The Five Senses - Lesson 5: Smell
BIG IDEAS: The sense of smell helps us to enjoy life and helps us learn about
On this page
- Encountering the Idea
- Exploring the Idea
- Getting the Idea
- Organizing the Idea
- Applying the Idea
- Closure and Assessment
- List of Activities for this Lesson
Whole Group Activities
- Book: El cuento de Ferdinando by M. Leaf
- Matches; diagram of the nose; sandpaper; cinnamon stick; cutout pictures of
flowers; cotton ball or fabric; pictures or picture books of animal noses;
various pieces of food (apple, potato, orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.); four
containers with clear liquid (water, mineral oil, vinegar, alcohol)
- 10 baby food jars, each one containing a scent (alcohol, garlic powder,
onion, cinnamon, etc.) for the Science Center
- Read and discuss Ferdinando, a story of a bull who loves to smell
flowers. Identify the smells in the story. List them on a chart as pleasant and
unpleasant for use at the Writing Center.
- Give students four containers with clear liquid (water, mineral oil,
vinegar, alcohol). Students classify the content in the containers according to whether it
smells or does not smell.
- Light a match. Ask students what they smell. What does the smell tell them?
Discuss and list how the sense of smell warns us of danger. Example: smoke from
fire, bad smell in rotten foods, smell of gas from stove. Brainstorm other ways
the sense of smell helps us in times of need.
- Use pictures or picture books of animal noses and have the children name
the animal that goes with the nose.
At the Science Center:
- Students complete Activity - Using Your
- Each child opens one baby food jar at a time and sniffs. Each child places
a picture of what she thinks is inside on top of the jar. Then students compare
results and decide on the correct match after discussion.
- Working in pairs, students take turns being blindfolded and trying to
identify food substances given to eat. Next, they pinch their noses and remain blindfolded
while they eat the food (apple, potato, orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.). They
check to see which foods they could identify without smelling them.
At the Mathematics Center:
- The students graph which nose the class liked the best.
- Create sets of noses (snouts, trunks, etc.) by sorting pictures.
- Create nose patterns (with pictures or prints of noses).
At the Art Center, the students
- mix aromatic oils or extracts into tempera paints and use to paint
- rub a piece of sandpaper with a cinnamon stick. Students cut the sandpaper
into squares and punch a hole at the top of each square. They put a piece of yarn
through the hole to make a necklace. Students verbally express what a cinnamon
smell reminds them of.
- draw or trace and cut out pictures of flowers. In the center of each
flower, glue a cotton ball or fabric dipped in aromatic oil or extract. Children display
their flower garden and describe it using appropriate vocabulary related to the
senses. Students write descriptive words on butterfly cutouts and hang or staple
around the flowers. Students discuss why butterflies are attracted to flowers
At the Drama Center, the students pantomime smelling different smells such
as flowers, smoke, mud, perfume, dirty socks, rotten eggs, etc. One of the
students pantomimes one event, and a partner guesses what the smell is. They take
1. Use the diagram of the nose to explain the following about the sense of
The sense of smell is very important to a person. Our nose helps us know more
about the world we live in than we do when we just touch things and people or
just see them. We say that some things smell good and that some don't. We say
that some foods taste good and some don't. How can the nose do this?
The sense of smell starts with your nose, but it includes other parts of your
head and your brain. Let's use the example of the burning match to help us
understand how this sense works.
Here is how your nose works. When the match started to burn, tiny little
particles of ash that came from the match floated through the air. These small
pieces of material are too small for us to see, but the nose is sensitive to them
and can smell them as they travel through the air into your nose. When the small
pieces of ash "tickle" the nerve endings of the olfactory nerve, which is
like an electrical wire on a telephone, the olfactory nerve carries the message
to your brain telling it that you are smelling a burning match. This nerve is
located (here, pointing on the diagram) high up on the nasal passage. We don't
always smell an odor right away because it takes time for the small particles to
travel in the air and then into your nose to the nerve endings. When you have a
cold, and your nose is all stuffed up, why do you think you can't smell something
like perfume or taste your food?
Human beings have a very weak sense of smell. As people evolved and began to use
reason more, they didn't need to smell things quite as well as other animals did.
They could use their eyes and their brains in a different way. There is one way
your sense of smell is different from all your other senses. After sensing a
particular smell for a while, your sense of smell gets tired. When you first come
into the house, you can smell dinner cooking, but after that your olfactory nerves
get overtired and then you don't smell anything at all.
Some people develop their sense of smell for a special use. A perfume maker can
tell all the different flowers from each other by their different smells. A wine
maker has the same talent for telling wines from each other by their smell.
Smell is one of the ways we have of knowing about our world and enjoying what it
has for us. Close your eyes and smell a rose, or after a long winter, go outside.
That nice green smell tells you spring is here.
2. Discuss the use of noses by animals and by people.
3. Which senses do you use in tasting? Can you taste something if you can't smell
it? Which of the foods can you still taste even if you can't smell them?
At the Writing Center, classify the pleasant and unpleasant smells listing
them on a chart for later reference. Students choose an animal they would like to
be and fill in the frame sentence: If I were a __________ , I'd like to smell a
Present this situation to your students:
You go on a trip in your car with your family. You take sandwiches to eat, but
you stop at a restaurant to have dinner. The next day you want to eat your
sandwiches, but when you open the package, the sandwich smells "funny." What
should you do?
- How can the sense of smell warn us of danger?
- If a person is blind, how can he tell if there's a fire or other
- Why is the sense of smell so important?
- Describe the best smell and the worst smell you've experienced. How did it
make you feel?
- What part of your body do you use to smell with?
- How does the sense of smell help us enjoy life?
Using Your Nose