The Smelling Bottles
The teacher prepares three or four pairs of smelling bottles.
The smelling substances (either dry, or liquid applied to a
cotton ball) are placed in small muslin or cotton bags of
two contrasting colors, one for each of a pair, and the tops
are sewn up. These are placed inside air tight, transparent
A different colored dot inside the lid and on the bottom of
each pair of bottles can help the child match the correct lid
to each bottle, and also serves as a control of error.
A. Dry substances which can be used include any sweet
smelling herbs, pot-pourri, dried lavender, lemon or orange
rind, coarsely ground coffee, and spices. Only substances
with a pleasant smell can be used.
B. Liquid substances: pleasant smelling liquids are used.
Example: Vanilla or other cooking essence, perfume,
rose water, coffee essence, etc.
A few drops of a liquid are put on the cotton ball, which
is then placed inside the cloth bag, and into the clear bottle.
Two bottles are prepared for each scent, using constrasting
There are three or four pairs of contrasting scents in a set,
but more than one set could be made. It is not really pos-
sible to match more than three or four pairs by smell,
because smell is volatile. If there are too many pairs,
everything begins to smell the same. Smells deteriorate
and must be replaced from time to time, and the containers
must be washed before refilling.
To make the child aware of scent in the environment.
If the children have a garden, some herbs and plants with
aromatic leaves should be grown.
Flowers should be grown for the sweetness of their scent.
3 to 6 years.
The teacher takes one set of the smelling bottles to the child's
table and shows the child how to remove the tops and place them at
the top of the table. The teacher places one of each pair to the
left and the other one of each pair to the right.
The teacher smells the contents of one container and hands it to
the child to smell and asks, "Isn't that a lovely smell?" Then,
the teacher places the container in the middle. Next, the teacher
asks the child to smell each container on the other side in turn
until he or she has found the matching pair. The child will probably need to
smell the first again at intervals. When the child has found a pair, the
teacher shows the child to put the two matching containers together
in the middle. The teacher then helps the child to continue in this way until
all have been paired. When they have all been paired in the
middle, the teacher asks the child to smell each pair again to see if they are
When the child understands the exercise, he or she can work alone. When the child
has finished pairing, the teacher shows the child how to return
the correct top to each container by matching the color on the lid
to the color on the bottom of the container.
When the child has paired the smells, he or she can look at the bottoms
of each pair to see if the colored marks match.
The children can learn the names of the dried herbs or spices
Readings and Reference
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