Standards and Objective
Children need to make many connections with words in order to truly comprehend their meanings. This vocabulary activity will encourage children to sniff out some new words for smells and smelling and connect new information and associations to common concepts.
- A variety of aromatic items (such as cinnamon, chocolate, lemon, orange, rose, vanilla, coffee, garlic, soap, mint, lavender, pine needles, etc.) in small unmarked containers, covered and arranged on a table*
- Scarf or other item to use as a blindfold
- Vocabulary Bug graphic organizer
*Keep in mind any allergies children might have when selecting aromatic items.
- The Stolen Smell
- The Baker’s Smell (song)
- Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night
- Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch
- King Solomon and The Smell of Bread
- The Little Red Hen
After having listened to a story, such as The Stolen Smell, ask listeners if they know other words that also mean “to smell” or “a smell.” Introduce words like aroma, scent, whiff, odor, fragrance, stench. Write the words where all the children can see them and ask which of these words they associate with “good” or “bad” smells.
Explain that each child is going to get a chance to identify a smell without seeing what is making the smell. Each child will get a turn being blindfolded and asked to smell and identify what’s in one of the containers. Reinforce the vocabulary discussed earlier by asking the blindfolded child to “sniff” or “whiff,” identify the “scent” or “odor”, or indicate if it is a pleasant “aroma.”
After everyone has had a turn, ask children to keep their smells in mind and to share other descriptive words as they answer questions like:
- What could you say besides “it smells good” or “it smells bad?”
- How does the smell make you feel?
- What are more precise words to use when something smells “funny?” (pungent, sour, rotten)
- How do smells move? (waft, float, linger)
- What words can describe the source of a smell? (baking, rotting, cleaning)
Add these words to your original list as the discussion progresses.
Next, provide each child with a vocabulary graphic organizer. Ask each child to think about the smell he identified and select the one word from the descriptive word list the group generated that best describes his word. Have each child use resources like a dictionary to complete the graphic organizer with the word, its definition, examples, related words, synonym, antonym, personal connection, part of speech, and to use the word in a sentence. When the graphic organizer is complete, give each child a chance to smell his smell again and introduce his smell and word to the group. Give everyone an opportunity to compare and contrast all the smells and descriptive words.
Extensions and Variations
Encourage children to cook up their own aromatic tale about the theft of a smell. Ask them to think about their own favorite smells. Where can that smell be found? Who or what creates the smell? Why would anyone want to keep the smell from you or ask for payment for enjoying the smell? What could they do to avoid “stealing” the smell? Plan for time for children to illustrate their writing. Consider making their stories even more aromatic by including an actual fragrance using scratch and sniff stickers, perfumes or essential oils or various spices sprinkled on a small patch of liquid glue.
Instead of, or in addition to smelling words, do the activity using “hearing” words and substitute sounds for the containers of aromatic items. Make your own sounds using household items, starting with the jangling of coins as described in The Stolen Smell, or create a playlist using sound effects from FreeSound (www.freesound.org), such as the sound of a spray bottle, a button click, a hinge opening, etc.
Vocabulary includes the words known to an individual person and the words they use to communicate. Oral vocabulary refers to words used in spoken language or those recognized by listening. Students are exposed to both familiar and new words in the thousands of titles available in the Tales2go catalog. When students hear unfamiliar words within the context of a story, read by professional storytellers, this experience enables them to add a more robust bank of words to their personal vocabulary. Learners may also hear familiar words used in a new and different ways, making it easier to recognize them in other media, from street signs to newspapers to novels.