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Science Kids on the Loose

What’s That Smell?

Observe different things using just your sense of smell and use their scents to predict what they are.

Download this activity (pdf)


  • A way to block children’s sight-a scarf to blindfold or opaque containers with gauze on top
  • About four items with distinctive scents – coffee, soap, onions, lemons, cinnamon, vanilla, rose petals, mint, and chocolate are possibilities


  1. Blindfold the children who will smell the items or put items in an opaque jar with gauze on top. The important thing is that kids observe using only their noses, not their eyes.
  2. Have children smell the first item. What do they think it is? Write down their ideas.
  3. Repeat the procedure until you’ve reached the last item.
  4. Ask children how we can find out for sure what we observed using our sense of smell. How can we check the predictions?
  5. Reveal each item so children can check their predictions.

Talk About It

  • Encourage children's attempts to predict. Being right is great, but trying is the most important thing.
  • Ask children to think about their favorite things to observe with their sense of smell. And, tell them about some of your favorite scents too!
  • Kids love playing with scented play dough. You can buy it or make your own by adding scented extract (lemon and mint work well) to your favorite make-it-yourself recipe.

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Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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