Naturally Sense-ational

Naturally Sense-ational


Explore the fall season through the senses.

Activity: If I were a Raccoon

Fill tub with water. Place towel with a hole in center on top of tub. Collect several pairs of objects. Place one of each pair inside tub and leave the other one visible on a tray. Point to one of the items from the tray. Using sense of touch, just like a hungry raccoon would, fine the item’s match.

Activity: Deer Ears

Deer, rabbits, and many woodland animals have large ears to improve their hearing. This helps them escape before a predator arrives. You can have deer (or rabbit) ears by cupping your hand behind your ear. This directs the sound into the ear canal the same way our ear does, only better! Give it a try!

Activity: Using my Eagle Eyes

It is said that eagles could read the newspaper at the other end of a football field, if they could read. Now that is good eyesight! Using a pair of binoculars gives us a pretty good idea of their eyesight. Pretending we have binoculars at our eyes doesn’t really give us better sight, but it does help us focus on what is in front of us, without the distractions of peripheral vision. Show your tot how to make binoculars with their hands or make a pair out of toilet paper tubes. Use a rubber band or tape to keep them together. Go on a walk and use your eagle (or owl) eyes!

Activity: P.U.!

A good sense of smell is critical for the survival of many animals. The red fox use their sense of smell in a flower garden and the kitchen, but have you ever smelled the soil? A decaying log? A walnut? Take a walk using your fox snout to smell things you haven’t before. You might be surprised at the wonderful scents you find!

Activity: Take a Hike!

Animals often have one or more senses that is particularly keen. Take a walk and use deer ears, eagle eyes, raccoon fingers, and your fox snout to discover new smells, sights, and sounds.

Activity: The Smelling Tray

The things on this tray are for smelling. Take several black film canisters or larger containers with lids (punch a pinhole in the lid if you like). Place smelly items, such as onions, flowers, pine needles, or an orange inside. You can put a drop of extract on a cotton ball and place it inside the film canister. Smell through the pinhole. Extracts are found with the spices at the grocery store or you can use essential oils found in craft stores and natural food stores. Can you guess what is inside the canister? Is the smell a thumbs up or a thumbs down smell?

Activity: The Seeing Tray

Use the binoculars on the tray to check out the view. It is hard for kids, and many adults, to find birds flying or hidden in trees. Make your target something general so success is almost guaranteed. Often children are fascinated by the change in size, but the fuzziness, if not binoculars are not focused, can turn them off. They may prefer their own binoculars with no lenses. Make your own toilet paper binoculars if you like. Use large targets when using binoculars. Can you find the leaves on the trees? How big are Daddy’s eyes when you look through binoculars? What happens to Mommy’s ear when you look through the other end of the binoculars?

Activity: The Listening Tray

Does a shell really have the ocean in it? Actually we hear the sounds of our own ear echoing through the shell. Birds make several different kinds of sounds for different reasons. They sing a song, they call, they may tap their beak on a tree, or they may vibrate their wings against their bodies. Each type of sound is for a reason, to establish territory, to find a make, to communicate with a family member.

Activity: Counting Sounds

Take a minute and see how many sounds you hear. Have someone keep time. The others listen carefully. Each time you hear a sound, put a finger up. Talk about what you heard. Did you hear an airplane, a cricket, a bird, a person?

Activity: The Tasting Tray

Everything on this tray is edible. Give it a try!

Activity: The Touching Tray

Textures are so important to tots. Give everything a touch, then place one item in the feely bag while your tot has his eyes closed. Have him guess what is in the bag by feeling…not peeking. If he needs a hint, have him look at the tray and find out what is missing.

Activity: Peek A Boo

This favorite game takes a twist. Try using a piece of bark with a hole in it. Have your tot lead peek a boo with you. When…or if you tire of this game, browse the peek a boo book.

Activity: The Five Senses song

Eyes for seeing
A nose for smelling
Ears for hearing,
A mouth for eating
And hands for clapping

Activity: Seed Box

Fill a large container with seeds, such as millet or sunflower seeds. Use cups, containers, and spoons, to fill and dump just like you would in a sandbox. Can you feel around and fine the hidden items?

Activity: Sensory Texture Painting

Mix one or more of the following into tempura or other kind of washable paint: Sand, coffee grounds, spices, crumbled natural items, Epson salt, baking soda, liquid starch, cornmeal, etc. Help your toddler use words to describe what they see, feel, or smell.

Activity: Mr. Pumpkin Head

For this activity, you’ll need a medium-sized pumpkin and Mr. Potato head pieces. Poke some holes in the pumpkin where the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and hat should be. Let your child decorate “Mr. Pumpkin Head” using Mr. Potato Head pieces.

Activity: Fall Sorting

Gather small objects from a nature hike—4 of each object (4 acorns, 4 maple seeds, 4 pine cones, 4 leaves, and other fall objects). Place objects in a small container on the table. Take some time to look over what you’ve found. Discuss textures and smells with your child, talk about differences and similarities. Which items are rough? Smooth? Count acorns. Then help your child to sort the objects into an egg carton.

Activity: Squirrel Sighting and Song

The squirrels are busy in the fall! Take some time to sit and watch squirrels as they gather nuts and seeds for the winter. Take note of their bushy tails, quick movements, and eating habits. Then sing the Squirrel Song:

Fox squirrel, fox squirrel
Shake your bushy tail (pretend to shake tail)
Fox squirrel, fox squirrel
Shake your bushy tail (pretend to shake tail)
Wrinkle up your funny nose (act out line)
Put a nut between your toes (pretend to eat a nut)
Fox squirrel, fox Squirrel, shake your bushy tail (pretend to shake tail)

Sensory Snack

Allow your toddler to experience different tastes (sweet, salty, sour). Offer a sampling of sweet things (say these are “sweet,” etc.): a cookie, a grape or raisin, something sour (a lemon wedge or pickle), and something salty (cheese, potato chip, etc.)

Will You Read to Me

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
Leaves by David Ezra Stein
Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

Activities provided by:

E Resources Group
2550 Stagecoach Road
Webster City, Iowa 50595-7375
Toddling on the Wild Side was funded by REAP-CEP

_ 0-1
✓ 1-2
✓ 2-3
_ 3-4
_ 4-5
_ 5-6

Category: Adult-Child

30 minutes


Iowa Early Learning Standards:
1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1, 6.2, 7.3

Related Kindernature Resources: