Touch N' Feel Box

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Biology In Elementary Schools is a Saint Michael's College student project from a course that ran between 2007 and 2010 and fully described in this book chapter. The student-created resources have been preserved here for posterity. Link under 'toolbox' for printer-friendly versions of the exercises. Click on handouts to print full resolution versions. Please see Wikieducator's disclaimer, our safety statement, and the Creative Commons licensing in English and in legalese.

Touch N' Feel Box

Student worthiness

This activity is fun, interactive, and easy to put together. It encourages students to use senses other than sight to record observations.

  • tried and trusted

Primary biological content area covered

  • Scientific questioning
  • Observation
  • Human Senses; particularly touch, hearing and sight (at the end)


  • Several boxes (shoe box size or slightly larger) *Make sure the box can close completely.
  • One square yard of stretchy, dark colored, spandex-like material/fabric
  • Various objects such as: a pine cone, apple, baseball, marker, hacky sack, flower, sea shell, sock, cooked spaghetti, grapes or a bunch of straws tied together. You may also create your own objects. Be creative! *Note: you will need 2 exact copies of every object.
  • Black paint (to paint the inside of the boxes) *Spray paint works best.
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors
  • Exacto-knife
  • Glue
  • Stapler
  • Flip Chart
  • Blind folds

Touch box2.jpg

Description of activity

Students will describe objects using their sense of touch and then pick out an identical object on the table.

Lesson plan

Preparation for the activity

  • In preparation for this lesson, the instructor should paint the inside of the boxes black and cut a hole in the box big enough for a student's hand to fit through. The hole may be made on the end, front or top cover. After the hole is formed, cut the stretchy fabric into a square that can go outside the box and cover the hole. Glue and staple the fabric around the outside of the hole so students cannot look through the hole and see the object. Attach the fabric on three sides leaving one edge open. Place an object inside the box and close the cover. Now, students are ready to use the box.

File:Touch box.jpg

Performing the activity

  1. Put an object into the box (away from children's sight).
  2. Have one child at a time put their hand (by sliding it underneath the fabric and into the hole) in the box to feel the object inside.
  3. Have the child describe what the object feels like.
  4. Record their adjectives and descriptions of the object on a flip chart or whiteboard.
  5. Have each child guess what the object is.
  6. Write the children's guesses on the flip chart or whiteboard.
  7. Once all of the children have generally agreed on what the object inside the box is, place different variations of the object on the table for them to see. For example, if there is a fake rose flower in each box, place several different types of fake flowers on the table in front of them.
  8. Have the children feel each of the objects on the table and pick out which one is the same as the one in the box. This should be based purely on their sense of touch.
  9. Open up the box to see if they are right.
  10. Discuss some of the similarities among the characteristics of what the students thought they felt in the box.

Potential pitfalls

  • Be sure the objects used in the boxes are not going to be harmful to the students (i.e. sharp edges, possible allergic reactions).
  • Make sure the boxes are sealed completely and the students can't see inside the box. Students had a tendency to try and look inside the box at the object.
  • Student responses may be swayed depending on their peers' answers prior to their turn. This can be prevented by having student's write their guesses on cards instead of discussing out loud.
  • The students had trouble coming up with ways of describing what they were feeling inside the boxes. It was helpful to prompt students with adjectives to help them to describe what they were feeling, a list of adjectives might be useful.
  • Students were more interested when the second set of objects were not on the table in front of them and instead described the objects and then later identified what they had felt in the boxes.

Art connections

The students could draw what they feel and make a sketch of the object before they lift the top and see if they are right. This will allow them to see how close they were.

Math connections

  • Students classify objects and further identify the exact object in their box which involves looking at proportions through touch, similarities, differences, and comparisons of object size.
  • The students could make a table or a Venn diagram to compare the characteristics of the objects.

Literature connections

  • "Me and My Senses" by Joan Sweeney teaches about senses and is an excellent source for emergent readers to learn about the body.
  • "Touch" by Patricia J. Murphy discusses the sense of touch through skin, which is the largest organ in our bodies.

English connections

The students will use adjectives to describe the objects. These adjectives can be added to an already existing word wall or used to start a new word wall. In this sense, it will be important for the kids to talk through what they are feeling in the box.

Connections to educational standards

S1-2:1 Students demonstrate their understanding of SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONING by…

  • Posing observational questions that compare things in terms of number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, motion, etc. (e.g., How fast does a Lady Beetle move compared to a Bess Beetle?).


  • Investigating and completing questions to identify a variable that can be changed (e.g., What will happen if…? or I wonder if I Change…?).


  • Generating new questions that could be explored at the end of an investigation.

S1-2:4 Students demonstrate their ability to CONDUCT EXPERIMENTS by…

  • Referring to and following a simple plan for an investigation.


  • Describing observations using senses rather than feelings (e.g., The snail has a hard shell with wavy, brown lines, rather than the snail is awesome). AND *Recording observations of similarities and differences.


  • Drawing scientifically:

a. Recording relative proportion (e.g., Eyes are approximately the right size when compared to the head) including focus on finer details, and differentiating all parts observed. b. Labeling significant aspects of a scientific drawing or diagram with words provided, c. Creating a title for a scientific drawing or diagram.


  • Recording data (in a table provided by the teacher) generated from the use of simple science equipment , as well as nonstandard and standard measurement tools.

Next steps

  • This activity could be used as part of a unit about the five senses.
  • The boxes could be set up in a public area of the school (maybe the library) where students can provide a "Guess" box. Anyone in the school can have the opportunity to feel the objects and then add their guess to the "Guess" box. After a period of time, students can record what others have guessed! This will help students contribute outside of the classroom.
  • To add difficulty: Only allow children to look at the extra objects on the table. This will force them to really focus on their sense of touch and apply it to the extra objects using their sight.
  • The boxes could be placed in the classroom permanently as a center where the objects would be changed regularly.
  • Students could take turns bringing in objects for the Touch N' Feel boxes.
  • Students could document what they thought was in each box by placing a slip of paper in an envelope next to the box and at the end of the week the class could review the guesses and find out what the object is.

Citations and links

Taken from: Charles Gutierrez's idea at

Vermont State Grade Expectations can be found at the State of Vermont Department of Education website. [1]