Explore with your senses: Touch
Are you ready to get in touch with your inner sensory explorer? That’s perfect, ‘cause we’re exploring with our senses! We’ve already looked into the fun ways we can play with and test our senses of sight, sound and smell. If you missed them, check them out here!
We’re continuing our journey through the senses with the super sense of touch. Our sense of touch is amazing, and we feel so many sensations on a daily basis – whether it’s the weight of a warm coat, the wind whistling through our fingers or, of course, the feel of the ground underfoot while tiptoeing past a den full of enemy spies! We use our sense of touch all the time, even when we don’t realise it!
But there’s more to our sense of touch than we realise, and more ways we can play with it and test it out for fun! Check out our fun facts and sensory activities that will help you explore with your sense of touch.
Sensational facts about touch
There are lots of cool things you may not know about your sense of touch.
- There are four types of touch receptors – one for detecting vibrations, one for slippage, once for when the skin stretches, and one for super subtle textures (like a light touch of a feather).
- Parts of the human body process touch differently from others – your lips, tongue, and fingers have more touch receptors than your back or belly and are more sensitive to touch.
- Like your other senses, you start to lose your sense of touch as you age. It peaks in your late teens and then weakens by roughly 1% each year after that.
- The same touch can feel differently depending on the situation – that’s because your brain isn’t just tapping into the touch sensation but also the emotional context. That’s why it can feel different when you hug a close relative compared to hugging a friend or a stranger.
- Some people are ‘touch blind’ and can’t register the texture, shape or size of objects by touch alone. However, some still register the emotional effects of contact with a loved one.
But what about touch in the rest of nature?
Animals rely on their sense of touch for a lot more than we do, including navigating and communicating!
- While whiskers on animals don’t technically feel anything, they can be used to detect movement and texture, amongst other things, through vibrations that travel down to the motion detectors in the hair follicle.
- Elephants use vibrations from stomping their feet to communicate with each other. When other elephants feel these vibrations, it may alert them to predators, reveal romantic interest or make them aware of territorial claims.
- It’s not just animals, though; plants can feel a touch too! The Mimosa pudica – known as the sensitive plant – folds its leaves at night and when they’re touched. Meanwhile, the Venus Flytrap closes around its prey when it feels them crawl on its leaves.
Explore with touch at home
There are tonnes of ways that you can explore with your sense of touch at home, whether indoors or in your garden. Try these activities out!
Activity #01: That feels funny!
Gather several small, interestingly shaped or textured objects and place them all in a bag. Have each sensory explorer in your household reach inside the bag and feel each object, one at a time, describing what they’re touching, its texture, its shape and, eventually, what they think it is.
Ensure they don’t take the object out of the bag, forcing them to use only their sense of touch to explore the objects. The objects can only be removed at the end to show them exactly what they were describing and if they got it right.
To make it more of a challenge, you could switch to larger objects by blindfolding them and leading them around the house to explore bigger pieces, again explaining what they are feeling and what they think it is.
Activity #02: Smooth, soft, spiky… sensational!
Task your explorers with a sensory scavenger hunt around your home or garden, focussing on textures, shapes and feelings.
Write up a list of 10 objects you want to find – something hard, something soft, something light, something pointy and so on. Task them with gathering one of each object and placing them in a bag.
Once the scavenger hunt is complete, ask them to show you each item one by one, explaining how it feels and why they picked it out. You could then ask them to think of two other objects with the same texture and see what they come up with.
Activity #03: Get in touch with your inner artist
Let’s get crafty! Artwork doesn’t have to be something that’s just looked at – it’s far more fun when it contains interesting textures to explore with your hands!
Gather your craft supplies and task your sensory explorers with creating a collage. The final image can be whatever you would like, but it must feature at least three different textures. You could use crinkled crepe paper, 3D glue drawings, salt or sand art, pasta shapes, pom poms, googly eyes… whatever your imaginations feel like!
If your craft supplies are limited to paint and paper, and you don’t mind getting a bit messy, then finger painting is a great alternative! You can experience the feeling of the paint on your fingers and how different pressured touches can create different lines on the paper.
What a puzzling sense…touch!
For touch, your puzzle involves working out who at TT Towers got their mucky mitts on the cookie jar! Simply match the fingerprint found on the jar to identify the cookie thief. Solve the just-for-fun puzzle, then find the answer below. Good luck!
Make ’em laugh!
Feel around for booby traps on a Treasure Trail!
Now that you’ve challenged yourselves to some fun sensory activities, it’s time to test your sense of touch on a Trail adventure! Use it to keep a firm grip on your top-secret notes so enemy agents don’t pinch them, to feel around for vital evidence and to stay aware of the perilous terrain beneath your feet as you trek through uncharted areas.
But, while you’re out and about, try to stay conscious of everything you’re feeling at the different textures that surround you – you don’t even need to physically touch them to experience them! Whether it’s smooth petals and leaves, engraved plaques, or rushing water by the sea or river. Wait… do you feel that rumbling? A booby trap has been triggered!
Wow - you really are sensory explorers now!
Our journey through the senses may be over, but you can still go back and test out your skills as a qualified sensory explorer. Follow this link to keep exploring the five senses.
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