Nature Near You: Week Three Features Sensory Systems

by Nicole Finnicum

Participants learned to journal using all of their senses.

The third week of Nature Near You, Sanibel Sea School’s e-newsletter, featured a week-long unit on sensory systems.

Through emails delivered at 9am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Nature Near You participants explored different sensory systems through at-home activities, such as testing their sense of smell, mapping taste buds, and creating sensory journals.

On Monday, Marine Science Educator Sam Nowinski shared a lesson on the olfactory system, which allows us to perceive odors with specialized organs in the nose. To better explore this sense, she led participants through a blind sniff test to see how accurate their sense of sense of smell was. This is a great experiment that families can do together to try and see if everyone can identify common smells in their households like lemon, flowers, garlic, and anything that can be found in backyards!

Wednesday’s Tuesday’s e-newsletter featured the gustatory system, or better known as our sense of taste. This issue focused on the different tastes that our taste buds can perceive, including salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. We created a taste bud sensitivity challenge to help map these tastes by identifying the parts of the tongue that were most sensitive to each taste. Some of our educators played along and did their own taste challenges and shared it on the Sanibel Sea School’s YouTube channel.

On Friday, our team created an all-encompassing sensory experience through sense journaling. This activity is similar to nature journaling, but focuses on our sensory systems. Participants used their nature journals or a simple piece of paper and pen and sat outside in nature, focusing on each sense for 10 minutes at a time. Within those 10 minutes, participants wrote down everything they experienced using each sense – it is surprising the number of things that we experience thorough our senses in just a short time. While working through this exercise, before we knew it, we spent about an hour outside in nature, which was a great way soak up some sun and fresh air.

Exploring our senses was another way to use this quarantined time as an opportunity to slow down and enjoy nature. The things we learned during this week in Nature Near You can be taken to the great outdoors and used to have a deeper connection with nature.

We encourage each and every one of you to go outside, breathe in the smells, take in the sights, and feel your surroundings and allow nature to stimulate all of your senses!

Nature Near You will continue throughout the school closures and be delivered via email. If you are interested in joining the mailing list, please email If you missed out on an issue of Nature Near You, all of the content can be accessed at

Nature Near You is Sanibel Sea School’s offering to the community. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit ( or email for more information!

Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.

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