• Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    Black Canyon Of The Gunnison

    National Park Colorado

The Five Senses

National Park Service Mission

...to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area Outreach Education is committed to: Creating an awareness and fostering an appreciation for the mission of the National Park Service and the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Curecanti National Recreation Area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


Curriculum enhancing activities designed to complement national and state content standards across a variety of disciplines.

Title: The Five Senses

Grade level: First Grade

Time length: 60 minutes

Subject areas: Science

Teacher: Two NPS Education Specialists

Colorado Content Standards: Science: (3.1) Students know and understand the characteristics of living things, the diversity of life, and how things interact with each other and their environment.

Theme: Animals, like people, have five senses and depend on them for survival.

NPS focus: Public Law 39-535 (Organic Act),

Public Law 95-250 (Redwood National Park Expansion Act),

Vail Agenda Education Committee Report (Strategic Goal #2; Action Plan 16)and (Strategic Goal #3; Action Plan 52,62),

Curecanti and Black Canyon Themes: Natural Resources/Wildlife

Environmental concepts: Everything must fit how and where it lives (adaptations).

Environmental learning hierarchy: Analogies, sensory awareness

Materials: For an approximate class size of 25: air freshener; sound effects cassette tape; audio cassette player; two "feel boxes" (contents: rabbit fur, spoon, fork, animal jaw bone, bark, tennis ball, rock, fir cone, owl feather, etc.); eight 35mm film canisters with scented cotton balls (two canisters for each of the following scents: mint, peach, pine, sage); scented oils; Nalgene bottles; Lifesavers candy; swimmer's nose clip; oversized glasses, nose, ears, lips or tongue and hands OR laminated pictures of a large nose, eyes, ears, tongue, and hands; laminated pictures of a rabbit, moose, raccoon, mole, eagle, owl, mule deer and coyote

Brandenberg, Aliki. (1962). My Five Senses. Toronto, Canada: Fitzhenry and Whiteside.


Knowledge level: Students will be able to verbally name the five senses.

Comprehension level: Students will be able to verbally give four different examples of animals that depend on seeing, hearing, smelling and touching.


During the introduction to the National Park Service and to Curecanti NRA and Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, walk round the room with a concealed air freshener. As students begin to notice the scent, ask them about it. "Do you smell something? What do you think that smell is? What part of your body do you use for smelling?"

Have the child that correctly answers come to the front of the room and hold the laminated picture of a nose (or put on an oversized nose). "Smelling is one of our five senses. Do you know what the other four senses are?" (Hearing, touch, taste, sight). As students identify the remaining senses, have them come to the front of the room and hold the corresponding laminated picture (or put on appropriate oversized ears, eyes, fingers, and tongue.) "Let's name our five senses together. People and animals use these senses to help them survive. Today, let's learn how people and animals use their senses."


What's That Sound?

"What part of the body do we use for hearing? We use our ears to hear. I have a tape with different types of sounds on it. You will use your ears and listen very carefully to identify the sounds. When you hear a sound, raise your hand if you know what the sound is." Play the tape sounds, pausing between each to allow students to name the sound. Continue this for a few minutes.

Check for student understanding:

"What do people use their ears for? Some people can't hear. When people can't hear, they depend more on their other senses. What other senses might a person use, if they weren't able to hear? Their sense of sight to explore their surroundings and possibly the sense of touch to feel the beat of the music. Animals also hear with their ears. Why is a good sense of hearing important for animals? Show the laminated pictures of a rabbit and moose, and discuss how these two animals use their sense of hearing to help them survive.

What Is It?

Divide the class into two groups. Have students sit in two circles with a box containing a variety of objects in the center of each of the circles. Instruct them not to reach into the box until instructed. "In this activity, we'll use our hands and fingers. What sense involves our hands and fingers? Have you ever had to go somewhere in the dark and couldn't see where you were going? You could tell where you were going by feeling what was around you. Sometimes we can tell what objects are by touching them, even when we can't see them. I have a box with some objects inside. You can't see what the objects are. By reaching your hand in the box, you can probably tell what the object is by the way that it feels." Reach your hand into the box and hold onto an object such as the rabbit fur. "The object I am holding is soft and fluffy. It is light and can fit in my hand. This object is also found in nature. Does anyone know what it might be?" After several students have guessed, show them the object. Identify one student in each group to begin by reaching into the box, selecting an object, and then describing it to their group. Moving in a clockwise direction each student takes a turn describing a different object in the box. You may need to remind students that they are not looking with their eyes, but feeling with their hands. You may also need to help the students describe the objects by asking questions. Is it round? Is it heavy or light? Can it fit in your hand? Have the students use two or three words to describe the object, then pull it out for everyone to see. (If there are time constraints, choose several students who have been well behaved to come to the front of the class, reach into the box, and describe an object. The rest of the students can ask questions, and try to identify the object.)

Check for student understanding:

"Do you think that living would be hard if you were blind? Some animals can't see very well. They have to use their sense of touch." Show the laminated picture of a mole. "Moles live underground where it is dark. They have small eyes and can't see very well. Moles have to use their sense of touch for finding food and for finding their way in the dark." Show the laminated picture of a raccoon. "Raccoons also have a good sense of touch. Sometimes they use their front paws to wash their food in the water before eating it. A good sense of touch helps some animals survive."

Sharp Eyes

"What part of the body do you use for seeing? You will need to use sharp eyes and look carefully in this activity." Have one of the rangers' stand in front of the students. "I am going to give you about a minute to look carefully at the ranger. Look at the ranger's clothing, how the ranger is standing and everything about how the ranger looks." After a minute have the ranger turn his or her back to the students and change three things about the way they look. For example, the ranger may untie a shoelace or take off a watch. Then have the ranger face the students. "The ranger has changed three things about the way he or she looks. Can you tell me what he or she has changed?" If there is enough time after they have identified the three changes, have the students sit facing a partner. Have them study their partners for about a minute. Then ask the students to sit back-to-back with their partners and change three things. Then have them sit facing their partners and observe what is different about each other. During this time, remind them that they need to look very carefully with their eyes to find the changes that their partners have made. If time allows, repeat the activity encouraging careful observation.

Check for student understanding:

"You needed to have sharp eyes to notice the changes your partners made. What are some things you can see in nature if you use sharp eyes to look very carefully? Using sharp eyes to look carefully can help us enjoy nature. Sometimes people cannot see. What is this called? What senses might they use instead? Animals also need to use their eyes. Why do you think good eyesight is important for some animals?" Show the laminated picture of the eagle. "Eagles have very good eyesight. When they are flying high in the sky, eagles use their sharp eyes to spot food, or prey, on the ground." Show the laminated picture of the owl. "Owls also have good eyesight. Look at how big their eyes are. They need these large eyes because they hunt at night."

The Nose Knows

Divide the class into two groups. Have the students sit in two circles. "What do we use our noses for? We use our noses to smell. What are some things you like to smell? I have four containers with a different scent inside them. I am going to pass them around, one at a time. After you have smelled the container, pass it to the person sitting next to you. If you think you know what the scent is, raise your hand but do not say anything." Pass a 35mm container around the circles. You may need to remind the students to only use their noses and not their eyes and fingers. After everyone has had a chance to smell the container, ask them what the scent was. Continue until they have passed all the containers around the circles.

Check for student understanding:

"Why do you think that having a good sense of smell is important for people? (to smell the smoke of a fire, determine if food is spoiled, etc.) Having a good sense of smell is important for some animals. When most animals are born, they need to have a good sense of smell so they can recognize the scent of their mothers." Show the laminated picture of the coyote and mule deer. "These animals use their sense of smell to find food and to avoid danger. A good sense of smell helps animals survive."

The Taste Test

"What part of your body do you use for tasting? We use our tongues for tasting, but our noses also help us when we taste. Sometimes we like the taste of food that has a good smell. If we couldn't smell, we might have trouble tasting." Ask the second ranger to come to the front of the room. "These are lifesaver candies. They feel the same, and are the same shape. They are all hard and crunchy and in the shape of a circle. I am going to have the ranger try and figure out which color/flavor we give him/her, using only his/her sense of taste." Show the students the color, but tell them not to say it out loud because the Ranger will be able to figure out the flavor by knowing the color. Have the ranger cover his or her nose, eyes and taste the candy, identifying the color and flavor. If there's extra time, have students do the same activity in pairs.

Check for student understanding:

Which other sense helps us to taste? (smell)


Review all senses and their function.


See section III.


Not appropriate.


Final check for student understanding: Randomly ask students to name the five senses. As they name each sense, use the appropriate oversized prop from the anticipatory set. Ask the students to name animals that depend on seeing, hearing, smelling and touching. As students name animals, show the laminated pictures. Read My Five Senses book and have students do an action along with each sense (raccoon eyes for sight, sniffing for smell, cup hand around ear for hearing, lick lips for taste, and wiggle fingers for touch).


Indicate what you judge to have been the strengths of the lesson, what changes you made during the lesson and what changes you would make if you were to teach the unit again.


Not appropriate.


None at this time.

Did You Know?

Upper Black Canyon/Morrow Point Reservoir

The Black Canyon stretches far beyond the 14 miles within the national park. Including the canyon within Curecanti National Recreation Area and Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, the total length is 53 miles.