Counselor Chill Corner: activity # 6 Auromatherapy scented cards

Did you know that our sense of smell is connected to our emotions?  There are several essential oils that are thought to produce a calming effect in both adults and children.  This activity is perfect for a small group, but may also be used in classroom guidance if you are willing to prepare the cards before visiting the classroom.  It is extremely important to get permission from parents before exposing students to essential oils.

I allow each student to pick a card (relax card or animal nose smelling card) and ask him or her to write a list of relaxation strategies on the back.  I briefly introduce the relationship between different smells and their effect on our moods.   I like to have at least two different essential oils for the students to sample.  It is also important to demonstrate to the students how to properly smell the oils.  The students will not put the oil in their mouth, on their skin, or near their eyes.  Each student will personalize their scent card by selecting their favorite scent from the oils provided.

After a few days the cards will be ready to use.  Each student will smell their card and take a deep breath and blow their breath out slowly.  Repeat at least three times.  Ask each student to share a relaxation strategy from the back of their scent card.  As a group, practice each strategy.  The student will take their personal scent card with them.  When the child feels anxious, he or she will smell his or her scent card and be reminded of different strategies he or she can use to calm down.

How Do Essential Oils Work

It is thought that essential oils can be used to affect our moods as well as our emotional responses. When smelling essential oils, the molecules stimulate the olfactory center of the brain, which is located next to the limbic center, the part of our brain which controls emotions. This might explain why certain scents can stir up emotions or memories. My grandfather wore Old Spice and each time my mom smells this scent she is instantly transported back in time to her childhood. The scent of roses brings me comfort because it reminds me of my grandmother. Are there any particular scents that evoke strong emotional responses in you?

Research on Effectiveness of Auromatherapy

Of the research that has been done to date, here are some of the findings:

  • Preliminary research shows that aromatherapy can alter brain waves and behavior.
  • Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.”
  • Lavender aromatherapy has indeed been shown to reduce crying in infants and promote sleep in infants and adults.
  • Different aromatherapy scents bring different effects in people.
  • One study showed that aromatherapy massage can have some beneficial effects on anxiety and depression.

Which Oils Reduce Stress

Lavender, lemon, chamomile, and eucalyptus are just a few scents that are thought to produce calming effects in children.  I personally use lavender when I am feeling anxious or am having difficulty falling to sleep.

How to Make Scent Cards

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, children are more likely to take ownership of a tool if they are involved in creating the tool.Find a photo or image for your scent card.  Print your card using card stalk or heavy paper.  The cards in the photo are available on the chill corner activity section of the lesson page.









Ask the student to write a few relaxation strategies on the back of his or her card.

Choose an essential oil like lavender, lemon, chamomile, or eucalyptus .  Place two to three drops of your oil of choice on a few cotton balls.  Then carefully place both the cotton balls and the card in a ziplock bag.  Make sure the cotton balls are not placed directly on top of the card. Seal the bag and wait for at least two to three days.  You can always repeat the process once the scent begins to dissipate.


When using essential oils with children it is important to get consent from their parent and to check for allergies. If you decide to use the oils on your body you should skin test all oils before using. Apply a small amount to the skin on your inner arm. Do not use if redness or irritation occurs. Keep all aromatherapy products away from eyes and mucous membranes.

Other Scent Options for Chill Corner









Another great way to use auromatherapy in your chill corner is to provide a gentle hand cream or lotion. I would recommend using a lotion from the Jason product line. My personal favorite is Calming Lavender. Again, check with the parent before allowing the student to use the lotion.

I also use a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of essential oil. This is a great resource to have in your chill corner or in your office. I spray my office before meeting with small groups or a student known to be anxious.

Peppermint Increases Alertness

Peppermint is thought to to boost memory, focus, and concentration.  Teachers might want to prepare a peppermint misting bottle before tests!  In my district, students were given peppermint candies to eat before and during an exam.