When doing sensory work in the classroom at St. Andrew’s Montessori, we engage in a variety of exercises that help children isolate each of their five senses in an effort to nurture an awareness and understanding of each particular sense. Smelling Jars is one of the activities we use to help children isolate their sense of smell.

Montessori sensorial smelling jars

To repeat this activity at home, you’ll need: eight matching jars split into two sets of four and four items with different smells – essential oils or fresh spices work well. Soak essential oils in cotton and if you’re using fresh spices wrap them inside cotton; the cotton stops the smelling item from making a sound when placed inside the jars. Spice bottles work well as containers but be sure to wrap the glass if it’s clear so that children can match jars by smell rather than sight.

Essentially, the Smelling Jars activity is a simple matching game. Split the jars into two sets (colour-coding each set makes it for easy differentiation) and line them up in front of the child. Pick a jar from set 1 and smell it, articulating the scent if possible, and then smell the jars in set 2 until you locate the corresponding smell. Match the jars. Then go back to set one and repeat the exercise. Have a look at the below tutorial by My Montessori Works to see the activity in action:

An extension of the game is to draw pictures to represent the scents you have allocated to the jars (so an orange for an orange scent or a candy cane for peppermint) and get children to smell the jars and match the scent with its corresponding picture.

If you’d like further information about this tutorial, feel free to contact us at info@standrewsmontessori.com. We’re happy to answer any questions.