Sunday, March 3, 2019

Activities for Exploring the Five Senses

by Catharine Hannay

"We must make ourselves sensitive and present to all... the ordinary, everyday things, that have stopped attracting our attention.. an apple, a shoe, a blade of grass, a telephone... This is easy to do; it requires just three things: 
  • wanting it (wanting to exist in the real world rather than a virtual world that is impoverished by our narrowed attention);  
  • allowing it (having decluttered our mind and expanded our awareness); and  
  • doing it (raising our head, opening our eyes and really looking)." 
from Looking at Mindfulness by Christophe AndrĂ©

Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels 

I hope you and your students enjoy the following approaches to mindfully seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling. Depending on what type of class you teach, you might ask them to discuss, write about, or draw a picture of what they experienced. 

Activities  at

Blue-Red-Yellow: What Do You See? What you see depends on what you're looking for.
Counting Sounds: A Mindful Walking Practice: This activity combines mindful listening with gentle movement. 
A Dozen Ways to Explore the Five Senses, including 10 Ways to Look at a Tree, as well as three activities for mindful tasting and sniffing.
Four More Ways to Focus on the Five Senses: Baby Touch, The Sense of Scents, and two mindful eating practices.
Five Contemplative Art Practices: Looking at and creating art can help us to focus on our surroundings and appreciate what we see. 

Five Senses Snack: A Mindful Eating Chart: Rather than mindlessly munching your favorite snack, you can focus on what you see, feel, taste, smell, and even hear. 
Mindful Listening in a Noisy World: practicing awareness of sounds and silence, from Ira Rabois, author of Compassionate Critical Thinking. 
Mindful Moments in Nature: This lesson by Bianca Browne of Mindful Minis includes tactile awareness, breath awareness, mindful listening, and a mindful art project. 

Noticing the Five Senses: A Daily Mindfulness Log: This chart helps us focus on what we see, hear, taste, smell, and touch throughout the week. 

Rainbow Walk: A Mindfulness Activity to Move the Body and Rest the Mind: This is the most popular activity here at Mindful Teachers, for self-care and for teaching mindfulness to all ages. 

Red, Orange, Yellow: A Mindful Driving Practice: This is how I focus on my surroundings and keep my mind from wandering while I'm driving.

Even More Activities

Mindfulness and the Art of Chocolate Eating from MindSpace/Meditation in Schools: Who could resist? Just make sure nobody in your group is allergic to chocolate!
Listening Deeply to Music: Music therapist Maya Benattar explains how to listen to music mindfully, to "really hear it and experience it on a deep level... really hear and notice all of its complexities, layers, and subtleties."
Sensory Awareness Practice from the Stanford University Mindfulness Programs, with a downloadable handout. 
15 Five Senses Activities from Play to Learn Preschool

And these books have many five senses activities, as well as a variety of other approaches to practicing mindfulness.
For personal practice, or if you teach adults: 
How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays
For those of you who teach kids: 
Child’s Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children Be More Focused, Calm, and Relaxed by Dr. Christopher Willard
Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community 


Related posts:

Marble Roll: A Noncompetitive Game for Teaching Mindfulness 

Mindfulness, Creativity, and the Five Senses (interview)