Sensory Butterfly Garden

Nicole Hyvare, Garlough Environmental Magnet School, West St. Paul, MN
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In this activity we use our butterfly garden that the students built to investigate the natural world using inquiry and their senses. The students will draw or write what they observe. The students will use their senses and some simple tools, such as: magnifying glasses, unifix cubes, rulers, etc. to describe their garden. They will have a guided sheet to write/draw on, a clipboard, pencil and crayons.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to :
1. Observe and describe the garden using simple tools
2. Share what they "sensed" (what they think, see, feel, hear, smell, touch, taste and wonder about)
3. Be aware of their environment
4. Raise questions about the natural world

Context for Use

This activity is done outside (typically in a garden of some sorts). The class size is around 20 with one teacher. It was made for kindergarten. In this activity it is easiest to have each student take a clipboard, activity sheet, pencil and have 5 ice cream buckets of crayons for students to share. You should plan on being outside for 25 minutes.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

After we have done some activities with 5 senses and have built our butterfly garden, we go outside to do this activity. Around our garden we have stumps/logs to sit on and I give the students an activity sheet. (The activity sheet has handwriting lines on the bottom that say: In my garden... I see(picture of an eye)________I smell(nose)_____I taste(tongue)_______I feel(hand)______I hear(ear)______; there is also room for the students to draw what they observe. The students are told to write/draw what they hear/see/smell/taste/touch in the garden. I walk around during this and ask what they are observing and why do you think...what does this make you think of...what can you tell about...what do you wonder? After spending some good time outside we go back inside and share our observations. On a piece of chart paper I write down at least one observation from each student and we discuss the environment of the garden. You could adapt this lesson to another focused area and let the students do a wonder wander(exploration walk).

Teaching Notes and Tips

Some helpful inquiry guidance questions are: What does this make you think of? What can you tell me about the things you see/hear/taste/feel/smell? What materials did you use? (5 senses or any simple tools?)


Assessment will be the paper the student worked on while outside and what information they gathered. It will also be my observations from outside while they were working and answers to inquiry questions or questions they come up with.


The students will understand that people have five senses that can be used to learn about the environment IV. Life Science G. Human Organism, benchmark: The student will observe and describe the environment using 5 senses. The students will raise questions about the natural world, I. History and Nature of Science, B. Scientific Inquiry

References and Resources