Saturday, May 21, 2011

Through the Senses


Usually you hear about learning through the five senses--sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

mudpie kitchen

Yes, Lucy will dig her hands in the sand and put rocks in her mouth. She smells flowers and listens to the chickens peeping their hearts out as she picks them up (yep, Lucy has already figured out how to catch a chicken). Her eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and hands are amazing tools that help her figure out the world around her.

makeshift slide

But when I really watch Lucy, I see something else. I see her using her whole body to sense and interact with the world. There is something else at work here, something big and physical and more than a collection of the five senses at work at one time. No, there are more than just five senses.

hanging out in the garden

I see Lucy using her body to figure out balance, gravity, motion, direction and I'm sure a million other things I could never name. She climbs, she swings, she does circus tricks (really, you need to see what this girl can do on a tire swing). She like heights, she likes motion, she likes speed and sudden drops and she likes to jump and spin. She likes to put her body to work and feel it move. I suspect she likes the feeling of the wind in her face, and the feeling of your heart dropping into your stomach for that brief moment before you realize you are safe and secure on the ground after all. I bet she'll love roller coasters, and motorcycles too if Lyle can sneak that by me.

my crazy kids

To be technical about it, I think Lucy has a keen awareness of the vestibular sense (which deals with sensing movement and balance, among other things) and the kinesthetic sense (which deals with the parts of your body in relation to each other, knowing where your left foot is even when your eyes are closed to put it simply). To put it in a non-technical way, Lucy uses her entire body, and her awareness of her body and all its parts, to experiment with her environment.

Wait, that still sounds too technical. Let's go back to what I said before:

But when I really watch Lucy, I see something else. I see her using her whole body to sense and interact with the world.

Let's just call it the whole person sense--the whole person in the world, figuring stuff out.

*And just because I find this interesting, I wanted to mention that I first heard about the vestibular sense through my passion for babywearing. Babywearing (carrying your baby in a sling) helps develop your baby's vestibular sense. All that being carried about in a sling, sensing the movement of the caregiver's step, being jostled about, etc. helps develop a baby's sense of balance, motion, and much more. That's not the only reason to babywear, but it is an interesting one and you can read more about it in Our Babies, Ourselves.


  1. Reminds me of her big brother!

  2. Great post and great pictures! The little ones are such smart and capable beings!

    happy day!

  3. Annie, I love your new blog.