6 Art Activities to Explore Senses

Try these 6 simple and fun art activities for kids to explore the senses and learn about synesthesia with a fun video! These activities are great for both a classroom setting and at home and can be done with children of any age. With these activities, you will be able to explore the senses and learn about something called synesthesia. All you will need is some paper, something to draw and color with, and a few things you can find around your home!

6 Art Activities to Explore Senses. 6 images of finished sensory activities. - Kidsactivities.com

Combining Senses in Art – Synesthesia

Learn about something called Synesthesia with these 6 art activities to explore the senses! Synesthesia is the experience of combining one or more senses, it is something many artists use when creating their artwork. For these art activities, we will learn about using our senses and then turning them into artwork.

What is Synesthesia?

Synesthesia, or synaesthesia, is a condition where the brain mixes up the senses.

–Kiddle Kpedia

Experiencing SYnesthesia

When you hear a song, taste food, or hear a name, have you ever compared it to a color, shape, or texture? You may be experiencing something called synesthesia!

Synesthesia is the connection of one sense to another. A great example of synesthesia I have seen is in the movie Ratatouille when Remy the rat was trying the cheese and different colors and shapes appeared along with some music in his head. Then Remy tried a strawberry and it was different colors, shapes, and music. Then Remy tried both and got a mixture of colors, shapes, and music. The video below shows this clip!

Watch this short movie clip with your kids to teach them about synesthesia!

Explore Your Senses and Make Art

You can try all 6 activities, or choose just a few. Altogether it would take about 2 hours to do all 6 activities, and one activity should be between 10 and 30 minutes. You can choose just a few activities or split them up at first, then combine all of them into a small gallery to show your friends! There will also be a short video clip from the movie Ratatouille at the end of this article. This is an amazing example of what it might feel like to experience synesthesia, to make these activities even more fun you can watch the full movie before starting.

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Materials Needed for ARt Activities

Materials needed for 6 activities to explore the senses and learn about synesthesia with video. Image of paper, markers and crayons. - kidsactivities.com
For all 6 activities, you will need these materials.
  • Paper
  • Crayons, Colored Pencils, Markers, etc.
  • A speaker or headphones
  • A snack or treat of your choice
  • Something you can smell (Coffee grounds, soap, cut grass, candles, etc.)

6 Art Activities That Explore the Senses

1 & 2. Sight: Colorful names and Shapes

Many people associate certain letters with certain colors. For this activity, the kids will write their alphabet and choose the color they feel the letter fits. An R might be red, an E might be green, and an O could be black. Then ask them to write their name, or the name of their favorite person or character and decorate it using the colors they chose from their alphabet. Then, they can decorate the space around their name.

Finished colorful name activity to explore senses and learn about synesthesia with video. Image of the name Merida in the center with each letter a different color, pink, green, red, grey, purple, and red. Surrounded by colorful bubbles, hearts, vines, and a flower. - kidsactivities.com
This is what your colorful name art might look like!

Alternatively, for younger kids, you can draw 5 or more shapes and ask them to color each shape for the color they feel a shape should be. They can also make patterns for the shapes if they want to.

Finished colorful shape art activity to explore senses and learn about synesthesia with video. Image of 6 shapes with different colors and patterns. Octagon with purple zig zags, rectangle with blue stripes, circle with yellow squiggles, square smaller rotating square pattern, triangle with red checker pattern, star with orange teardrop pattern. - kidsactivities.com
What colors would you choose for these shapes?

3. Hearing: Music art

One of the more common forms of synesthesia people experience is “seeing music”. Often when people hear music, they can “see” colors and shapes. To try this, choose a song that has no words, it can be cheerful, scary, dramatic, sad, or any other emotion you would like to try and draw. Listen to the song once with your eyes closed. Then listen to it one more time, but as you listen to it draw what you hear. You can use a pattern or path to help, or if you want to you can draw all over the paper with no specific direction or pattern. I chose to listen to “Black Rose” by J.T. Peterson because of the variety of tones used in the music.

Finished music art activity to explore senses and learn about synesthesia with video. Image of spiral, starting with small dots in center, then a line that changes colors, bigger dots, then the line breaks off into multiple different color lines. A squiggly line forms, then the line gets thicker and ends. Some white space, then it turns into big thick vertical lines and black dots changing colors, then yellow x's near the end of the spiral, more white space, then small dots again at the very end.
When you hear music, what colors and shapes do you see?

4. Touch: Texture Rubbing Art

If drawing what something might sound, taste, smell, or feel like is too difficult, you can try doing texture rubbings. This is an easy way to see the feeling of something. To make a rubbing, find an interesting texture such as the bark of a tree, bricks, a basket, or a bumpy sign. Place your paper on top of the texture, then with a crayon or pencil (Crayons work best!) rub the crayon over the paper. That texture will begin to appear on the paper! You can choose colors that you think represent the texture you are feeling. For example, the texture of a basket might be orange. Try using printer paper if the paper is too thick.

Finished texture rubbing art. Image of orange rubbing of basket, red rubbing of shelf, green rubbing of tiles, blue rubbing of wall, purple rubbing of mug, yellow rubbing of wood, pink rubbing of cup. - Kidsactivities.com
These are rubbings of a wall, basket, shelf, tiles, a mug, and a piece of wood.

5. Smell: Smell drawing

In this activity find one thing around your home that has a strong smell. It can be herbs, candles, soap, flowers, and more. Close your eyes and smell it and try and visualize what shapes and colors you see when you smell it. Then try and draw what you see while you smell this object. It can be inside a circle, the whole page, or in a pattern. Is it smooth? Pokey? Bright or dark? What colors are used?

Finished smell senses activity. It is an image of a circle, with green and yellow lines, brown squiggles, orange and brown dots, and a green blob in the center.
This is what a lemon ginger tea bag smells like (I don’t like ginger)

6. Taste: Combining flavors

Find two snacks or treats that can be eaten together. For example, bananas and chocolate, hummus and carrots, broccoli and ranch, or you can be adventurous and try something new or strange like apples and salt, Doritos and cottage cheese, or animal crackers and yogurt! Try one of these snacks or treats separately. Then try to draw any colors or shapes that you see on the left side of the paper. Then try the next food independently and do the same thing on the right side of the paper. Finally try combining both foods together in one bite and draw what that tastes like.

Finished tast activity for exploring senses with video. Image of 3 columns, left is yellow teardrops, pink, red, and grey dots going up. The right column is brown, yellow, orange, blue, and purple squiggles and teardrops, with green dots. The center column is a mix of both the left and right column designs.
The left side is an apple, the right side is peanut butter, and the center is both!

What is it like to Experience Synesthesia?

More Art and activities to Explore senses

What did you learn making art through exploring your senses?

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