and how our skin protects us.
Book: Touching by Rebecca Rissman
(Optional) A Braille book from the library for students to feel
Show the students the book Touching and explain that it is a nonfiction book which means the information is real. Read and discuss the sense of touch and include these facts in your discussion:
- You feel things on your skin because under the top layer of skin are nerves which send messages to your brain. Nerves are like strings spread all over the body.
- The important things you feel are heat, cold, pain and pressure.
- Feeling pain protects you by warning you to move away from the source of the pain.
- Our sense of touch shows us the shape, size and feel of our world.
- Your brain is on the lookout for “trouble" to protect you from harm. After a while your brain ignores things that stay the same like the feel of your clothes against your skin but if something different happens (for example a bee sting, putting your finger on a hot stove or if you have a pebble in your shoe) your brain is on alert.
- People who have lost one of their other senses like eyesight rely on the sense of touch. Blind people touch a Braille book to read and feel their way around a room.
- Protect your skin by dressing for the weather, using sunscreen and being mindful of objects that can burn or cut the skin.
Following the book and discussion take your class on a “field trip". Go on a scavenger hunt! Choose the classroom, gymnasium or playground to hunt for different things. Find items that feel smooth, soft, hard, cold, hot, rough, sticky and so on.
1. Fill paper bags with different items. Suggestions could be: seeds, dirt, cooked noodles, sandpaper, popcorn, a sock, and ball or flour. Pass the bags around one at a time and ask the students to guess what is inside.
2. Finger paint with pudding! Mix up some instant pudding and put a glob on each table. How does it feel?
- The sides of your tongue have a lot of nerve endings. That’s why it hurts so much when you bite your tongue.
- A cat uses its whiskers as part of his sense of touch.
- Animals that live underground use their sense of touch to feel for their food.
Use this printable worksheet for your students to draw six different things that they feel: cold, wet, hot, painful, soft and hard.
Rissman, Rebecca. Touching. Heinemann Library, 2010.
Collins, Andrew. See, Hear, Smell, Taste and Touch: Using Your Five Senses. National Geographic, 2006.
Romanek, Trudee. Wow! The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read About the Five Senses. Kids Can Press, Ltd., 2004.
Prochovnic, Dawn. Four Seasons! Five Senses! ABDO Group, 2012.