Preschoolers and kindergarten kids love learning about their physical senses. One sense that they never get tired of using is their sense of smell. This fun scent science experiment allows kids to use their nose to find out just how well they can identify common smells. Use a few surprising items in your mystery bags that aren’t food (like dirt, balloons, or animal fur (if your kids don’t have allergies) for even more fun.

Guess that Scent Science Experiment

Guessing the scent is a fun science experiment for little kids (although bigger kids get into it as well!). Kids are always surprised at what they can recognize and not recognize by smell alone.

You need a few supplies:

Paper bags

Strong-smelling items (lemon, coffee, peppermint, balloons, grass, pet fur, strawberries, a favorite food, essential oils, dirt, etc.

Do the activity:

Fill a small container with each item and place it inside a paper bag.

Roll the tops closed tightly and arrange on a table.

Tell the kids they can smell what’s in the bag, but not look.

Have the kids write down their guesses as to what each bag contains before looking.

How many did they get right? How many wrong? How far off were their guesses?

Guess that Scent Science Experiment Explained

When you can’t see an object, your nose does all the work. But you can’t always trust what your nose tells you! Kids will be surprised at what scents they can get right away and what scents are no longer identifiable once they can’t see the object. For best results, use smells that are familiar to the kids, like pizza, coffee, lemon, animal fur, dirt, grass clippings, strawberries, cinnamon, and other concentrated scents. You can also use essential oils, if kids are familiar with those scents.

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Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.

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