Scent and Smell are an important part of our daily lives, making it a fun and practical topic for tot school. Not only does the sense of smell involve the five senses, but it is also tied to our strongest memories. This means that what we smell even as babies, is tied to a memory! Though kids can smell before they can truly realize it in a technical sense, it take a bit to be able to understand smell since it’s somewhat abstract. That is why we chose to put it a little later in our tot school year.
This week goes well with the previous theme of taste and kitchen because of the obvious connect that smell has with cooking and with how we smell food before we taste it. So that was the next logical step for us in our learning themes. However, this week was different in the way we structured it. There are lots of different kinds of smells and ways to interact with them and plenty of vocabulary to associate different types of smells; so that’s how we broke it up: smell (v.), fragrance, odor, scents in the kitchen, and smells of nature. This week we chose to take the weekend “off” as well :).
Toys, Supplies, and Books to explore the sense of smell
There are a lot of different thing you can do without buying extra resources, but some fun additions you might consider would be Scratch & Sniff Stickers, some smell-based books (click images below), and Scented Markers.
There is a great guide on CAUTION! Twins at Play’s blog that covers multiple ways to incorporate scents into your week of play. I highly recommend checking it out to give you some ideas and inspiration going into the week.
You might even look into getting some Montessori Smelling Bottles to keep coming back to a fun, sensorial activity with oils and other fun scents.
Activities to explore scents in tot-school
- If you haven’t already, teach your toddler to breath in deeply to smell. Do this by introducing it when there is a strong smell around. Ironically, our daughter learned about smell when we were in the country and we could smell lots of cow poop. She thought for awhile that all smells = cow poop. Please learn from our mistake 😉
- Use smell bottles and essential oils for a Montessori Sensory Activity like from the Natural Homeschool.
- Revisit the body parts unit and activities about facial features to talk about what the nose does.
- Make smelling an animated activity
- Hold your nose with stinky smells
- “Scoop” in the smell of deliciously made dinner
- Explain that a fragrance is a sweet and pleasant smell.
- Enjoy some sensory play with Lavender Scented beans (And Next Comes L)
- Go on a hike, finding flowers and plants that give off a pleasant odor.
- Make some play dough that incorporates a sweet fragrance like this apple play dough recipe at Danya Banya.
- Explain that an odor is an unpleasant smell.
- Visit a petting zoo and/or farm and talk about how it is stinky and why!
- We are not above talking about bodily functions in our home. In fact, my daughter is the first to point out a “toot”. So this meant talking about how toots and using the bathroom typically resulted in a stinky odor.
- We talked about animals like skunks that are stinky.
- Find different items in the fridge and ask your child if they are stinky or fragrant.
- Make a cute garlic craft like these garlic-skin ghosts from the Good Long Road after smelling the unique garlic scent.
- Bake something sweet and cook something savory, discussing the smells in the house as you do.
- Pull out those aromatic spices and create a fun and unique spiced sensory experience. (In the Playroom)
- Enjoy a fun sensory bin filled with coffee beans!
Scents of Nature
- Pick flowers, smell them and compare smells.
- Discuss the smell of outside after it rains.
- Find a unique smelling plant.
- Enjoy some scented water play activities.
Find More Learning Themes Here.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!