Activities that Explore Smell for 0-2 Year Olds

Engage your child's sense of smell with these fun activities that explore the senses.
By Michelle Anthony, PhD



Activities that Explore Smell for 0-2 Year Olds

Senses: Children under the age of three explore and learn through their senses. To support development across all areas, use the following activities to engage and excite your baby or toddler.

  • Scented Water: Add scented extracts (e.g., peppermint, almond, vanilla, etc.) to water in a water table, in ice cubes for play, even to shaving cream for smearing. What about a colored scented bath to relax in at the end of the day?
  • Scratch and Sniff Art: Have your child enjoy finger painting. Let it dry. Add a dab of glue and have your child sprinkle cinnamon or other pleasant smell atop a portion. When it dries, your child can (gently) scratch and sniff!
  • Olfactory Bottles: Using plastic spice containers or clear salt shakers, place a scoop of potpourri in (or cotton balls dipped in fragrance oils or extracts) and glue gun/super glue on the lid. Invite your child to shake the bottle to release the scent. For older children, make pairs of scents and see if they can match them. For the particularly sensitive nose, try different scented spices (e.g., rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon, garlic, coffee, etc.). Extend the activity by sorting the jars into categories (e.g., those your child likes/doesn’t like).
Fine Motor Skills
Age 1
Age 2
Five Senses
Arts and Crafts