From Scents to Sense: Unleashing the Superpower of Your Child’s Nose!

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Our sense of smell, often underestimated, is a remarkable tool that connects us to the world in pretty big ways. It has the power to transport us through time, awaken emotions, and even guide our decisions!

This experiment dives headfirst into the world of scents and awakens the olfactory superpower. It will allow kids to refine their sense of smell, recognize and appreciate the intricate nuances of scents, and even start to understand how smells can lead to emotions and memories.

Let’s put on our Smelling Superpower capes and get sniffing!

How to make the From Scents to Sense Smell Science experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you will need the following:

  • 10 sandwich bags
  • BlindfoldOpens in a new tab. (or just use a simple scarf, but it may slide down easier)
  • 5 smells – herbs, flowers, favorite foods, essential oils, fruits, crayons, etc.

Here’s a good kid’s book about the five senses to accompany this experiment.

Supplies needed for the From Scents to Sense Smell Science experiment

Before you start

If your child does not want to be blindfolded, I have an alternative for you in step 3.

Instructions

Here is how to do this experiment with your child:

Step 1: Choose your smells

First up, we want to choose our smells. Make sure your child is not a part of this step, since we want these smells to remain a mystery until we run the experiment.

We are only choosing 5 smells for our experiment to start with, since we are not only identifying, but matching scents, and do not want it to become overwhelming.

If you need some ideas, here are a few to start with:

  • Cookies
  • Flowers
  • Vanilla extract on a cotton ball
  • Lavender essential oil on a cotton ball
  • Smashed banana
  • Crayons

We chose to use:

  • Cinnamon
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Coffee beans
  • Toothpaste

Step 2: Place each smell in two bags

The reason we want to place each smell in two separate bags is that we will have them not only identify smells but match them. It’s a great way to test their identification and pairing skills!

One scent for two bags
All five scents distributed between ten bags

Step 3: Blindfold and smell!

Now, place a blindfold on your child and have them start sniffing!

If they do not like to have a blindfold on their eyes, you can cover the sandwich bags with paper or foil so the contents are still hidden from them. Just don’t let them look inside.

First, have them identify the smell and see if they get it correct. Then, have them pair bags based on their scents to see if they can match the smells.

Trying the experiment with a blindfold and sniffing
Alternative for blindfolding would be to fold a piece of colored paper and staple the sides to create a pouch
Doing the sniff test with the pouch instead of a blindfold

The science behind the From Scents to Sense Smell Science experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • Enhanced observation skills
  • Memory building
  • Sensory awareness

How it works

You’ve likely done activities at home where your child matches objects based on what they look like, so this experiment dives deeper into matching but adds a new level to it by using only our noses.

Using our noses to identify and match scents helps to build children’s observation and focusing skills just as they were learning how to match objects based on what they look like.

Enhanced observation skills

Matching scents based solely on what they can smell (without looking at the bags) can help children refine their observation skills. They learn to pay attention to fine details and distinctions in scents, honing their ability to differentiate between various smells.

These heightened observational skills can be applied to lots of aspects of their lives, from improved problem-solving to better decision-making.

Memory building

Since we are having the kids pair scents, it is a great experiment for working on their memory skills.

They will have to remember if they’ve smelled that scent already and be able to identify a match.

Sensory awareness

These experiments heighten sensory awareness, teaching children to pay attention to their senses. This can be especially important for children with sensory sensitivities or challenges, helping them better navigate their sensory experiences.

More observation experiments to try out with your child

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