Touchy, Touchy! Part One

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT determine if a given object is soft, rough, sharp, bumpy, smooth, or sticky by touching and describing a variety of objects presented to them.

Big Idea

Many kids enter kindergarten never having experiences that allow them to explore their senses. This lesson targets the understanding of their sense of touch.


10 minutes

If you do not have a copy of the Kissing Hand, you can use this YouTube link. When I use it, I just pause the video from time to time and do my think-aloud.

I read “The Kissing Hand” to my class. I think through the story as I read. I say things out loud like, "I like how it feels when someone kisses me on the hand." It feels so good.

We talk about how it feels to have someone kiss your hand. I have them gently kiss the top of their own hands. I ask the kids to try describing how it feels for someone like their mom to kiss their hand.

When they use words to describe how it feels, I ask them to explain what they mean. One student said, “soft.” I asked that student to explain what soft means. This gets the kids thinking about words that we use to describe things that we feel.


10 minutes

I then have the kids define touch/feel by creating a target chart with them. They give me words to describe the concept of "touch" or "feel" like sharp, soft, hard, rough. I put each word they give me in a circle outside the main word with a line connecting to it. If they struggle coming up with words, I provide them with examples of things they might touch like a kitten, sand paper, cactus, wood, etc.

Because their vocabulary is developing, I allow them to use words like pokey for sharp at first. I make the connection to the correct vocabulary later in the lesson.



10 minutes

I have the kids sit at their tables and wait patiently for the bag of objects to be passed out. I have high expectations for behavior in my room. The best way to get the kind of behavior you desire is through positive discipline. That simply means that you are proactive at all times and you have kids model ideal behavior for each other. You model it, students model it, you expect it. See the modeling scientist behavior video in the resources to see how I get my kids to maintain good behavior through such exciting activities.

The kids are provided a bag of objects to touch. Each bag contains one of each of the following:

cotton ball


square of sandpaper

mini marshmallow

hard object (I use whatever I have..small rocks, nuts in shells...)

rough rock (I use granite)

smooth object (paper plate-dinner size, cheep white)

Please note that while some of these objects could be used to define two different textures, it is confusing to kids to use them that way. Since this is an introductory lesson, it is best to use each object in the bag to demonstrate only one type of texture so choose carefully.

I write a tree map on chart paper with the words: soft, sharp, hard, rough, bumpy, sticky and smooth as labels. As we experience each object in the bag, I have the kids tell me where to write the name of each object on the tree map. I also ask them to name other objects that have that same characteristic. I have them explain why they want it placed under that heading.

Once the skeleton of the tree map is created,we take the objects out of the bag one at a time and follow this procedure (using the first item, the plate, as the example):

1) take plate out of the bag and feel the area (geometric area) of the plate while avoiding the bumpy edges.

2) Tell them they are to stay SILENT and to thinking in their head. Ask them how the inside area (I hold up my plate and demonstrate) feels? Provide wait time.

3) Tell them to talk at their tables about how the area of the plate feels.

4) Tell them to think silently in their heads and ask them where you should write "plate" on the tree map.

5) Choose a name from a name stick can (this avoids subconscious bias). Ask that child to answer you in a complete sentence (sentence stem, "The area of the plate is _______ .). I ask the child to explain WHY they chose that descriptive word (state and defend). If the child uses the incorrect vocabulary word (you can determine if it is just a vocabulary error by their "why" statement), guide them to the correct one using clues as in definitions of each one and then re-ask the question. Once they determine to write it under "smooth", I glue the picture of the plate next to the word.

I continue to do this for the rest of the objects as they tell me where to put them. I have kids go through this process each time so THEY are the explorers. This helps them gain ownership of the vocabulary and the process of making determinations based on evidence.

For the marshmallow, I have the kids squish it between their fingers until it begins to melt a little and becomes sticky. We eat the marshmallow at the end so it is the last object we describe. I list it only once under both the sticky and squishy labels.

I clean their hands with hand sanitizer as soon as we are finished squishing and eating so we don't spread germs from licking our fingers!


5 minutes

I explain to the kids how we feel and how we interpret signals from our bodies to our brains in a very simplified way. I use my hand and a piece of yarn for a nerve (bright color). I tape the yarn to a finger and up my arm to my head (brain). I explain how the sense of touch begins in the nerves in our hand and sends signals to our brains. 

We then touch the objects in the bag one more time, but this time we are consciously aware of the brain receiving signals from the hands and now the face (we rub the cotton ball and the sand paper on our faces to experience the difference).

I have them do this because young children are TACTILE! We often forget that they learn through their senses more than anything else. We use the face because it is a sensitive area and the receptors in the face are more sensitive. This really brings the texture of the items to a full experience.

As stated on an autism website:

Every day, our brains interpret (understand) the things we see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and experience. But when someone's brain has trouble interpreting these things, it can make it hard to talk, listen, understand, play, and learn.

You don't have to have autism to have trouble interpreting information. That's why it's important to always take your kids' experience one step higher than the basic. Bring the feeling and ideas home to them.

As we feel the objects on our faces, I tape them up on the Tree Map with their name and label. We end the lesson here for part one. Touchy, Touchy Part Two provides and an extension with an additional exploration embedded, and the evaluation.

Closing part one

5 minutes

Since this is only half of one lesson, I do not have an evaluation activity at the end. Instead I have a closure.

I have one table at a time pack up their touch bags and place them in their mailboxes. Of course the quietest table goes first. Once all of the bags have been placed in the mailboxes, I have the table captains get the science journals for everyone at their table and pass them out.

I ask the kids to open to the next blank page in their journal and hold it up in the air. This way I can spot check who is in their journal in the correct place and who needs some help.

I demonstrate tracing my hand in my science journal (yes, the teacher should ALWAYS have a science journal, too). If you don't have a journal along with the kids, it is impossible to accomplish the I do, We do, You do modeling of teaching.

After I trace my hand, I color in the tips of my fingers and the palm of my hand where the hand is most sensitive for touch. I then draw a picture of something that I like to touch with my hands. In my case, I drew my dog and wrote the word soft.

As the kids are tracing their hands, I roam the room to assist when needed and to pick up on pertinent conversations that support our learning. Young children naturally dialogue as they learn new things. Don't waste those moments! As seen in the journal video, Chase mentions his pencil and the word sharpener. The video captures me asking him to repeat it for sharing and him making connections and using vocabulary with a little support from me.