In my five senses unit, I dedicate two lessons for each sense. The first lesson is an inquiry lesson in which the students engage in an experiment to trigger questioning and build background knowledge. The second lesson shares more information about that specific sense to help expand the students' understanding. Click here to find the second lesson.
To begin the lesson, I take a piece of chart paper and I ask the students, What do you know about your sense of sight? I record the responses on the paper. The students are a bit frustrated because they cannot come up with many things to say. That's okay. I do not prompt them. They will be learning a lot about their sense of sight and I want them to have the opportunity to see how their knowledge has grown.
This lesson is an inquiry based lesson in which the students will be conducting an experiment to give them a foundation for their learning about their sense of sight.
For this experiment, you will need the Magical Milk Recording Sheet, included as a PDF with this lesson (one copy per student) and the following supplies:
1 small plastic cake plate per student
Whole milk (enough to cover the bottom of each plate)
1 box of food coloring with the following colors: red, yellow, green and blue
1 cotton swab per student
1 small Dixie Cup with a few drops of dish detergent per student (I found that Dawn works best)
Piece of chart paper to record predictions prior to experiment
If you would like a preview of what you will be doing in this lesson, watch the YouTube video below:
I place the plate at each students' spot and pour the milk to cover the bottom of the plate. I add two drops of each food color to the milk, clustering the drops in the middle of the plate. I place the cotton swab and Dixie Cups with detergent at each spot.
I explain to the students that we are going to be using our sense of sight to observe what happens. I pass out the recording sheets, having them put their name at the top. I tell them, We are going to be scientists. We are going to use our sense of sight to observe what happens in our experiment. Right now, we need to draw a picture of what our plate looks like before we do the experiment, so I want you to use crayons to draw what the plate looks like. I have the students use only the colors that are on the plate--telling them, Pick up your blue crayon and draw on the first circle where there is blue. Now, put the blue crayon down and draw on your paper where there is red...etc
I give them time to complete this and then I say to them, Now, we are going to be adding a small amount of soap to the plate. I want you to make a really good guess about what you think will happen. When we make a good guess based on what we know it is called a prediction. So, What do you think will happen when we add the soap? I record the students answers on the paper.
I then continue with the instructions. Now, I want you to take the cotton swab and rub it in the dish soap that is in your cup. Now, touch the cotton swab to the milk and see what happens.
The students are very excited by what happens. Click here to see a video of my students doing the experiment. I allow the excitement to die down and then I say, I want you to use your sense of sight and observe how the colors in the milk changed. I want you to draw a picture of the milk.
I wait for the students to draw a picture of the milk. Some students' results recording is very "basic". Click here for example. Other students have very detailed results recorded. Click here for example. All students in the class were able to record that a change occurred.
We then clean up the experiment and get ready for discussion time.
The first thing we do is look at our predictions. We talk about which ones are correct and which ones were not. We discuss how scientists are not always right, but sometimes they learn from their mistakes.
I then ask the following questions:
What did you notice about the way the colors changed? I prompt the students with some sentence stems to help expand the students' language ("I noticed... or I saw...").
What if you couldn't see, would you be able to know what happened?
Were there any other senses that you could have used to observe the changes?
As you can see, scientists must rely on their sense of sight to give them important information about the things they are studying. We are scientists when we use our sense of sight.
Imagine if you couldn't see color. How would your life be different?
Some animals have very good eyesight to help them survive. An eagle is an animal with excellent eyesight. They can see things that are very far away. Why would it be important for eagles to have good eyesight.
After our discussion, we revisit the chart paper. I ask the students if there is anything else they want to add to the chart. I record the answers on the chart. I save the paper for our next lesson in which they will further explore their sense of sight.