Attention Goes as the Nose Knows!

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

It’s post Mother’s Day Monday which means at least two things:

  1. the 2009 – 2010 traditional calendar school year is winding down.
  2. lovely flower fragrances fill female teachers’ homes from gifts given yesterday to recognize moms who are also educators.

Ask anyone to name one floral fragrance, and it’s a good guess that she or he will say “roses” faster than a rose petal falls from a stem accidentally bumped while being placed in a vase. 

Now ask children to name one fruit fragrance that is closely associated with teachers. See if they say “apples.” It may take a minute for them to come up with an answer because apples evoke the sense of taste faster than the sense of smell in most people. Who hasn’t brought an apple for the teacher to bite with delight sometime during their school years?

What the nose, not the mouth, knows however, is taking center stage today. New research shows that the smell of green apples offers magical powers.  The research is from The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago,IL. It suggests that the smell of green apples may help reduce anxiety levels and also alleviate migraine headaches. These outcomes would benefit teachers, for sure.

Better known research has already confirmed that certain aromas, like chocolate, give people an instant emotional lift. Blogging Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers makes me ask: Why not use the benefits of aromatherapy to catch and keep elementary students’ attention in instructional settings? I’ve come up with the following smell power trick for you to try with your class:

NAME THE MYSTERY SMELL! – Use this activity to gain the class’ attention before you begin a new lesson or before you have an important announcement to make. Here’s how this activity might work with NUTMEG, for example:

FIRST: Give the class a few minutes of free quiet reading time at their desks while you get out the nutmeg you’ve brought to school. Pour the nutmeg into a porous but non-see-through container.

SECOND: Announce to the class that it’s time to play “Name the Mystery Smell.” Before you walk around the classroom inviting students to sniff and guess, you may choose to give hints about the mystery fragrance by telling the class how it is used, in cooking, for example.

OPTIONAL: Give a small gift to the children who guess the smell correctly.

Attention goes as the nose knows! Creatively engaging children’s noses as well as their eyes and ears will help them focus on you and your message!

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
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