Our Senses

My Neighborhood

  • Time Length
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    1-2 hours

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

  • Cost

    Materials or Fees

  • Difficulty
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    easy

Question and Wonder:

  • I wonder if the birds I hear at the corner are the same birds I hear at my house…
  • Does the air smell the same no matter where I stand in my neighborhood?
  • Can I see my house from the next block? Will it look the same?
  • I wonder how my neighborhood looks, smells, feels, and sounds to a dog? A cat? A bird?

Go outside your house and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you, breathe in the smells. Feel the air on your skin, the ground beneath your feet. Open your eyes and look around you.

Imagine and Design:

  • What did you hear? Smell? See?
  • Do you think it will change if you walk down half a block? A whole block?
  • How will it change?
  • What was the ground like? Hard? Soft? Smooth? Uneven? Will it stay the same as I walk?
  • Do your footsteps sound differently on grass than on cement sidewalk?
  • Do you think a dog would notice the same things you do? What about a bird or cat or…?

Walk away from your house about half a block. Pay close attention to all the sensory input you are getting from your eyes, ears, nose, skin, and even your feet! Stop. Close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you, breathe in the smells. Open your eyes and look around.

Continue your walk, paying attention to all the feels and sights and smells and sounds. Stop. Close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you, breathe in the smells. Open your eyes and look around you.…keep going….turn the corner…

Test and Discuss:

  • How did things change?
  • Did you hear the same birds? How did you know?
  • Were there different smells coming from the different yards and houses? What were they?
  • Had you ever noticed that before? Why?
  • What did you feel under your feet? How did it affect sounds?
  • What impressions did you get of different places in your neighborhood?
  • Do you have a favorite spot? Why is it your favorite?
  • What about a spot that you don’t like? Why don’t you like it?

Note: You can do this activity with very small children. Take them for a walk and talk about the things you hear, smell, feel, and see. Explore the neighborhood with them.

Extension activity: Write or make up a poem about your neighborhood walk and all the things you saw, smelled, heard and felt. Draw a picture to go with it. Share it with friends or family. Talk about it. Others may see your neighborhood in a completely different way. Why do think that is?

Did you know:

Your neighborhood is a sensory rich experience for your child. They create associations with places based on that input. Maybe they walk past a parking lot with the smells of cars, oil and gas. Maybe a farmers market with the colors and smells of fruit and vegetables, dirt, the sounds of people shopping. Children develop feelings about certain places based on that sensory input without even knowing they are doing it.

Ask your child about their experience walking around the neighborhood. You might be surprised at the narrative.

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