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Smelly Play!

Following from our last post about the importance of their sense of smell for babies and young children, today we share a few ideas to bring the sense of smell into your play times.

While exploring smells doesn’t need to be a separate activity, and it is great to let your little one smell different ingredients while you are cooking, fresh flowers or herbs, or your favourite body lotion as you go through your day, here are some simple but fun ways to make it the focus of a play session with your little one, helping them develop that sense of smell even further.

  • Make some smelly bottles - use reusable empty children's water bottles with a flip or sports lid. There are many different smelly items you can add including, fresh herbs, spices, a herbal tea bag, lemon /ginger/peppermint, garlic cloves, even different flavours of jelly cubes. You could also soak some cotton wool in cooled coffee or lemon juice and add these into the bottles. Flip, or pull the lid up and gently squeeze the bottle under little ones nose so they get a puff of scented air from inside the bottle. You will notice their reaction immediately and be able to see what they like and dislike.

  • Make a natural soup - add fruit slices, fresh herbs or petals to a bowl of water. Give your little one a spoon to stir with. They could also mix the mixture with their hands to conjure up some lovely smells.

  • Homemade scented play dough – there are a number of recipes and scents you can use to make play dough. Try coconut, vanilla, lavender or herbs, or have a go at the one described below.

While preparing for her classes, one of our franchisees Kaye, tried out mint scented dough with her own children. Here’s how they got on;

Mint Scented Play Dough

"So we had “smells week” in classes this week so I got my own kids involved in making some smelly play dough for the little ones and themselves! Everyone in class loved it so I promised to post the recipe on the blog so you could all have a go.

There are a few different flavours you can make but this one I did was mint scented play dough.

Ingredients are as follows:

2 cups of plain flour

½ a cup of salt

Dried mint flakes

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs cream of tartar (found in the baking aisle often as little sachets but Aldi recently have been selling it in big tubs!)

1 ½ cups of water

Green food colouring

Mint/peppermint essence

First mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and mint flakes together and prepare the water by adding the food colouring and mint/peppermint essence. You can also create the mint smell by boiling the water with mint tea bags and then using that after it has cooled.

Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add the vegetable oil then pour on a little of the water.

Mix all this with your hands, it gets nice and messy and sticky, then keep gradually adding the water and mixing in. You may not use all the water or you may use some more, just keep adding and see. Squish together with your hands until it has a nice, play dough like texture then you’re ready to play!

You can squish it and shape it, cut shapes into it with cookie cutters.

With my kids we also added coffee beans to make faces and to add to the sensory experience, just be careful with babies as you don’t want them to choke on the beans.

Remember you can covert this basic recipe by trying out other different smells and colours and see what you get." Kaye, Newport and Cwmbran

When preparing your smelly play activities do try to get lots of variety and don’t forget to also introduce your little one to smells you may not be keen on, so your little one has the chance to be exposed to a variety of aromas not just the sweet smelling ones.

As always be guided by your child and follow their interests as much as you can during play times. Do let us know how you get on and what other ideas you come up for introducing the sense of smell into your play times!

Need more inspiration for your playtimes at home? Come and join us at classes or take a look at our downloadable Play at Home Guides for lots more sensory ideas, musical fun and physical play activities all designed to help boost your little one’s development as you enjoy special time together. Happy

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