Smelly Science For Kids

Fun smelly science for kids lesson and odor in science lessons! Tons of fun stinky science activities for kids to add to your STEM learning or senses lesson plans.

Smelly Science For Kids boy holding up a smelly foot shoe and holding his nose

Best Smelly Science For Kids Ideas

Looking for some weird science smelly science kids activities and senses experiments?

How do you teach kids about smells?

  • Make scent cookies – close your eyes and use your nose to choose extra ingredients while baking cookies
  • Have fun with a smell and guess Jar activity (wafting)
  • Do a stink bomb science kit
  • Go on a sensory walk
  • Make scented play-dough and play with it
  • Learn about what gives you bath breath
  • Do a lesson on the science of poop (and why poo smells)
  • Understand the bacteria that makes stinky feet and stinky cheese smell the same
  • Learn about the science behind smelly armpits / science behind smelly feet (check our sweat episode and body odor episode!)
  • Play with a scented sensory bin
  • Talk about the connection between smell and taste (plug your nose and taste things and then write down if you tasted things better with your nose unplugged or plugged)
  • Complete a lesson on science smell attraction and how smell makes us more attracted to some things / people over other things
  • Do a smell test science experiment or odor change science experiment
  • Learn about petrichor, caused by oils released by plants and other things, and why you smell it more after it rains
  • Study the smelly scientific names (like smelly feet scientific name, medical name for bath breath, etc.)
  • If you’re brave, do a science of smelly feet experiment!

KEEP SCROLLING! We’ve got a list of fun science of smell lessons for kids and smelly science experiments below!

Want to listen to the THIS EPISODE STINKS: About Body Odor For Kids Podcast Episode?

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What is sense of smell explanation for kids TEXT OVER CUT OUT OF NOSE

What is sense of smell explanation for kids?

Imagine you have a special superpower called the “sense of smell.” Just like your eyes help you see things and your ears help you hear sounds, your nose helps you smell different scents around you.

Your nose has a tiny part inside called the “olfactory system.” When you sniff the air or something like a flower, tiny little particles from that thing travel through the air and into your nose. These particles carry a special smell.

Inside your nose, there are small receptors (like little detectives!) that can detect these particles and recognize the smells. These receptors send a message to your brain, saying, “Hey, I found the smell of a flower!” or “Hmm, something smells yummy like cookies!” (Or, “What’s that stink?!”)

Your brain then quickly processes this message and helps you understand what you are smelling. It can tell you if it’s a good smell, like your favorite food, or if it’s a bad smell, like something stinky like your brother’s gym socks!

The sense of smell can bring back memories too. Sometimes, a certain smell can remind you of a special event, like the smell of cookies baking, which may remind you of fun times with your family during the holidays.

You have the amazing ability to smell so many different things around you – like fresh flowers, a rain shower, a pizza baking in the oven, or the scent of the ocean at the beach!

So, next time you use your nose to smell something, remember that you’re using your superpower of the sense of smell to explore and understand the world in a unique and wonderful way!

Fun Facts For Kids About Smell

  1. Super Sniffers: Did you know that some animals have an incredible sense of smell? Bloodhounds, for example, are famous for their ability to follow scents for long distances, even days after a smell is left behind.
  2. Scent Communication: Animals use smells to communicate with each other. Skunks release a stinky spray to warn others to stay away, and bees leave scented trails to show their hive where to find food.
  3. Memory Triggers: Smells can trigger memories and emotions. The scent of freshly baked cookies might remind you of a fun time baking with your family, or the smell of a certain flower could bring back memories of a special event.
  4. Unique Scents: Your nose can detect thousands of different smells! No two things in the world have exactly the same scent.
  5. Smell Loss: Some people can lose their sense of smell temporarily due to a cold or stuffy nose. However, others may experience a condition called anosmia, where they can’t smell anything for a longer time. You can even get smell re-training kits!
  6. Taste and Smell Teamwork: Your sense of smell and sense of taste work together. That’s why food may not taste as delicious when you have a stuffy nose.
  7. Smelling While Sleeping: Even when you’re asleep, your sense of smell stays alert. If there’s a strange or strong smell around you, it can sometimes wake you up.
  8. Different Smelling Abilities: People have varying smelling abilities. Some individuals, like perfumers or wine tasters, have highly trained noses, while others might be more sensitive to certain scents than others.
  9. The Smell of Rain: Have you ever noticed that the air smells different after it rains? That pleasant smell is called “petrichor” and comes from oils released by plants during dry periods.
  10. Scent and Safety: Your sense of smell can keep you safe! It helps you detect dangerous things like gas leaks or spoiled food before they become a problem.
  11. Smell and Flavors: When you eat food, your sense of smell plays a big role in how you experience the flavors. That’s why you might not taste much if you hold your nose while eating.
  12. Smelly Feet Myths: Contrary to popular belief, smelly feet are not caused by sweat but by bacteria that love to munch on sweat. So, washing your feet regularly can help keep them fresh.
  13. Scent Preferences: Your favorite smells might change over time as you grow older. What you love now might be different from what you loved when you were younger.
  14. First Smells: Babies have a strong sense of smell from birth. They can recognize their parents’ scent and are drawn to the smell of breast milk.
  15. Scents in History: Throughout history, people used smells for various purposes, such as using flowers to mask bad odors or creating perfumes for special occasions.


Fun Sweat Science Teaching Resources That Don’t Stink

Fart Science for Kids


26 Activities and Lessons About Smell For Kids


Smell Walk: Take the kids on a “smell walk” outdoors, like in a garden, park, or nature trail. Encourage them to identify different smells they encounter, such as flowers, freshly cut grass, or earthy scents.

Mystery Sniff Jars: Prepare small jars with different scents inside, like vanilla extract, lemon zest, or cinnamon. Blindfold the kids and let them take turns guessing the smells by sniffing the jars.

Scented Art: Use scented markers or scented stickers to create scented artwork. The kids can draw or stick them on paper and try to match the scent to the picture they create.

Scented Playdough: Make scented playdough using ingredients like cocoa powder, peppermint extract, or essential oils. Let the kids play with it and guess the scents.

Scented Sensory Bins: Create sensory bins filled with items that emit various scents. For example, you can include dried lavender, coffee beans, citrus peels, or pinecones.

Cooking and Baking: Involve the kids in the kitchen while cooking or baking aromatic dishes. They can experience the smells of different spices, herbs, and ingredients.

Blindfolded Taste and Smell Test: Combine a taste and smell test by blindfolding the kids and having them taste various foods while simultaneously trying to identify the smell.

Scents and Memories: Share scents that are associated with specific memories, like the smell of sunscreen during summer or the scent of fresh-baked cookies during the holidays. Encourage the kids to share their favorite scent memories.

Smell Matching Game: Prepare several small containers with cotton balls soaked in different scents (e.g., vanilla, mint, lemon, lavender). Then, have the kids match the scents to their corresponding aroma cards.

Storytime with Scents: Read a story that includes scent descriptions, like a book about a bakery or a flower garden. Enhance the experience by releasing scents that correspond to the story at the right moments or passing around scent jars to reinforce that part of the book.

Scented Science: Conduct simple scent-related science experiments, like observing how scents change when heated or cooled. GET A STINKY SCIENCE KIT HERE

Guess the Smell Riddles: Create riddles describing various scents, and have the kids guess what the smell is based on the clues provided.

Nature Hunt: Organize a nature scavenger hunt where kids have to find and identify natural items with distinct smells, such as pine needles, flowers, or fallen leaves.

Smelly Charades: Play a game of charades where kids act out different smells, and others have to guess what they are portraying.

Aromatherapy Adventure: Introduce kids to the concept of aromatherapy. Show them how certain scents can be calming (e.g., lavender) or invigorating (e.g., citrus), and let them experience the mood-enhancing effects. There are kits like this to talk about how different smells help in different ways. **Please fully understand aromatherapy before using it on children.

DIY Potpourri: Gather dried flowers, herbs, and citrus peels to create a delightful potpourri blend. Let the kids mix and match different scents to make their custom potpourri sachets. Use something like this for potpourri projects for kids.

Scented Bubble Bath: Add a twist to bath time by using scented bubble baths or bath bombs. Discuss the scents with the kids and ask them which ones they prefer. Or, make it a scented water table for water table play! Making your own bath bombs would be a great project for this!

Scented Alphabet: Associate scents with each letter of the alphabet. For example, “A” for apple, “B” for banana, “C” for cinnamon, and so on. Have scented cards or objects representing each letter for the kids to explore.

Scented Memory Game: Create a memory game using pairs of cards, each with a picture of an object and a small container with the corresponding scent. The kids have to match the scent to the correct picture.

Smell the Season: Explore scents associated with different seasons. Show the kids items like pine needles for winter, blooming flowers for spring, sunscreen for summer, and pumpkin spice for autumn.

Smell Sorting: Provide a variety of scented items and let the kids sort them into different categories based on similar smells. This activity helps improve their ability to distinguish between scents.

Scented Science Art: Combine science and art by using scented materials to create artworks. For instance, mix scented watercolors or add a few drops of essential oils to homemade modeling clay.

Guess the Dish: Have the kids close their eyes and smell a dish you’ve prepared (e.g., a simple sandwich with distinct ingredients). They must guess what’s in the dish by identifying the different scents.

Scented Tactile Play: Incorporate scent into tactile play, such as making scented kinetic sand or scented slime. This way, kids can engage their sense of touch while exploring different smells.

DIY Perfume or Cologne: Teach kids about the art of blending scents to create unique perfumes or colognes using safe essential oils and carrier oils. Let them design and name their fragrances. You can also use scent craft kits like this.

Scented Dress-Up: Add a sensory element to dress-up play by incorporating scented scarves or fabric with different smells. Encourage the kids to describe the scents they encounter while playing.


Have fun adding learning about Smelly Science for Kids and for your Learning After Listening kids activities!

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Jacqueline Wilson, the mom half of the Parent Busters Podcast, is also the founder of Homeschool Super Freak (named a top 15 BEST Homeschool Site), a professional educational consultant and writer, former award-winning college professor, educator of 18+ years, homeschooling mom of over 11 years, and #1 Bestselling Education Author. She's been featured in local and national news and media outlets. She loves rescue pets.