Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Can You Sense Scents?

Becky Peltonen
Bay District Schools


During this hands-on lesson, students will use their sense of smell to identify familiar scents.


The student knows that the five senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) allow us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings.


- 12 empty opaque film canisters, with no lids (donated by local film developers)
- 12 coffee filters cut into 3-inch diameter circles
- 12 rubber bands
- Super Sniffer Picture Cards (See associated file)
- Answer Key (See associated file)
- Overhead transparency sheet
- Overhead projector
- Cherry extract (1 T.)
- Coconut extract (1 T.)
- Orange juice or extract (1 T.)
- Peppermint extract (1 T.)
- Banana extract (1 T.)
- Lemon juice or extract (1 T.)
- Pickle juice (1 T.)
- Pine-sol, diuted if too strong (1 T.)
- Peanut butter (1-2 T.)
- Coffee beans (8-10 beans)
- Garlic powder (1-2 T.)
- Ground cinnamon (1-2 T.)
- 24 cotton balls
- Book: [Forest Friends Five Senses] by Cristina Garelli, Knopf Publishing, ISBN: 037581308X (November 13, 2001)


1. Put two cotton balls in empty film canister. Saturate with cherry extract. Cover canister with coffee filter and seal with rubber band. Write a numeral on the bottom of the film canister. Next to the corresponding number on the Answer Key, write cherry extract.
2. Repeat the same process for all other liquids.
3. With regards to the powders, peanut butter and coffee beans, simply place these materials on top of the cotton balls in the canisters, cover and seal. Number as above.
4. Duplicate Super Sniffer Picture Cards onto overhead transparency sheet.
5. Check with parents regarding allergies to certain smells and make changes as needed.


Note: This lesson addresses the sense of smell only as one of the five senses.

1. During circle time, read aloud the book [Forest Friends Five Senses]. The story ends with a smelly situation involving a skunk. This leads into a lesson on smell as one of the five senses.

2. Review the five senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound) with the students and remind them that information around us is sent to our brains via our senses.

3. Tell the students that we are able to smell things by breathing in scents and aromas through the nose.

4. Pass out film canisters, one at a time, and have children predict what they smell. (See Preparations.)

5. When all canisters have circulated and have been collected, project Super Sniffer Picture Cards overhead sheet onto screen or wall.

6. Allow individual children to smell individual canisters and identify the scent by placing the canister on the matching picture on the overhead projector. Continue until all canisters have been smelled and placed.

7. Check for correctness by lifting canister, reading number on the bottom, and confirming with Answer Key.

8. Repeat if necessary for all children to have a turn.

9. During both exercises, question children about the sense they are using and the body part performing the function.


Students will use their sense of smell to identify common scents. Teacher will use formative assessment and informal observations while questioning students during activity to determine understanding of concept. When asked, students must be able to state the sense they are using to obtain information.


Super Sniffer Picture Cards can be duplicated, colored, mounted and sealed onto tagboard. The hard copy and Answer Key can be placed in a learning center for studentsí independent use. Other squares on the associated file allow for addition of other scents (grape, pineapple, rose)
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