Investigating the Sense of Smell - Scent Swooshers

Rather than doing the usual scent match up or guessing game I wanted to try something different. We have a product called Scent Swooshers. I opened the pack and took a look:

It contained:

  • 12 scent pastels
  • 6 easy to clean plastic scent swooshers
  • 50 paper inserts
  • An ideas guide

The ideas guide basically told what the scent pastels where (they are labelled 1-12), how they could be combined and also which scents were calming, invigorating and refreshing. The majority were calming.

I prepped the activity by labeling the paper inserts with the numbers 1-12 on the bottom right corner. We found that when the swoosher was closed we could not identify which scent was which and needed to open the swoosher to find the number. The remedy was to label the paper right in the middle.

I added coffee filters and a pen and paper to keep track of which scents were on which coffee filter. Some of the scents were easily recognizable, like lavender but others were more difficult.

As you can see Daisy can barely contain her excitement and finds the swooshers make great pirate eye covers.

Our friends were visiting for a play date and joined us for the scent swoosher exploration. All four children seemed to enjoy smelling the papers. We used the swooshers for six scents and simply sniffed the papers for the remaining 6.

I thought it would be fun to try and match up the scents; hence the added coffee filters; which held the scent quite well. As it turned out I did not need to structure the fun. We just enjoyed sniffing, guessing the scent and trying to work out whether the scent was calming, refreshing or invigorating.

The adults remained at the table trying to match the filters and gave up in the end. I think we were too relaxed from sniffing all the lovely essential oils. For me this activiy brought back memories of burning incense in dorm rooms at university and chilling with friends.

The kids explored the scents for more than 10 minutes then wandered off calmly to play. They did seem to be more relaxed after and played well as a group of 4. My friend Rosemarie and myself enjoyed another scent - coffee and brownies.


  • Label your papers so you can identify each scent
  • If you would like to try matching, use a limited amount of scents
  • Take only one scent out at a time - the number wears off the pastel and they may become mixed up.

Learning Opportunities:

Science: Understand how we use our senses, discuss how we smell a scent (we read "Smelling" again as part of our 5 a day)

Personal and Social: Identify how we feel, do you think this smell makes you feel relaxed, happy or ready to go? Which scent is your favourite?

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