The Power of Art & The Art of Asia: Part 2

This is part two of a three part series on my Power of Art implementation plan and Asian art unit.  If you would like to start from the beginning, please read this first:


This post will focus on: The Five Senses & Authentic Materials & Tools.


Activating The Five Senses:

They say that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory.  Because our olfactory glands are so close to our brains, the slightest hint of a familiar smell will cause us to remember something we have associated with that scent quickly.  However, this is one of the most difficult senses to activate in the classroom.  So, how can we engage this and other senses to complement instruction?


The most common form of gathering information is through the audible sense (listening / hearing).  Adding visuals to a lecture or text helps students make sight connections with content.  But, what about those hard-to-teach-to other senses – like taste, smell, and touch?  Presenting actual objects that the students can feel (texture) makes learning more realistic.  These items may also have a scent or odor, and / or can be tasted.  Teachers must be mindful of allergies, of course.  But, bringing in foods from other cultures, fragrances to fill the room, and / or artifacts to pass around can be much more powerful than hearing about it or seeing it.


For our Asian Art unit, I brought in a cherry blossom scented wood diffuser to activate students’ sense of smell.  I picked up a lucky bamboo plant at the local garden center for them to touch (and later compare with their bamboo pens).  We tasted Arizona green tea and snacked on strawberry flavored Pocky (to match the color of cherry blossoms).  Students were also introduced to traditional reed pipe and bamboo flute music that played as they entered the classroom.












Some other great scent ideas are: tart burners or candles (Party Lite pictured); Fabreeze flameless luminaries; and bar or liquid hand soaps (Bath & Body Works, Dial, SoftSoap).  I also really like azuki (red bean) or matcha (green tea) cookies and botan rice candy to eat, but these items are difficult to find and can be expensive depending on the number of students in your classes.



Now that the stage had been set, I started to focus on Authentic Materials & Tools.

Participants of the Power of Art workshop received a generous art supply gift card to carry out our implementation plans.  With those funds, I chose to purchase authentic tools for my 6th grade students’ use: bamboo pen/brush combo tools, sumi-e ink, rice paper, and pine soot sticks with grinding stones.  These items are considered to be the The Four Treasures of the Scholar’s Studio. (Note* I also purchased brayers and barens for my 8th grade printmaking unit.)


Students viewed examples of ukiyo-e paintings and were given hands outs as reference for writing kanji symbols.  They loved the feel of the bamboo pen / brush tool and felt that using it made them more like Chinese Calligraphers.  Acquiring more authentic tools and materials will continue to be a focus of mine for future units.




I hope you have enjoyed reading about how I implemented what I learned from the amazing Lab School of Washington, D.C. teachers through the Power of Art workshop.  Look for the final installment in this three-part series that focuses on Enrichment Activities.