Smelling Jars

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Smelling Jars
Sensorial - Sense of Smell
Smelling Cylinders 6.JPG
PrerequisitesPractical Life activities

Also called Smelling Bottles, Smelling Cylinders, Smell Matching, or Scent Cylinders.
This activity helps to refine the child's olfactory sense.


  1. Take the Smelling Jars to a mat or table. Set it in the middle with red on the left and blue on the right.
    Smelling Cylinders 1.JPG
  2. Remove the first red smelling jar. Flip the top to open (if using this type of bottle).
    Smelling Cylinders 2.JPG Smelling Cylinders 3.JPG
  3. Smell the bottle.
    Smelling Cylinders 4.JPG
  4. Set the bottle in the middle below the box.
    Smelling Cylinders 5.JPG
  5. Remove the first blue smelling bottle, Flip the top to open, and smell to see if it is the same as the red one.
    Smelling Cylinders 6.JPG
  6. If it is not the same, set it to the right side of the box.
    Smelling Cylinders 7.JPG
  7. Continue smelling the blue bottles one at a time until a match is found.
    Smelling Cylinders 8.JPG
  8. When a match is found put the pair side-by-side in the upper left corner.
    Smelling Cylinders 9.JPG
  9. Return all the unmatched blue bottles to the box.
    Smelling Cylinders 10.JPG
  10. Take the next red smelling cylinder and repeat the process. Continue in this way until all the matches have been found.
    Smelling Cylinders 11.JPG
  11. Be sure to mix up the bottles when putting them back in the box.

Points of Interest

Control of Error

Variations and Extensions

  • A basket of items with distinctive smells could be available for the child to explore
    Smell Basket.JPG


Make Your Own

Fill pairs of bottles with spices, dried flower petals, or coffee grounds. You can also use cotton balls with drops of essential oils, cooking extracts, cooking oils, pickle juice, or perfume.

Where to Buy

Prices and links checked: 23 January 2022

6 Pairs of Bottles
Store Price
Adena $23.95
Alison's $62.00
Bruins $71.00
E & O $41.40
Kid Advance $24.99
Montessori Outlet $22.95
Montessori Services $18.95
Montessori Services $18.95
Nienhuis $82.70
Thinkamajigs $29.95
4 Pairs of Bottles
Store Price
Affordable Montessori $29.00
Alison's $25.13
Materials Co. of Boston $62.00

Further Reading