Well, I have been doing my search on how to teach my daughter about her senses. Sure, she can tell you that you use your ears to hear and your eyes to see, etc., because that is how she was taught to respond. However, when you try to use the concepts in real life she gets confused about which sense does what which shows me that while she knows the "answer" she does not yet understand the concept. After much research and many great ideas from fellow homeschoolers I have decided that using food is a great place to start. After all, food is the only thing that allows her to use all of her senses including taste. I mean, she can "see" a dog, she can "feel" it, "hear" it and even "smell" it, but I sure do not want her tasting it! So what we have started doing is making a "life skills" lesson out of meal time preparation. Each day we not only learn to cook and prepare food but we explore each one of our senses while doing it. So far it seems to be working great and I think my daughter already has a better understanding of her senses.
I originally thought I would make "breakfast" the lesson of the day. We would get up and fix breakfast all the while exploring our senses while we prepared, cooked and ate the meal. The problem is I am not much of a morning person and I just couldn't get motivated enough to make such messy and large breakfasts! Therefore we typically leave breakfast fun for Saturday. Instead we have been focusing more on lunch.
For lunchtime we do will do several different things. One is to have my daughter help actually prepare the food. Of course we learn about measuring, mixing, etc. But while we are doing it I will comment on how it smells, feels, and looks, and so forth. Our meals very from a full out cooked lunch to more simple things like making her own sandwich or lunchable type meal.
Another way we do lunch is referred to as a "Muffin Tin Meal." Some of the ladies in my Myspace Homeschool group shared this idea with me and I fell in love with it. All you do is prepare the food and present it in a muffin tin. It makes the meal very appealing and fun to make. The first one Gess made was simple but she had fun doing it. It was still close enough to Christmas, so we cut bread in the shape of a Christmas Tree and made a PB&J out if it and we added a few things to make it a meal. Here is what it looked like.
Don't you think that would look appealing to a child? It certainly did to Gess. I think she had almost as fun eating it as she did making it.
We have also baked food in the Muffin Tins. For one of them we took a 12 muffin tin and lined 6 cups with corn beef hash and cracked an egg on top of each one. In the other 6 cups we put some strawberry muffin mix in it and had an entire meal for each of us for breakfast all in one pan! (That's a Saturday morning special!)
Another thing we do with the tins is to make a game out of fixing it. I will have her look for something "crunchy" and then something "cold" or look for a "fruit" or a "vegetable" etc. We are learning so much more than our senses with these! However, learning our senses was our main goal so we also have another game we use the Muffin tins for.
This idea came from another homeschooler friend in my Myspace group. She mentioned blindfolding my daughter or having her sit on her hands to learn that she can use different senses to figure out what things were. So we decided to incorporate that idea with the Muffin Tin Meals. Here is what we do. First I make the tin with various foods while she is out of the room. Today this is what we had.
The next thing I do is blindfold my daughter and bring her into the room. Then I start letting her explore the food with her hands.
She has to feel it with her hands and then guess what it is. Then she has to taste it and then guess again. She is pretty good at guessing them right after the "touch" test but its always fun for her confirm if she is right by tasting it. Today the only ones that failed the touch test were peanut butter, pudding, and radishes. The only one that failed both tests were the radishes which was the only thing she had not eaten before. After the game we take the blind fold off and let her enjoy the food.
Remember, whether we are using a Muffin Tin, cooking an entire meal or simply making a sandwich we talk about our senses while doing it. How does it feel? Did you hear the egg crack or the bacon sizzle? Can you smell the cookies as they bake in the oven? Which grape is bigger, is the cheese hard or soft and so and on and on. The point is to teach her in an every day practical situation how her senses work and what they are for. She uses them all the time, this is to help her understand how. This is not something we are doing for a week, or month or any time frame at all. Like I said, it is a "life skill" lesson that offers teaching in so many areas from nutrition to math that it is something we now "do" now.
For more Muffin Tin ideas try this link which shares lots of Muffin Tin Meals. Many blogs also share their ideas on what they call "Muffin Tin Mondays." (Guess I should have posted this yesterday on a Monday huh?) One that I follow is "Her Cup Overfloweth" She has some awesome Muffin Tin ideas! This is just one way to make a meal into an fun, educational, and delicious lesson, but it is one that is working really well for us.