Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Smells Like Christmas, Exploring the Nose

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


In this lesson, students learn that the sense of smell helps us to enjoy life and learn about unsafe conditions. Students will smell Christmas by making gingerbread ornaments.


The student identifies safe and unsafe behaviors.

The student knows and accepts the differences of people with special health needs.

The student understands that illustrations reinforce the information in a text.

The student knows that learning can come from careful observation.

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.

The student understands that history tells the story of people and events of other times and places.


-Charts of "Singing the Senses," "Five Senses of Christmas," and Santa Fingerplay (from day 2 and 3)
-Gingerbread Man poem (see Associated File)
-[The Story of Ferdinand] by Leaf and Lawson, Viking Press, 1985
-[Smell] by Ruis, Barrons Juveniles, 1985 (or any other book about the sense of smell)
-[Scratch and Sniff Christmas] by Shott and Gant, DK Publishing, 2001 (or any other scratch and sniff book)
-Chart paper
-4 empty film canisters
-Stick of cinnamon
-Orange peel
-Candy cane
-Piece of a real Christmas tree
-Gingerbread man cookie cutter
-White glue
-Bowl for mixing
-Spoon for mixing
-Gingerbread Men Ornament recipe (see associated file)
-Wax paper
-6 gingerbread men patterns
-Brown construction paper (enough for each student)
-Scissors (one for each student)
-Santa Bear, Santa Bear, Use Your Five Senses (see extensions)


1. Gather film canisters. (Photo stores will give you what you need for free) Poke several holes in the top. Then put a stick of cinnamon, orange peel, twig off a live Christmas tree, and a candy cane inside of the canisters. Label them 1-4.

2. Cut out six Gingerbread boy patterns. (See Associated file.)

3. You need brown construction paper and scissors for each child.

4. Copy the Gingerbread recipe. Remember this recipe makes enough for 6 gingerbread men, so increase the ingredients for your class size. (See Associated file)

5. Gather everything needed for making Gingerbread ornaments: cinnamon, applesauce, white glue, Ĺ cup, tablespoon, bowl, spoon, gingerbread, cookie cutters, and wax paper.

6. Have charts of "Singing the Senses" and "Five Senses of Christmas" out.

7. Write the poem the Gingerbread Man on chart paper.

8. Have the books [The Story of Ferdinand, Smell, Scratch and Sniff: Christmas] out ready to read.

9. Pass out Santa Bear, Santa Bear books.

10. Make sure you have a globe that is assessable.

11. Duplicate Whatís That Smell recording sheet for each student.

12. Make an Our Smell Chart.


Lesson 5, day 8.

Before the children enter the room, put on a pot of Christmas potpourri or light a candle (you can even spray Christmas scents from an aerosol can), so the room smells nice and the children notice the smell as they enter the room.

1. Sing and read "Five Senses of Christmas" and "Singing the Senses" and the Santa Fingerplay. Review the five senses with these poems and songs. Review the words on the Word Wall. Ask what is different today. By process of elimination, students should say the room smells good. Talk about the smell they noticed as they entered the room. Does it remind them of anything?

2. Read and discuss [The Story of Ferdinand], a story of a bull who loves to smell flowers. Identify the smells in the story. List them as pleasant and unpleasant on the chart paper. What did Ferdinand learn about his world from smelling the flowers?

3. Next ask students to look carefully at the pictures in the story. Does this story look like it is taking place today? No, it does not. Why? What is different here? (Look for answers like: clothing, bull fighter clothing, and the truck looks like itís 30 years old and not like ones we see today.) Tell them these are all clues that this story takes place in a different time. This is called history. History means something that has happened in the past.

*For example, the day each child was born on five or six years ago is an event in history. Ask: How many of you went to preschool? Ok, that is an event in history. It happened in the past. This story was actually written and published fifty years ago.

*Now ask if this story looks like it takes place here in Panama City. No, it does not. How do you know? Do you see palm trees or beaches? There is an outdoor arena for special events. Does that look like our football or baseball stadiums? No. So that is a clue that this story takes place somewhere else. It just so happens that this is Spain.

*Show students on the globe where Spain is compared to Panama City, Florida or your own town. Spain is a country where they have bullfights. So raise your hand if you think [The Story of Ferdinand] took place in another time and place. Very good. For those of you who raised your hand, it did.
*Who can tell me about another event from history? (Accept any reasonable answer.)

4. The sense of smell is very important to a person. Our noses help us know more about the world we live in than we do when we just touch things or when people just see them. Tell students the nose smells through the use of receptors, which are located in the nasal passage just behind the bridge in the nose. (Point to it)

*These receptors send messages to the brain and give humans the ability to discriminate different odors. This is called your olfactory sense.

*Show the diagram of the nose. Our sense of smell is very poorly developed compared to other animals. The sense of smell guides animal behavior more than any other sense. Dogs use their noses to explore things around them in the same way we humans use our eyes. Sharks can smell one drop of blood in water up to one mile away.

*Read and discuss [Smell]. This is a short book about the sense of smell.

5. Tell the students that we are going to use our sense of smell to play the Mystery Smell Game. Show them the 4 film containers. Tell them there is a different smell in each one of the containers. Tell them they will use their sense of smell to determine what is in each one.

*Pass out the Smell Recording Sheet to each student. (Whatís That Smell?)

*Show students how to fan above the air above the canister toward their noses to smell the contents. (This is a safe behavior that pulls the scent out of the container to the nose.) Give all students an opportunity to smell what is in the containers. They will draw a picture of what their prediction of the smell is.

*When the group is finished, the students will cut the broken lines of their papers and place the numbered drawings in the correct columns on the enlarged Smell Chart when the teacher calls for them.

6. Ask: What did your nose tell you about container 1? Are the objects pictured in column one of our chart the same? Compare answers. What does this tell us? (Do this for the rest of the columns) Students all smelled the same things, why are the answers different?

7. What can we say about these four containers? What did your nose tell you about what was in the containers that your eyes did not? When you smelled the containers, did it make you think of home or a special time or place? Explain.

*Include in the discussion other safe and unsafe behaviors about their nose. (Don't stick things up in it!!)

8. Now it is time to introduce verse number 4 of "Smells Like Christmas" of the "Five Senses Christmas Song." Sing and read it together. Talk about the sound in the song. Then introduce the Gingerbread Man poem. Read and point to the words for one-to-one correspondence. Work on the concepts of print as the students become familiar with it. Ask if there are any new words the students want to add to the Five Senses Word bank or Word Wall? (Nose, olfactory, sniff)

9. Now tell the class they are going to make gingerbread ornaments. Tell the students they are not to be eaten. We will enjoy the smell of them and how pretty they look on our tree. Read the recipe to the students. Then have students help mix the ingredients together. Talk about Ĺ cup and tablespoon measurement as you go along. It is a good idea to pull a small group of five to do the actual cutting out.

*While the teacher is working with small groups, the other students can make paper gingerbread men to hang up in the room. Pass out the patterns. Students are to trace, cut and decorate their gingerbread men. Students can decorate the paper gingerbread men with old paper scraps, yarn, or any other craft scraps you may have. Display them in the room.

Lesson 5, Day 9 of A ďSenseĒsational Christmas unit. As the children enter the room, put on a pot of Christmas potpourri or light a candle (you can even spray Christmas scents from an aerosol can), so room smells nice and the children notice the smell as they enter the room.

1.Introduce todayís lesson by reading [Scratch and Sniff: Christmas]. Talk about the wonderful smells of Christmas. Review the sense of smell by asking how the nose smells scents. (The olfactory membrane in your nose sends messages to the brain.) The sensory cells in your nose become desensitized to the scent to which they are exposed over log periods of time. When you first walk into a room, you can smell many things: dinner cooking, perfume, flowers, smoke; but after you have been in the room awhile, those nerves ďget tiredĒ and you no longer smell these odors.

*Another fact is smells keep us safe. We can smell smoke that warns us of fire, we know by smell that there may be a gas leak, we can identify gasoline or rubbing alcohol by their smells and know they are dangerous to us. (I always tell them when my sense of smell tells me something in the oven is burning that my eyes, hearing, touch would not until it was too late.)

*So, in conclusion, your sense of smell is important to learning about your world.

2. Do you think a person would be considered handicapped with they didnít have a sense of smell? The answer is yes. Now it is different from other handicaps like blindness, deafness, or not having the use of arms or legs. It is not as serious; (I always tell them about my friend who is a teacher who was born without a sense of smell. She did not smell things and it didnít seem like a big deal until she almost burned her house down by forgetting about her dinner that was in the oven. There was a fire in the kitchen. It was her sense of hearing that alerted her to the fire because she heard the smoke alarm go off.)

*Think back to the story about Ferdinand. If he didnít have the sense of smell he wouldnít have been able to smell flowers and have such a good feeling. Smells also make you feel good and remember good memories. For example, when I smell someone baking cookies, it reminds me of my grandmother. We used to make cookies together at holiday time when I was growing up.

*Your sense of smell can trigger bad memories too, like fire or rotten food. Your sense of smell can tell you if the milk in the refrigerator has gone bad and that you should not drink it.

3. It is also very important to remember not to put anything up into your nose. Students use their noses to not only help them smell, but also to breathe. Tell them: if you stick things in your nose, you could block your airway or they go up into your nasal passages where you might not be able to get an object out. What is the rule about putting things in your ear? (Nothing but your elbow) Well, the same rule applies here.

*My brother put peas up his nose once to be funny, but the joke was on him because he pushed it up too high and couldnít get it out. You could damage parts of your nose by sticking things up there. Your doctor may look into your nose with his nasal speculum. It magnifies what is in your nose so doctors can take a good look to see if there is a problem.

4. Pass out the Santa Bear, Santa Bear, Use Your Five Senses book they are making. Read the first six pages together pausing at the blanks students filled in. Then turn to page 7 Ė Say: Listen to the words as I read them. What word goes in the first blank? Be sure to use the picture clue of the nose Santa Bearís sack. What does that tell you? (Itís a picture clue that can help you figure out this page is about the nose and smelling.)

*Please write it. Draw and color a picture of something you smell at Christmas. You must draw something other that cookies. Complete the sentence I smell ________. Think of the words in your head and write the sounds you hear or dictate your words to the teacher. Make sure the picture and words you wrote match. Take up the books. (Remind students to do their best because when this book is complete it will be used as a summative assessment to show how much they have learned.)

5. End the lesson by asking these oral formative assessment questions:
*Is your nose one of the five senses?
*How can the sense of smell tell us about our world?
*If a person is blind, how can he tell is thereís a fire or other danger?
*Why is the sense of smell so important?
*What kinds of things are safe to stick up your nose?
*How does the sense of smell help us enjoy life?
*How can you help someone who cannot smell?


Day 8
Formatively assess the studentsí knowledge of the five senses and how it allows us to take in and respond to information in order to learn about our surroundings by the answers given by students in activity #5. Specifically listen for: Your nose helps in the sense of smell and helps you learn about the world.

Formatively assess students' understanding that history tells the story of people and events of other times and places by listening to the answers they give in activity #3. Accept any reasonable answer about an event from history.

Formatively assess how students identify safe and unsafe behaviors using the nose by answers given in activity #5. Specifically listen for: the sense of smell warns of us of dangers like fire and that a person should never stick anything up the nose.

Formatively assess students' knowledge and acceptance of the differences of people with special health needs by listening to the answers of students in question #5. Specifically look for: People who canít smell are handicapped, but not like those with blindness, or deafness. You can help a person who canít smell by telling them what different smells are and describing them.


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, ďAssociated Files.Ē This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files, (if any).

Writing Center: In students journals write about their favorite smell. My favorite smell is____________________________________________________________________.

Art Center: Cut out pictures of noses from different animals and make a collage.

Science Center: Put different smells in other containers for the students to explore. Students take turns guessing what they are.

Make extra gingerbread cookies to eat!
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