What’s that Smell I Hear? A lesson in Synaesthesia ( Grades 4 and up)

Did you know the olfactory sense is capable of discriminating over 10,000 scents?  Some of the words we use to describe scents are: fruity, flowery, spicy, putrid, burnt, and rancid.  The goal of this lesson is to go beyond the limitations of the words listed above.  First, demonstrate with students how the olfactory senses flavor, by having students pinch their nostrils shut and taste a pinch of cinnamon – they should taste only a fraction of sweetness.  As soon as the nostrils are opened, they can taste the cinnamon – rather, smell it.  Next, have the students smell sulphur and ask how the odor affects them.  As the students try to describe the odor, the teacher writes those descriptions on the board, pointing out the limits we place on describing smells. Now, pass around vials of various scents and have the students describe each odor in terms of other sensory perceptions.  How does the smell feel? What are its dimensions? What is its temperature? How does it move?  Students should practice writing descriptions about 10 or 12 different smells.  Finally, students should visit some place of their choice, and write about their impressions of the place and the odors they find there.  Relaying sensations to the audience is the goal.

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