Science & Nature · Tot School

Tot School 2020: The Body & The Five Senses 💀

We kicked off the start of October with a brand new theme for us: The Body & The Five Senses! We covered a lot during these specific two weeks, and we had lots of fun doing so.

Focus Shape, Number, Letter, Colors, & Books for our Body & Five Senses Theme

We focused on the letter X, the number 5, a heart shape, and the colors black and white for this particular theme. We also had some pretty amazing books for this theme as well, including: Usborne’s The Big Book of the Body, My Body (part of the Hello, World! series) by Jill McDonald, and I Hear a Pickle: (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It Too!) by Rachel Isadora. If you followed us through previous themes, then you know how much we love the Hello, World! series of books, and My Body is no different. These books are wonderful at explaining science and nature topics to little ones and are beautifully illustrated as well. Usborne’s Big Book of the Body is brand new to our collection, and already loved! There are tons of facts about the body and senses throughout this book, but our favorite part about this book was the huge foldouts including a foldout of a skeleton and the muscular system of the body that were almost as big as Grace! I Hear a Pickle is specifically about the five senses, and while not exactly a story, it does a good job of connecting real life scenarios as far as senses are concerned. Bonus: I hear a Pickle is also written in Spanish as well as English, so little ones can learn simple phrases in a second language throughout.

In addition to our books for our Body and Five Senses theme, we enjoyed watching and listening to some pretty fun songs throughout both weeks as well. You can view our playlist on YouTube by clicking the photo above. We had lots of fun being silly with these songs and singing along in the car when out and about. And fair warning some of the tunes on this particular list will get stuck in your head!

Body Part Match

Our first activity for our Body and Five Senses theme was a body part match up on the front door! Using Grace as a guide, I drew an outline of a body on our glass door using a dry erase marker on the outside of the door so we wouldn’t smudge the outline while completing the activity. I drew some body parts on white card stock with a black sharpie, cut them out, then laminated them so we could use them again the future. There are tons of freebies out there if you search for them if you want something you can print and use. I just chose to draw them myself for the black and white aspect (our focus colors) and I felt like being artsy I guess. I placed all the body parts on the floor in front of the door, and took some black PlayDoh and pressed little PlayDoh balls on the door where parts were supposed to go.

Placing Parts of the Body

Grace was super exited to get started as soon as she saw the set up. She would grab a part and study the body outline for where she planned to place it, and only required help with very few body parts (I blame my drawing skills for the ones she was unsure about). This activity could also be done with foam pieces and water, which would negate the use of PlayDoh. I just used what I had on hand, as our craft foam supply was running a little low.

Sense of Sound Discovery Table

I introduced Grace to our first sense for our next activity: the sense of sound. For each of the five senses, I planned a discovery table with five specific items (our focus number) for Grace to explore independently while we discussed how we experience that particular sense. For the sense of sound I placed a xylophone, a bell, a shaker, a clapper, and a metal pot and spoon on the table along with and ear from our body parts match up.

Exploring the Sense of Sound

Grace was able to explore all the different sounds each item made, interchanging a few of the mallets, and using items together as well. We talked about what body part we hear sound with, and that we can hear loud and quiet sounds, to which Grace replied “Mommy, that’s an opposite”!

X-Ray Letter & Number Tracing

Our next activity focused on our letter and number for our Body and Five Senses Theme. I made “X-rays” using black card stock and chalk, laminated them and set them out with PlayDoh and “bones” (Q-Tips) for Grace to make both the letter X and number 5.

Grace using bones and joints to create the letter X and the number 5.

Grace used the “bones” first to make the letter X and number 5, then we switched to PlayDoh. I helped Grace roll out the PlayDoh bones, and I also rolled out some balls of PlayDoh, and told Grace to make joints where the PlayDoh bones needed to connect. She happily squished the bones together with the little joints. This activity, as simple as it was, aided not only in letter and number recognition, but also helped those fine motor skills, early handwriting skills, and featured our focus colors as well!

Sense of Touch Discovery Table

Our next sensory table for Grace to explore was the sense of touch. I used a divided tray to separate several different textures for Grace to explore including PlayDoh, tape with the sticky side up, a soft stuffed animal, a pine cone, and a smooth ball. I also added in the body part we typically associate with the sense of touch from our body part match activity.

Exploring the Sense of Touch

Grace was able to feel all the different items and their textures, and we talked about what we use to feel things, and how things feel differently, and we described how those things felt. I then set up a little hot and cold sensory experience since she pointed out opposites while we were discussing our previous sense. I put warm water in one bowl, and ice cubes in the other, and let Grace explore and describe the differences. She made sure I knew hot and cold were opposites, and I explained how both bowls contained water but one was liquid and the other was solid. Grace enjoyed placing the ice cubes in the warm water and watching them disappear, and of course enjoyed pouring the water from bowl to bowl.

Exploring Body Systems

We explored several different body systems for our next activity. I ordered Melissa and Doug’s Magnetic Human Body Play Set via Amazon knowing we could get a lot of use for the next several years out of this particular toy. Similar to a paper doll, but way sturdier as it’s made of wood and magnets, this interchangeable set is anatomically correct and has parts for the nervous system, muscles, skeleton, and the body’s organs. We used it in conjunction with our new Big Body Book by Usborne which has amazing fold outs of body systems as well!

Magnetic Human Body Play Set

Grace loved playing with this magnetic play set. I did set aside a few pieces I’m not ready to discuss with Grace just yet, but I’m so glad to have this set in our arsenal of educational toys for future exploration of the human body.

Bandaid Shape Match

I don’t typically plan any activities for the weekend, but Grace’s Daddy wanted to join in on the fun and see what our homeschool routine was like in our new space. Grace was so excited to show him what we do and made sure to tell him when we sit, what we sing and what we do during our daily songs and calendar time. After we finished our little routine and reading one of our books (Grace was way too excited to sit for all three), she proudly explained it was now time for an activity. This activity was inspired by Finding Myself Young’s activity found through Pinterest. As soon as I saw it I knew Grace would love it because it involved bandaids (Grace calls them stickers). The original poster used a plastic doll and washable markers, so the doll could be cleaned after use. I picked up a doll from the Dollar Tree because I wanted something we could use over and over again in the future without having to draw all the shapes every time. Unfortunately the only doll they had in the size I needed was fabric, so I took my chances. I used markers to draw different shapes on the doll, then drew corresponding shapes on bandaids as well. Some of the shapes did bleed…for the most part it looks pretty good, but our octagon and hexagon are a little out of sorts. Grace did not care, she was just over the moon about being able to put “stickers” on the doll’s boo boos. I left the paper on the backs of the bandages so Grace could sharpen those fine motor skills, and she was able to match all the shapes on the bandaids to their corresponding boo boos. I’ve already added this to our shapes busy activities bin because of how much Grace loved this activity. I would suggest using a plastic doll if you are able, especially since the fabric bled so much for us, and if you choose a box of bandaids from the Dollar Tree like I did (we only have fun bandaids handy since Grace’s arrival) I suggest you don’t get the plastic ones, as the color rubs off on little hands.

Sense of Sight Discovery Table

Our next sensory table was focused on the sense of sight. Again, like the other senses we had discussed at this point, I placed five different sight items on Grace’s table for her to explore along with the corresponding body part that allows us to see from our body part match activity. I used a mirror, a light box with clear colored cup lids, binoculars, sunglasses, and a lantern.

Exploring the Sense of Sight

We talked about what body part we see with and how we can see ourselves through mirrors, how light allows us to see things, how we protect our eyes with sunglasses, and how some items (like binoculars) allow us to see things closer when they are far away. After checking out the smaller items, Grace focused in on the light box. She messed around with the lids, and by accident started to overlap them, and she noticed a different color being made. I was not expecting for that to happen. So, I went with it, and explained to Grace a little about the primary colors and how when you mix them they make secondary colors. She loved trying to make new colors with the lids! These are the moments that really take my breath away while on this homeschooling journey with Grace. Seeing her discover new things, even when they aren’t on the agenda, is such a awesome experience, and I love her initiative to explore and learn new things.

Lava Lamp Science Set Up

We enjoyed another science experiment for our next activity! Playing on the sense of sight we were exploring earlier in the day, I came across a really cool activity through Facebook, and thought it would be a good one to try with Grace. So we set out on another kitchen science adventure and made DIY lava lamps. The video I watched called for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, two tablespoons of water, and 10 or so drops of food coloring, and used a wineglass. We settled on a set of Mason Jar glasses instead of a wineglass for our experiment.

Pouring the Ingredients

Again I pre-measured what we would need and let Grace do the pouring. Our measurements were a little off, as I didn’t realize I was so low on vegetable oil, but we made it work. After pouring vegetable oil in each glass, then adding water to each as well, Grace helped me drop the food coloring in each glass. Then Grace was all too excited to drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in each one.

Watching the Reaction

The result was pretty cool! Again we probably could have used a bit more oil, but Grace loved watching the bubbles and color separate, float to the top and go back down. We will definitely do this again at some point, maybe even experiment with different shapes of glasses and different amounts of oil, water, and food coloring. I do believe kitchen science experiments are going to be a little more routine going forward!

Sense of Smell Discovery Table

Can’t you just smell the picture above? I set up a sense of smell discovery table for Grace for our next Body and Five Senses themed activity. Again I picked five smells for Grace to explore: mint leaves, rosemary sprigs, an orange halve, cinnamon sticks, and coffee grounds. Using some left over party cups I had stuffed away in the pantry for who knows how long, I poked holes in the bottom of five of the cups, then cut down another five to make little holders for the fragrant items I was chose.

Blind Smell Test

I covered the cut off cups holding the items Grace was going to be smelling by turning the other cups upside down, and placed the body part we use to smell with from our body parts match activity on the tray.

Exploring the Sense of Smell

As soon as Grace saw the nose she knew what to do, but I still talked to her about what body part we use to smell things. Grace was able to do a blind smell test where she could identify a couple of the smells, but some were new to her. Then we lifted the top cups off and she could smell them while looking at the items as well. This ultimately turned into a touch and taste activity as well, but was a success none the less. And now I may be a tad worried my toddler likes the taste of coffee grounds.

Germs Watercolor Resist

Grace really likes to paint, and I’ll be honest we don’t paint nearly enough. So when thinking about an activity that touched on germs, I thought another watercolor resist activity would fit the bill. I traced Grace’s hands on a piece of black card stock, then cut out the hands and set them aside…they may come in handy for another project. Get it? HA. I then took the black card stock and taped it into place on top of a white piece of card stock. Using a white crayon I drew “germs” on to each of the hands, and then placed it on top of a scrap piece of cardboard just to protect our surface. I placed our new watercolor pallet (found at the Dollar Tree) and a cup of water and let Grace paint her hands. Bonus: the cup had heart shapes for our focus shape! I spoke to Grace real quick about how while our hands can appear clean, we can’t always see the germs that are on them. I’m not sure if it really resonated because at this point she was just ready to paint. And paint she did. She tried every color on her new watercolor pallet.

Watercolor Hands

After she had finished painting her hands, I removed the black stencil, and set it off to the side to dry. Grace of course kept right on painting on the cardboard. Unlike a previous watercolor resist activity we had done, the germs I drew didn’t really show through the watercolors like they were supposed to, but I love these hands all the same. I noticed this particular pallet of paint seemed to be a bit thicker as far as consistency than other pallets we’ve used, maybe that was the issue. You can see a couple of spots where the crayon is barely showing through, but after the painting was dry I was able to hang it up on the refrigerator and talk to Grace about germs a little more and how they can make us sick, which is why we wash and sanitize so much. We also counted the fingers on each hand since five is the number we have been focusing on for this particular theme. While this activity didn’t quite turn out the way it was planned, this Mama at least got a nice painting of her little one’s hands!

Sense of Taste Discovery Table

Our last activity was a taste test, complete with the five flavors we typically taste: sweet, savory, bitter, sour, and salty. I pulled out the last of those heart shape printed cups and placed a little something in each cup for Grace to try for each of those flavors. Pretzels for salty, Cheez-It’s for savory, a lemon for sour, unsweetened coco powder for bitter, and honey for the sweet flavor. We counted the cups, pointed out the heart shapes, and then talked a little bit about each flavor. Then Grace got down to the real business of trying out those flavors.

Exploring the Sense of Taste

Grace immediately went for the pretzels and Cheez-It’s, as they are familiar. Next she tried the coco powder and to my surprise loved it! After a little coaxing she finally tried the lemon (she used to love lemons but they aren’t something we keep around typically so she may not have remembered). According to Grace lemons are “really good”. When it came to the honey however, she refused to try it, even after I gave her a spoon. I did manage to surprise her with some by rubbing the spoon on her lips and boy that did not go over well. HA. I’m thinking I should have used a cookie for the sweet flavor. At least Grace heard some new vocabulary for describing different flavors of food.

I think Grace had a great introduction to the human body and the five senses. It’s a theme I’m sure we will cover again in the future, but I love that Grace can tell us where her heart is located, as well as her brain. She can tell you where the smallest bone is in the body, and can tell you that the elbow, wrist, and shoulder are called joints. Grace can also tell you what body part you use for each of the five senses and is somewhat obsessed with skeletons and singing Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes now. And thanks to some wonderful grandparents, the learning didn’t just happen at our house. What a fun theme and so much was learned! 💀


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If you’d like to see a sample of how I currently plan out themes for a week check out the Tot School Schedule 🍒 v2.0 page!

You can see a list of our 2020 Tot School Themes 🐝 here.

Interested in purchasing plans or printables for your at home Tot School / Preschool ? Visit our Etsy Shop 🛍 today!

You can still see our original Tot School Schedule by visiting the Tot School Schedule 🍍 v1.0 page.

You can also see a list of last year’s themes on the 2019 Tot School Themes ☂️ page.

You can find all our daily songs, their tunes and lyrics by visiting our Tot School Songs 🎵 page.

Want even more resources for Tot School? Check out our Tot School Resources Page 📚 for some of our favorites!

EVERYDAY a little Grace 🌷

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