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September 18, 2012

Exploring the Sense of Smell with a Game

The Sense of Smell

We are right in the middle of an All About Me unit, and we are having a blast exploring the five senses.  Today we are going to focus on the sense of smell.  I set up a fun and simple game for the boys to play, although J-Bug (3) chose not to participate.  I put six edible elements in small containers for JZ (5) to smell while wearing a blindfold.  I specifically chose food and spices with strong aromas.  I used a lemon slice, coffee grounds, black pepper, onions, cilantro and cinnamon.

JZ was too excited to describe.  He is the kind of kid who likes to know every detail before beginning a game or project, so this one really took him out of his comfort zone.  Usually he looks every single item over before joining in an activity, but for this smell test he couldn't see the elements ahead of time.

Despite the fact that this took him out of his comfort zone, JZ had a huge grin on his face the entire time he was blindfolded.  His smile managed to grow even bigger each time he realized what he was smelling.  He only missed one, the cilantro.  Once the blindfold was off he instantly reached for the cilantro to see what it looked like.

We talked about how when we lose one or more of our senses the others are heightened.  Even though he couldn't see with the blindfold on, he was easily able to smell the contents of each container.

He smelled everything again once he could see.

He also tasted everything and insisted that I taste everything.  I was surprised when he bit into an onion.  He hates them.

Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

We talked about how God created us wonderfully and how He carefully designed each of our senses to work together.  I pointed out how even though he could smell everything he couldn't see that the onion was white or that the cinnamon was finely ground.  As he was touching everything we took the conversation further and described the texture and feel of each item.  We also talked about how important the sense of sight is.  JZ could visualize the lemon, coffee, cinnamon, pepper and onions as soon as he smelled them.  He could get a picture in his head of the cilantro and wasn't able to fully discover it until the blindfold came off.

For more ideas to learn about the senses, be sure to read our post about Exploring Our Senses through Fruits and Vegetables.

For more ideas for hands on learning follow me on Pinterest.


  1. I like that he tried the onion, but I bet it didn't change his opinion of them. They are pretty potent raw. :-) Just pinned this.

  2. This is always one of my favorite science lessons. I love how you connected to how God made us.

  3. I came across this on pinterest and I like this exercise. I'm going try this with my students!

  4. I Love these ideas for exploring scents. My toddler loves to smell things and explore the world through his senses. It all started with our Earth Day scent-sory bin! http://jennifischer.blogspot.com/2012/04/earth-day-scent-sory-bin.html

  5. What a really great activity and way to teach the senses.!

  6. I really love these All About Me posts. I plan on featuring them this week on my Kids Co-op post (Thursday). I can't wait to try some of them myself! http://sugarsnips.com/

  7. I collected a few tomatoe sauce bottles the ones with the wind up dispensing lids on them washed them and put cotton wool in each one and then put different smelling essences onto the cotton wool wound up the spouts and set them out on a sesory table for children to smell and guess the smell. All the children used these lots.

  8. I love this site there is some really great ideas that are very easy to accomplish.

  9. Great work! I love the items you chose. Cilantro & citrus, these are brilliant. Be careful with the black pepper though. I have heard that it can be fatal for young kids. In the Montessori curriculum they do a similar exercise to develop the sense of smell. I've seen some put essential oils on cotton balls too. Thank you again for posting.

    1. Thank you very much Charissa, both for your kind words and for the warning. I had no idea about the black pepper and will do some research on that!


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