Science for Kids: Smelly Game

I’ve been reading about a lot of science activities for kids and have always wanted to try one related to the sense of smell. After combing through the internet and my science books I decided to make it into a game. Using baby food jars with scent soaked cotton balls inside we had the kids match each of the smells in the jars to a visual list. At first I had nine different smells they had to sniff to find the three on their individual lists but thankfully the teacher suggested just giving each child the three smells on their list to match. Much more age appropriate.


It was a fun exercise so here is the project!

Smelly Game


  • Smelly Game Sheets
  • Jars
  • Cotton Balls
  • Clear or liquid “scents”. You can use essential oils but there are also a number of things in your home that work just as well. I used: fish oil (break open a couple of capsules), vanilla, almond extract, lemon, vinegar, garlic, coconut oil (heat it up to melt it before soaking it into the cotton), olive oil, and an apple scented body spray.


  • Dip a few cotton balls in each of the scents. The goal is make the cotton balls look relatively the same so there are no visual clues as to what the smell is, so crush up that garlic and mix it with a little water, then soak the cotton ball in that.
  • Make a visual match for each scent. You can make sheets for the game with images of the items that make the scents; download the Smelly Game Sheets here. Alternatively you can place the lemon, almonds, oils, etc. on the table near the scented jars and have the child match the scent to the actual item.

That’s it! I found half the kids loved this experiment and half were truly turned off by a “smelly game!

Find More Science for kids here:20-Science-Projects-BUTTON-

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  1. says

    I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your activity! You can see it here:

    If you have other kid friendly crafts, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!

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