So often when we hear the words Sensory Play we only think of touch. Allowing our children to squelch mud through their fingers; slide fingers dipped in paint across a page or feel all the different textures on a texture board. It is easy to forget that one of our most important senses is the sense of smell and so for this week’s sensory activity I decided to focus on smell and make my children some smelling jars.

This is a really fun and easy activity and you can use anything that you have in the kitchen, provided it has a scent of course. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those activities that your children can help you prepare as you don’t want them to see the items you want them to identify.


I decided to use:
• Lemon
• Naartjie
• Chocolate
• Fresh coriander
• Garlic
• Fresh rose
• Vinegar (I used apple cider because that is what I had in the house)
• Coffee beans
• Strawberry Jam
• Peanut Butter


1. Cut up any ingredients that you need to (I sliced the lemon and broke up the naartjie) and place some of each ingredient into individual jars.
2. Place a piece of tin foil over the top of each jar (and down the sides if your jars are clear) so that that your children can’t see into them.
3. Slice a slit into the top of each jar (large enough for them to put their noses into but not so large that they can see what is in the jar).
4. Get them to try to identify what each item is only by smell



My children did NOT like the garlic one little bit. My 4 year old was able to identify most of the other items by smell alone however my 2 year old could only get the more common items like chocolate, fruit (naartije) and peanut butter.



I found that the coriander wasn’t scented enough for them to smell in the jar so I got them to rub the leaves in their hands and then see how the smell is released. I got them to do the same with the rose petals and the naartjie peel.


It was a fun activity and although my children were sceptical at first they really got into it and had a lot of fun shoving the jars into each other’s faces. It was really interesting to see how without sight they had to work a lot harder to identify the ingredients and then how touch had to be integrated to help with some of the other items too. It just goes to show how important it is to help our children develop all of their senses so that they can work together successfully.


I had hoped that I could continue this game for quite some time however it came to an end when my little ones broke into the chocolate and peanut butter and then sprinkled the floor with the vinegar!