Explore the sense of smell with your child by having them guess different scents.

What you’ll need to explore the sense of smell

  • Five or more small containers for the scents, such as film canisters with holes poked in the top or spice bottles covered with paper. If you don’t have covered containers, you can put the scents in glasses and have your child smell them with a blindfold on.
  • Five or more strong-scented items, such as garlic, vinegar, coffee grounds, cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint, or an orange slice.
  • Cotton balls to soak up the liquid scents to keep them from spilling.

How to do the activity

Discuss the five senses with your child: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Talk about the importance of the sense of smell with your child. What would be different if your child could not smell things? What are some of your child’s favorite smells? Fill five or more containers with a different scent in them. Have your child smell each container and guess what the scent is. Then reveal the scents in the containers and have her smell them again. As a next step, have your child plug their nose and taste small samples (so long as what you’ve chosen is safe and edible) of the scents they’ve just identified. Does removing the sense of smell affect how these samples taste? Why does your child think that is? Talk about it together with your child.

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