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Eyes and Seeing Lesson

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.


This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. Make an edible model of an eye, dissect a cow eyeball, visit an eye doctor, and more! My lessons are geared toward 3rd-4th grade level children and their siblings. This lesson was created by another creative mom to do with our weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 14 children between the ages of 0-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, after school program, camp, or co-op!

Acting out the story of Saul/Paul's conversion

Acting out the story of Saul/Paul's conversion

Introduction & Saul's Conversion

1) Stretch. Pray. Read Luke 24:39. Review five senses.

2) Read about Saul/Paul's conversion & act it out (Acts 9:1-31). Teacher/Parent reads the passage while the children act it out.

YOU WILL NEED: 4 towels for children to wear over their heads, a robe, a stick horse (donkey), and any additional props of your choosing

Using a drawstring to demonstrate how the pupil works

Using a drawstring to demonstrate how the pupil works


3) Read "Look!" by Dana Rau.

YOU WILL NEED: the book "Look!" by Dana Rau

4) Check peripheral vision. Look at one another's iris and pupils. Show how a drawstring works (used drawstring pants) & compare it to iris & pupil.

5) Divide into 2 groups. Go into the bathroom & turn out the lights. Count to 30. Have each person take a turn standing in front of the mirror. Turn on the flashlight & let them watch their pupils dilate. Alternatively, you can simply have a child close his/her eyes for 10 seconds and then open them.

YOU WILL NEED: 1 pair drawstring pants & at least 2 flashlights

Book to read for activity 3

Edible eye balls

Edible eye balls

Edible Eyeballs

6) Make Edible Eyeballs: Pass out one peeled orange or clementine to each child. Have them stick their finger into the open groove at the end of the orange (sclera). Insert a gummy fruit (the lens). Then insert an olive (iris) in front of the fruit snack. Point out that the hole in the olive "iris" is the pupil. On the back end of the orange, insert a red licorice sting (optic nerve). Cover the orange with plastic wrap (cornea). Go through each of the eye parts and what they represent. Point out that we see the sclera as pure white, while inside, there is a network of movement occurring. The orange with its veins and grooves remind us of how the inside would appear if we could see it. The orange is filled with juice just like the eyeball is filled with vitreous humor, a jelly-like liquid that helps it keep its shape. If you squeeze an orange (have one to demonstrate), a liquid comes out. This liquid would be aqueous humor. Let the children remove the "cornea" and divide the "sclera" and eat it along with all the other parts. (Another creative mom replaced the green olive with a slice of pitted cherry. Eventually the orange started to turn pink. This led to a discussion of how viruses such as conjunctivitis/pink eye spread.)

YOU WILL NEED: Per child: 1 oranges (peeled but kept whole), 1 gummy fruit, 1 green olive slice, 1 string of licorice, 1 piece of plastic wrap, 1 paper plate, & 1 napkin and/or baby wipe

Dissecting a cow eyeball

Dissecting a cow eyeball

Dissect Cow Eyeballs

7) Dissect cow eyeballs. Follow these directions from We divided children into groups of 3. We were all a bit squeamish at first, but after we started cutting, it became so fascinating that we were no longer grossed out. Everyone loved doing this and it really helped us learn about the parts of the eye and how God makes it work.

YOU WILL NEED: 1 pair of extra-small latex gloves (per child), 1 garbage bag (to cover clothing) (per child) IF you're working with younger children who might wipe their hands off on their clothing, at least 1 cow eyeball (We bought ours from a local butcher. Be sure to order it ahead of time! You can also order them on-line at places like, 1 hard plastic disposable plate per cow eyeball, 1 cutting utensil (sharp scissors, exacto knives or eyebrow shapers - sold in the cosmetics department at Wal-Mart will work), 4 pairs of small sharp scissors, newspaper to cover the table, antibacterial hand wipes, and a strong stomach *Please watch this on-line video before co-op to prepare you for dissecting the cow eyeball.*

8) Clean up & review what we've learned.

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9) (Optional) Briefly discuss why some people need to wear contacts or glasses. Pass around a pair of old contact lenses and glasses to let children look at them and feel them. After a while the children will discover that the contact lenses dry out. You can mention that this is what would happen to our eyes if we didn't blink. Blinking helps keep our eyes moist and clean.

YOU WILL NEED: old contact lenses and glasses

Showing tests for colorblindness at the eye doctor

Showing tests for colorblindness at the eye doctor

Field Trip to the Eye Doctor

10) Drive over to the Wal-Mart Vision Center (or your local eye doctor) for a field trip. We scheduled this over a month ago and asked an eye doctor that I already use. They walked the children through the steps of what happens when you get your eyes checked out and how all the machines work.

More of our favorite picture books on Eyes & Sight

Young Genius: Eyes by Kate Lennard is a longer picture book that goes through the parts of the eye and how it works. My children liked that the book is told from the perspective of a (very intelligent) child. Look at Your Eyes (Let's-Read-and-Find Out Science Book) by Paul Showers provides great information in a picture book format. My children really enjoyed this! The Illuminating World of Light with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science) by Emily Sohn is kind of a like a more advanced Magic School Bus book written in comic book format. My boys love this series! Eye: How It Works by David Macaulay goes through how eyes work as it follows children playing a game of soccer. It includes most of the vocabulary words related to eyes. Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins is a longer picture book about how eyes vary from one animal to the next. Unfortunately, it has a heavy emphasis on evolution. We skipped those parts and changed words when needed. Light(First Discovery Books) by Scholastic Books has excellent illustrations and fun, see-through pages. It goes through various aspects of light that can be seen in nature. Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog (Hello Reader!, Level 4) by Eva Moore is the true story of the first seeing eye dog.

Using cup phones to learn how sound waves travel during the first lesson in this unit study on hearing and sound waves

Using cup phones to learn how sound waves travel during the first lesson in this unit study on hearing and sound waves

Build a crawl-through ear as you study hearing, play scales on water glasses as you study music and sound, dissect a cow eyeball as you study sight, try to identify mystery objects simply by their smell, present on various aspects of the five senses, and more during this 4 lesson hands-on unit study of the five senses!

  • Hearing and Sound Waves Lesson - This is part 1 of a 4 part hands-on thematic unit on the five senses. Build and crawl through a model of an ear, watch sound waves at work, make paper cup phones, use a stethoscope and otoscope, and more!
  • Music and Instruments Lesson - This is part 2 of a 4 part hands-on unit study on the five senses. See the inside of a piano and how it works, study pitch while playing water glasses, test out different instruments, and more!
  • Eyes and Seeing Lesson - This is part 3 of a 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. Make an edible model of an eye, dissect a cow eyeball, visit an eye doctor, and more!
  • Touch, Smell, & Taste Lesson in Five Senses Unit - This is part 4 of a 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. Feel, smell, and taste mystery items, make a touch and feel book, and more!
  • Five Senses Culminating Project and Field Trip Ideas - This is the culminating project for the 4 part hands-on unit on the five senses. The students created presentations on people and ideas related to the 5 senses and shared 5 Senses-themed snacks and desserts. (Recipes are included.) Also included is where we went for field trips during this unit.

Looking for all of my unit studies and lessons?

Over the years I have posted over 40 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

Bill Nye on the Eye

How we see color

How glasses help correct vision

Konos Volume I

Konos Volume I

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful curriculum and was created by moms with active boys! This lesson is based on activities found in the Attentiveness Unit Study found in Konos Volume I.

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!

Comments, Questions, or Ideas? - Let me know you dropped by! Was this lens helpful? Do you have any questions, comments, or additional ideas? Please post here!

Shannon (author) from Florida on October 02, 2012:

@SnoopyGirl1: Great link! Thank you for sharing it!

SnoopyGirl1 on February 03, 2012: This link is to a virtual eye dissection for the more faint of heart. As I couldn't get my kids to dissect a cow eye. LOL!

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