Teaching Science to First Grade & ESL Students: The 5 SENSES

These ideas are good for all students, including ESL and those with learning disabilities.  Teaching science to ESL students involves a lot of hands on activities, visuals, and labeling. Here are some ideas:

The 5 Senses – Use a lot of various things for each sense.  Label by putting names of things on index cards:

  • SEEING – have different objects or pictures to look at such as things of different colors and shapes, etc.   An activity would be to group things together that are the same color or the same shape.
  • FEELING – have objects of different textures to touch such as rough and smooth, hard & soft objects (rock, stick, cotton ball, feather), etc.  An activity would be to group all the rough rocks together and all the smooth stones together.
  • HEARING – have different things that make sound such as musical instruments, small drum, container with popcorn in it so it makes noise when shaken, etc.
  • SMELLING – have various things to smell such as a cotton ball with perfume, small containers with different spices, cotton ball with vinegar, etc.
  • TASTING – have different things to taste (something sweet, something salty, something sour)

Concepts to cover:  We find out many things by using our senses.  Our eyes help us see, our hands help us feel, our mouth helps us taste, our ears help us hear, and our nose helps us smell things. We can tell if things are the same or different by using our senses, and we can group things together that are alike.  Many times we will use several of our senses.   If we’re looking at flowers, we can look, smell, and touch the flower.


  • Play “The 5 Questions Game” with various objects from all the five groups.  Ask, “Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Can you hear it?  Can you smell it?  Can you taste it?”
  • Have an assortment of various seeds or dried beans.  Have the students sort the seeds/beans in different ways.  For example, sort them by colors, then sort by shapes, and then sort by size.
  • Put some objects in a brown paper bag.  Let students feel the objects inside the bag and guess what they are.
  • Matching Game:  Have small pictures of ears, eyes, mouth, hands, and nose.  Glue each picture on an index card.  Write each of these words on an index card:  hear, see, taste, feel, smell.  Have student match the pictures with the corresponding word.