Smelling Bottles are such a simple sensory activity that doesn't require a lot of money and time. The Montessori inspired materials are a gift that keep on giving. My son is only two years old so I haven't yet had to use the dozens of old 35mm film canisters I got off from Craigslist (love FREE on Craigslist!) for this exercise. That step comes next. Ideally you create the smells in identical bottles so that the child has no other way to identify the differences. The work we did in this activity was simply to smell and to introduce scents. If you are matching pairs, you definitely want matching containers or a blindfold for the child.
Our execution was straightforward: I left out six different spices on a tray in his activity area. The spices I chose from our spice drawer and included: Thyme, Chili Pepper, Cinnamon, Garlic Powder, Nutmeg and Cayenne Pepper. Knowing this exercise would turn into a fine motor exercise with my son screwing off the tops, I also chose spices with appropriate lids! The tray I used was $1.50 from Goodwill.
I pointed out each spice to him one at a time with a good sniff, then he took his time exploring the smells. He recognizes Cinnamon, Thyme and Nutmeg fairly easily but the others are new to him. Next stop is using dark bottles and/or a blindfold.
I love this series of him opening one of the spices.
These shots of him smelling the Chili Powder and Cinnamon crack me up. Talk about sensory overload!
Can you tell which spice belongs to which image?
And of course the last step of exploration – shaking, seeing, smelling and tasting.
A lot of fun and super easy, this exercise packs a big punch!