Introduction to the Five Senses
As you explore the amazing senses with your children, encourage them to ask you questions and also ask them some of the following questions. Can you chew food with your nose or smell a flower with your ears? No, of course you can't. But why not? Because God made each of our body parts with certain jobs to do and the ability to get their jobs done. For example, it is easy to pick up a sheet of paper using your fingers, but do you think you could do it using only your teeth and lips? This would probably look funny, but it also shows you that you can use your mouth and other parts of your body to pick things up, but it is harder than using your hands.
Humans have five different senses; do you know what they are? Do you know what parts of your body you use to do each of those things? We see with our eyes, we hear with our ears, smell with our nose, taste with our tongue, and feel with our hands and skin.
Eyes & Vision
As your children look at their eyes in a mirror, talk about the visible eye parts. Then let them look at yours or their siblings' eyes and compare what they see. Keep the discussion simple for little kids by talking about how eyelids, eyelashes, and tears protect our eyes by keeping dust and other harmful things from getting in.
How do our eyes work? The little dark circle in the center of each of your eyes lets light in. It is called a pupil. If you are in a dark place where no lights at all are on, can you see anything? No, you can't because our eyes need light to be able to see! Once the light goes in, it hits a part inside at the back of your eye that is very sensitive to light. This part is called the retina. When light touches the retina, it makes an upside-down picture of whatever you are looking at. A large nerve called the optic nerve carries the image to your brain where it gets turned around so that you see it the right way instead of upside-down!
Thinking Scientifically: Your eyes and your brain work together very quickly to flip images around so that you see them right side up. It happens automatically whenever your eyes are open. Seeing is like breathing, you don't even have to think about it, but you do it all the time!
Plan to get your children's eyes checked around the time you are studying eyes and ask if you and your kids can go on a tour of the eye doctor's office while you are there. You can learn all about caring for your eyes, eye diseases and vision problems, the equipment eye doctors use to check and treat your eyes, and how glasses and contact lenses help correct vision. This trip is a fun learning experience for all ages, but will be most beneficial to older children.
Standing several feet away from your child, toss a bean bag back and forth (or two kids can do it together). After a few tosses, blindfold your child (or children) and yourself. Then try tossing the bean bag back and forth again. Talk about what senses you had to use when your eyes were covered and what was harder to do when you couldn't see. How many more times did you catch the bean bag with your eyes open than when you had the blindfold on?
For younger children: Sit on the floor and roll a large ball instead. Cover only one eye and discover how both eyes work together.
Introduce the Braille alphabet. Braille is what people who cannot see use to read and write! They 'see'' the letters by feeling them with their finger tips instead of looking at them with their eyes. Print out a copy of the (Braille alphabet): http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/gif/braille.gif. To make the letters raised like Braille, put a drop of white glue over each black dot. When the glue is dry you will be able to feel the raised dots with your fingers.
For older children: Encourage your kids memorize the letters (all or some) of the Braille alphabet. Then write a word with dots of glue, let it dry, and have your child 'read'' it with his or her eyes closed. Discuss how and why it is much easier to read with your eyes than feeling letters with your fingers.
Kids love to explore the world around them. Make good use of their curiosity by equipping them with a magnifying glass so they can look at things up close. Even a pesky house fly is fun to look at under a magnifying glass! As you talk to them about sight, give your kids some objects to look at for a few minutes and then give them each a magnifying glass to compare how much different things look through a lens than through our eyes alone.