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Sense of Smell Toddler Activities: Scent Cups

My recent quest to do more activities with my toddler daughter includes involving all of her senses. The messless edible paint bags that we recently played with involved the sense of touch as well as the sense of sight. Our recent experiments with sensory bottles incorporate the sense of sight as well as the sense of sound.

To focus specifically on the sense of smell, my daughter and I recently played with homemade scent cups that were inspired by an activity from a Kindermusik class. Whenever I am cooking anything with a strong smell, I try to let my daughter explore the scent by holding the smell under her nose. I tell her what the smell and demonstrate sniffing in the scent. I then allow her the opportunity to sniff the smell herself.

Making scent cups to explore the sense of smell is incredibly easy. I used the plastic containers that came with my baby food professor, but any plastic container with a lid will work. I then put a cotton ball inside each cup. Choosing different scents from my kitchen, I poured a little bit of the scented liquid on each cotton ball. For our scent cups, I chose vinegar, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, almond extract, teriyaki sauce, lemon juice, grenadine, and garlic.

To explore each smell, I show my daughter how to inhale through her nose by holding a cup under my nose and breathing in. I then hold the cup under her nose for a little bit so that she can smell the scent. I then talk about her smell with her. For example, we talk about how strong smelling vinegar is compared to the grenadine, which has almost no smell at all. I also ask her about which scents she likes and which scents she dislikes. The point of the scent cups is to get my daughter thinking about smells.

Empty Containers and Cotton Balls

Making Sense of Smell Containers

Kitchen Scents

How do you explore the sense of smell with your child?

Image Credits

Empty Containers and Cotton Balls © 2013 Heather Johnson
Making Sense of Smell Containers © 2013 Heather Johnson
Kitchen Scents © 2013 Heather Johnson

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