.............................................................................................................................................................

 

.............................................................................................................................................................


The Sense of Smell

by Linda Little

“What is in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare

Lesson: Smells: What are they good for? (Great descriptive writing, for one!)

Purpose: To make students more aware of their sense of smell and the role it can play in descriptive writing.

Audience: Middle school students, but it could be adapted to almost any grade level.

Materials:

  • Sample descriptive paragraphs using the sense of smell. (Provided)
  • Highlighters
  • Chalkboard and chalk or white board and dry erase markers
  • 10 or more paper or plastic cups with lids. (Do not use clear plastic cups, you can see the object inside and it makes guessing too easy!)
  • 10 or more different scented objects. (Cotton balls soaked in “smelly” things also work well)
  • “Learning About The Sense Of Smell” chart (Provided)
  • Or make up your own chart to get the information you want students to focus on.
Lesson Plans: (May be done in one long period, or spread over two days)
1st activity
  • Ask students “What are your favorite smells?” List as many as you can on a piece of paper in two minutes.
  • Turn to a partner. Read your lists out loud. Note what you have in common (if any). One person from each pair come to the board and write down your combined list (you and your partner’s without listing anything more than once). 5 – 10 minutes
  • Look at the board. What are some similarities? Teacher puts a check next to smells that appear in multiple lists. Does anything stand out? Why do you think that is? Discuss. 2 – 5 minutes
  • Smells evoke emotions and memories. They can make us hungry, say, happy, or lonely. Choose one smell from the board (it can be from any list) and free write about any memories or emotions it may stir up for 10 minutes.
  • Share what you have written with your partner. 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Volunteer share their writing with entire class. 5 – 10 minutes.


2nd activity
  • Descriptive writing examples. Class takes turns reading three short descriptive paragraphs out loud. (Examples included in packet). Each paragraph uses the sense of smell differently.
  • After reading paragraphs, pass out one highlighter to each student.
  • Students highlight specific words and phrases that add to the “flavor” of the paragraphs. What do they find? What specific memories or emotions are attached to them?
  • Volunteers share what they highlighted with class. 10 –15 minutes for entire activity.
  • Collect highlighter pens.

3rd activity
  • Hand out “Learning about the sense of smell” chart. (see PDF of chart)
  • Read what is at top of each column.
  • Tell students they will each be trying to guess the contents of 10 cups. (Made by teacher ahead of time) They are to take the cup, close their eyes, sniff carefully, record their reactions on the chart, and pass the cup on. They do not need to fill in every box on the chart, but they should try. (Or you may limit how many boxes to fill in if short on time)
  • Each person should only have any one cup for a few seconds.
  • Students are not to talk during the activity or give any indication that they recognize the scents.
  • This activity could take 15-20 minutes or more depending on the number of students.
  • When finished, students will share their chart with a partner. Which smells had the most positive emotions attached to them? Which were negative? Which were the hardest to identify? 5 minutes
  • Teacher reads correct identities of smells to class from master list.
2 minutes
  • Retrieve all cups and put away

4th activity
  • Students choose one smell from their chart and do a free write from the point of view of that object. For example, if the scent were rose they would write from the perspective of a rose or a bottle of rose perfume. You could also just have students choose a smell and use the information from their chart to do a free write on it from any perspective. 10- 15 minutes
  • Volunteers share what they’ve written with class. 5 minutes

Follow up:
Students add to their free write material and develop one that
may turn into a finished piece to be place in their writing
portfolio. Make a “smelly” bulletin board displaying work!


Example paragraphs: sense of smell

#1
They said it was Alicia’s blanket, but she knew it wasn’t. It didn’t have the chocolate spot that she liked to hold close to her face just before falling asleep. It didn’t fill her nose with sweet, dark birthday cake, or the bite of lemon juice from the splash that had fallen on one edge when Mommy was washing her hair that time. It didn’t even have that soft, warm scent that told Alicia she was home in her own bed. All it held was soap and flowers. Who wanted to go to bed with soap and flowers?

#2
Lou stopped just inside the door and stared for a moment at the shiny blue jacket folded over the arm of the sofa. No sound came from the darkened kitchen, but there was something in the air...a hint of lilacs, and the comforting aroma of hickory pipe tobacco. Immediately, excitement welled up inside Lou’s chest. He was home! Dad was home again!

#3
So Great-Aunt Martha was coming for her yearly visit? Great. The woman worked in a cat food cannery, handling half-rotten tuna. Terrified of offending someone with her breath, she ate cinnamon drops by the truckload, popping them into her mouth with hands that reeked of dead fish. Vicky had a flashing memory of cinnamon-stinking kisses and fish-stinking hugs and wanted to throw up.
Copyright. 1992 Arlene Marks and Bette Walker http://www.summit-ed.com




Resources:

Ackerman Aoyama, Sara. The Role of the Sense of Smell in Language Learning.
Vermont: School for International Training, 1996. http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcc_conf96/aoyama.html.

Marks, Arlene and Bette Walker. Let Them Write –Descriptive Writing. 1992.
http://www.summit-ed.com/f-ltwdsml.html

Silverstein, Robert. Smell, the Subtle Sense. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1992.

Vroon, Piet. Smell: The Secret Seducer. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.

Weiss, Ellen. The Nose Knows. New York: The Kane Press, 1992.