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MCSA Lockdown Tip 40

MCSA Lockdown Tip 40

Lockdown Day 40 – The Olifactory Sense

Education of the senses

Did you know that we do all of our learning through our senses?

A wise man named Aristotle once said that everything we have in our intellect was first learned through our senses. Somewhere along the line we saw it, felt it, tasted it, touched it or smelled it!

Today we are going to explore the OLFACTORY sense and see how we can help its development.

Did you know that in humans the olfactory sense plays an important role in our social and emotional experiences and how we remember them? Scientists have found that certain odours can trigger very powerful memories and can create within us both a sense of yearning and nostalgia.

Let’s look an activity today that allows us to stimulate the child’s olfactory sense in a fun way.

A number of small containers with lids (The plastic takeaway tubs that the sweet and sour sauce come in are perfect!)
Cotton wool

Blindfold or scarf (optional)*

A variety of liquids or solids with distinguishing smells. For example:

  • vanilla/almond/peppermint essence
  • vinegar
  • lemon/orange juice
  • perfume
  • orange/lemon peel
  • a teaspoon of peanut butter/marmite
  • coffee / hot chocolate

* Some children really enjoy the fun of using a blindfold, and others are not comfortable with their eyes being covered and would prefer to just close their eyes. Go with what suits your child best.


1. If you are using a liquid, place a cotton wool ball into each container and add a few drops of the liquid on the cotton wool. Solids can be placed directly into the containers.

2. Close the lid and leave overnight for the liquid to really soak into the cotton wool or for the smell of the solid to fill the container.

3. Invite the child to do the smelling activity with you.

4. Explain that you need the child’s OLFACTORY help! This gives you a perfect opportunity to introduce a new (long) word and to bring the child’s attention to the purpose of having a nose!

5. Show the child the containers and explain that each of these containers has a mystery scent. The objective of this game is to use only their sense of smell to figure out what is in the container.

6. Invite the child to put the blindfold over her/his eyes to isolate the olfactory sense. (If the child does not want to have her/his eyes covered let her/him simply close her/his eyes.)

7.  Open one container and lift it to the child’s nose.

8. Ask the child to try and identify the smell. Encourage the child to use rich descriptive words (adjectives) here. This is a nice way to add some grammar to your game!

9. Continue with the other containers.

10. Discuss the smells that the child likes or does not like and ask whether the smells make her/him think of anything or anyone in particular.

11. Encourage the child to keep the containers in the fridge in case s/he would like to revisit these smells in the next couple of days.


It is quite fun to enhance this activity soon afterwards by using one or two of the ingredients to make cookies (for example), so that the child can really use the new learning in a practical way.

Use good vocabulary such as aroma, fragrance or scent when talking about ‘smelling’ something. You are a good role model when it comes to increasing your child’s vocabulary.

If you have access to a garden with different smelling plants, you could explore those too. Older children can be encouraged to describe the smells using adjectives such as: sweet, sour, odourless, delicate, faint, floral, fruity or pungent.

Extensions may include identifying spices or herbs through smell.


This activity stimulates the child’s sense of smell and heightens her/his awareness of this aspect of previously known foods, which were probably initially linked to the taste experience.

Find all of our lockdown tips here –