This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.

To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Smelly" Jars

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. :)


  1. Go through each smell with your child. It's helpful to start with one or two.

  2. Show them the picture that matches each scent (ex: peppermint plant with mint smell, the picture of the lemon with the lemon scent, etc).

  3. Show your child how to place the card in front of the smell that "matches" the picture.

  4. 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.


Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

I can't wait to try this! I kept baby food jars around for crafts so we have tons. Good idea to use packing tape to "laminate" the cards :) Do you think a 15 month old would still enjoy this activity or would it be best to do with an older child?

Raegan said...

Charis has always loved smelling things, so I think it could still be fun. We've been doing this since she was about one (smelling pantry items, etc). I just recently added the cards to match. You could even do things like squeeze lemon juice in one, then have a real lemon for him to see. Then cut the lemon in from of him so he can associate them. Charis and I have always done a lot of cooking together, so maybe that's why she likes the smells. I have an herb garden, so that's a fun thing to explore, too. I let her pick some, then we rub them and smell.


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