Smell Matching Busy Bag

Smell Matching Busy Bag Tutorial - Moms Have Questions Too

What is a busy bag that will help my toddler develop a strong sense of smell?

I’ve wanted to do a smell matching activity with Smiley Man for some time now and I figured turning it into a busy bag would be the perfect way to do that. This busy bag is great for developing a stronger and more discerning sense of smell, which I am really excited for Smiley Man to get! To make this busy bag, you’ll only need a few materials.

I used salt and pepper shakers for my containers because they have holes in the top, which is perfect for smelling. However, you could use any container with holes in the top or with an easily removable lid. Look around your house and see what you have. You probably already have something that will work great.

First, get your 6 cotton balls and add your smells to them. You only need 3 smells and you will put each smell on 2 cotton balls so that each smell has a match. I used lemon, peppermint, and lavender essential oils to scent my cotton balls. I suggest using 3-5 drops of essential oils per cotton ball.

Essential oils work great to scent the cotton balls because they won’t color the cotton balls and give a visual clue. You don’t have to use essential oils though. You could use spices like cinnamon, curry, rosemary, etc. You could also use cooking extracts like vanilla extract, almond extract, maple extract, etc. You could even dip your cotton balls in melted candle (scented) or Scentsy wax. Just use whatever you have lying around and remember to make sure all three smells are different.

Next, put one cotton ball in each container. I added some masking tape to the tops of my smell bottles so the smells don’t combine in the busy bag. To play, just have your toddler smell the containers and try to find the container that has a matching smell.

Guessing the smell in the bottle - Moms Have Questions Too

Matching the same smelling bottles - Moms Have Questions Too


Smell Matching Busy Bag Tutorial - Moms Have Questions Too

*Want to see more themed activities like this for toddlers or preschoolers? Check out our store page where our toddler and preschool series are compiled into Activity Packs for only $1.99! The Activity Packs are full of lesson plans, printables, and a curriculum guide.

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  1. I truly love this and somehow I never thought to use salt and pepper shakers! Genius! I am seriously going to make these and link back. Thank you thank you thank you!! :)

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