Help students build an awareness of their senses and test the limits of each one.
SKILLS: Children will use their sense of smell as they create and compare their very own fragrance essences.
- small brown paper bags
- foods with distinctive smells, such as pickles, chocolate, gingersnaps, and peanut butter on crackers
- experience chart paper and a marker
- a knife
- men's or women's cologne in spray bottles
- ingredients with scents, such as vanilla extract, almond extract, mint extract, maple syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon, and other spices
- clear plastic cups
- water pitchers
- plastic spoons and sealable bottles
IN ADVANCE: Prepare fragrance cups by filling each cup two-thirds with water. Add a few drops of one scent to each cup. Fill the pitchers halfway with unscented water. Place the foods in separate bags.
1 Introduce the focus on smell with a guessing game. Pass around one paper bag with food inside and invite children to take turns smelling (but not looking at) its contents. Record their ideas on experience chart paper. After each child has had a turn to guess, show the contents of the bag. Repeat the process for each bag. When all the foods have been identified, ask children how they identified each one. Talk together about foods and their distinctive smells. Finish by cutting the foods into small pieces for tasting.
2 Stand near children and spritz a little cologne into the air. (Find out ahead of time if anyone is allergic.) Then, ask children to describe the odor. Encourage them to share experiences they may have had playing with an adult's cologne or watching a family member use cologne or perfume.
3 Introduce the pre-made fragrance cups. Invite each child to smell the cups and try to guess the scents. Then, ask children to use these scents to create their own colognes. Give each child a few plastic cups and an eyedropper. Help children carefully pour water from the pitcher into their cups. Then, demonstrate how to use the eyedropper to add small amounts of scented water. Encourage children to experiment by combining different mixtures until they make the smell they like the best. When they're finished, pour the scents into plastic bottles and label with each creator's name.
For younger children: When asked to describe a scent, many threes will only tag it "good" or "bad." Help expand their vocabulary by modeling more descriptive words such as sweet, spicy, flowery, and sour.
For older children: Provide samples of the sources for each of the food items you've used for this scent activity. For example, bring in a sprig of mint, a lemon, or a cinnamon stick. see if children can match the objects in their different forms (lemon to lemon juice, cinnamon to cinnamon stick, and so on.)
Place the scent bottles in your dramatic-play area where children can use their scents on dolls, stuffed animals, or themselves when they pretend to "go out." You might want to work with children to decorate cardboard boxes that can be used as storage cabinets for the scents.
The Adventures of a Nose by Vivianne Schwarz (Candlewick, 2002; $15)
My Nose, Your Nose by Melanie Walsh (Houghton Mifflin, 2002; $15)
Nose Like a House* by Jenny Samuels (Scholastic, 2003; $13)
*To order, call 800-SCHOLASTIC