Why Incorporate Olfactory Sense into Learning?
I encourage you, if you do not already, to begin incorporating essential oils into your homeschool classroom (and if your children go to school outside of the home, use essential oils with homework and studying). The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun explains, "smell plays an important part in establishing and reviving memories. When we smell something, the olfactory stimulus zips directly to an ancient structure in our brain, the limbic system, without taking a detour. (Other senses send information to the brain through more circuitous routes)." Higley's Reference Guide for Essential Oils states, "The limbic system includes structures such as the hippocampus (long-term memory), the amygdala (emotions), the hypothalamus (autonomic nervous system and hormones), and the cingulate gyrus (regulates blood pressure, heart rate, and attention). It is due to the fact that the olfactory system is so closely connected to the limbic system that essential oils have such profound physiological and psychological effects." Smelling certain scents may improve memory and attention (i.e. peppermint), while smelling other scents may help a child relax (i.e. lavender). As you incorporate more senses into learning, memory, attention, and association increases.
Christmas Tree Painting and Sight Words
Here is an example of a multisensory lesson for preschool and early-elementary aged students. You can easily alter this activity for older students.
To prepare, mix:
5 drops of an "earthy" essential oil
2 tsps. salt (for texture)
1/2 cup green paint
I used Sandalwood EO because it is the most "earthy" smelling oil we have. Other choices may be Frankincense, Cedar, Cypress, Fir, Pine, Spruce, Evergreen Essence, Christmas Spirit, or 3 Wise Men.
Have the children paint a tree. Discuss the way the paint smells. Ask them if it reminds them of anything. Talk about a time you went for a walk thru the woods (or maybe talk about last Christmas if you had a live tree in your house). What did you see? What did you hear?
You can continue onto the next part of the lesson later that day (when the paint dries) or the following day. To prepare, write letters or words onto multi-colored paper ornaments. For our older daughter (Kindergarten), I used the words on her vocabulary list for December. If using words, hold up the ornaments one at a time and give your child a chance to read the word. Help him/her if you need to. Repeat the word a few times and then have the child glue it onto the tree. While he/she is gluing, talk about the way the object the word represents smells, looks, feels, and/or tastes. Compare and contrast that to the way the tree smells, looks, and feels. After the child has glued the word ornament onto the tree, point to it and repeat the word one more time before moving onto the next word.
The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.
Reference Guide for Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley