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Learn the Smelling Bottles Montessori Lesson


You’ve heard about all this Montessori sensory stuff but don’t know where to start? Montessori Smelling Bottles are a lot of fun for children and for adults. The variations and extensions for smelling bottles go far and are easily adaptable to various themes and seasonal works.

The DIY for this activity is quite easy and inexpensive. I have an example of a DIY Smelling Bottles work in a previous post. This work was created for an Early Childhood classroom. I wrote a post when my older son was only two years old: Simple Smelling Bottles. I like these Small Cylinder Bottles for the work. You can use cotton balls and essential oils, then squeeze a puff of smell out of the bottle. Perfect.

Here is how I learned the work in my Montessori program:

smelling bottles

The Smelling Bottles Lesson: Presentation I

“Would you like me to show you how to use the smelling bottles?”


  • Remove the bottles from the box using the 3-finger grip.
  • Line bottles horizontally from left to right
  • Pick up far left bottle, unscrew lid and place lid on the table.
  • Hold bottle below the nose and smell contents. Place bottle on table and replace lid.
  • Continue until you’ve worked through each bottle. Offer the child a turn. As child works through the smelling bottles, ask him what the smell reminds him of

The Smelling Bottle Lesson: Presentation II-IV

Prepare basket with three pairs. Then, for further presentations, add pairs until all are available to the child.

“Let’s do some matching with the smelling bottles today.”

smelling bottles

  • Remove bottles from tray and position in an inverted V or rooftop with the bottle colors separated by side (left side is one color, right side is one color)
  • Isolate lower left below the “V”. Smell the bottle with the same procedure as in Presentation I.
  • Select lower right bottle, open and sniff it. If it is a match, move next to control. Sniff the control. Sniff the mate. These two smell the same. They are a pair.” Re-cap and move the pair to the left.
  • Repeat until you have matched all the pairs.

Montessori Smelling Bottles

Additional Smelling Bottles Resources


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