My daughter calls this activity "Smelly Jars." She was certainly the inspiration for this activity. She loves to smell different spices, extracts, and pantry items. It's one of her favorite activities now!
- Glass jars (like baby food)
- cotton balls
- Different extracts and spices
- Picture cards
- If you want to keep the jars for a while and "reuse" them for a few weeks, use something that has an airtight seal. We used glass baby food jars.
- Choose your smells. Look right in the pantry, spice rack, or fridge to see what's available. We used things like vanilla, peppermint, vinegar, garlic, lemon, orange, fish sauce (ew!), lime, almond extract, rosemary, and sesame oil. Anything pungent will do. Remember, Sometimes stinky= fun.
- Put a small amount of each scent on a cotton ball.
- Print cards for them to match the scent.
- Laminate the cards if you want to reuse them. I "laminate" with packing tape. :)
- Go through each smell with your child. It's helpful to start with one or two.
- Show them the picture that matches each scent (ex: peppermint plant with mint smell, the picture of the lemon with the lemon scent, etc).
- Show your child how to place the card in front of the smell that "matches" the picture.
- As time goes on, you can have your child do this on their own. My daughter will do this when I'm cooking so if she gets stuck on a smell she can't place, I can help her. It's so much fun to watch her expressions! (She's even come into the kitchen while I'm cooking and said, "Phew-wee...garlic!" It was neat to see how even at 26 months she was recognizing smells in her environment, too.)
In Virginia, one of the Kindergarten Science Standards of Learning (SOLs) deals with the five senses. This could be a fun way to introduce the sense of smell. It was also a great way for us to introduce the concept of matching and concentration. She really focuses in and concentrates to try to identify the different smells and then match it to the corresponding picture.