Explore with your senses: Smell

Have you caught the scent of adventure? That’s ‘cause we’re exploring with our senses! We’ve already looked into the fun ways we can play with and test our senses of sight and sound. If you missed them, check them out here!

We’re continuing our journey through the senses with the super sense of smell. Our sense of smell is amazing, and we pick up so many scents on a daily basis – whether it’s waking up to smell the coffee in the morning, absorbing all the scents of the outdoors on our daily walks or, of course, sniffing down the trail of the crafty crook on a Treasure Trail. We use our noses all the time when we’re awake, and it even helps us to taste too!

Smell - Treasure Trails

But there’s more to our sense of smell than we realise, and more ways we can play with it and test it out for fun! Check out our fun facts and sensory activities that will help you explore with your sense of smell.

Sensational facts about smell

There are lots of cool things you may not know about your nose and sense of smell.

  • In 2014, scientists discovered that the human nose can detect one trillion scents!
  • Our sense of smell is closely linked to our memory. We accurately remember scents more than we can remember things we’ve seen, heard, tasted or touched. Also, smells can actually trigger our memory - that’s why when you smell ice cream, you may suddenly remember a trip to the seaside as a child. 
  • Our sense of smell is unique. Everyone has their own unique scent – almost like a fingerprint – with the only exception being identical siblings. We also smell things differently, so something that smells lovely to you may smell awful to the next person. 
Smell - amazing fact
  •  Our sense of smell tends to decrease as we get older, peaking in our late teens. However, there are times when it is boosted – during the spring and summer when there's more moisture in the air, after exercise, during pregnancy, etc. 
  • Some people have no sense of smell at all, which is called anosmia. It could be worse, though. If you have cacosmia, you only smell really nasty scents – even freshly baked bread or a bunch of flowers will smell horrid. 

But what about sound in the rest of nature?

Animals rely on their sense of smell for a lot more than we do, including tracking predators and prey.

  • Animals have their own favourite smells. Cats love the smell of valerian and, of course, catnip. Lions have their own versions of catnip, too – peppermint and lavender! 
  • It’s believed that bears have the best sense of smell of any land animal. Black bears can smell food that’s 18-20 miles away, while polar bears can smell a seal through three feet of ice and have been known to detect their prey when it’s over 40 miles away! 

Explore with scents at home

There are tonnes of ways that you can explore with your sense of smell at home, whether indoors or in your garden. Try these activities out!

Activity #01: Get a whiff of this!

When spring is springing, there's no better time to stop and smell the roses… Well, daffodils, at any rate!

Take a minute, whether in your garden or on a daily walk to a park or green space, to take a step back and take in all the natural scents of the great outdoors. Once the minute is over, try to figure out which smells came from where and point them out. How many distinct scents did you notice? Were they subtle or strong? Did any smell sweet?

If you’ve got a sensory garden in your local area, try heading there instead! They’re designed to stimulate several senses and the same time, not just your sense of smell.

Activity #02: Something smells suspicious…

Now that you’ve fine-tuned your noses, it’s time for a game! Gather your family or household and have each member secretly pick out three things in your house that emit an odour.

Then, you’ll need to take it in turns to test each other’s sense of smell. Have everyone else in the household be blindfolded, then present the three smells one at a time to see whether they can figure out what they are!

CAUTION: You’ll need to have an adult sensory explorer check that all of the scents are suitable for smelling before you hold the blindfold tests. Please read any warnings on packages and avoid chemical-based scents.

Activity #03: Your creativity nose no bounds!

Let’s get crafty! Did you know you can make your own sweet-smelling scents right at home? Play around with some pretty scent combinations and make your own potpourri! You can use flowers, fruits or spices to create bowls full of creative scents to make your home even more welcoming. Take a peek at these ideas and instructions.

If potpourri isn’t quite your thing, why not try making your own essential oils? Pick out your favourite smelling plants – lavender, rosemary and mint work really well – then follow these instructions to create your bespoke essential oil.

smelling nature

What a puzzling sense…smell!

For smell, your puzzle requires you to brave the stench as you navigate our fishy maze! So, nose pegs at the ready, explorers…take a deep breath, and off you go! We hope to see you on the other side. Solve the just-for-fun puzzle, then find the answers below. Good luck!

TT Smell puzzle

Make ’em laugh!

Explorer Joke Time

Sniff out the evidence on a Treasure Trail!

Now that you’ve challenged yourselves to some fun sensory activities, it’s time to test your sense of smell on a Trail adventure! Use it to pick up the scent the culprit may have left behind, sniff out any potential booby traps and get a whiff of anything amiss on your top-secret mission. 

But, while you’re out and about, try to stay conscious of everything your nose is picking up. Enjoy the aroma of more stunning flowers in the green spaces or the salty sea air on a coastal route; try not to get distracted when solving a clue outside a bakery…wait, what’s that scent? The sweet smell of success, of course – you cracked the case!


Explore with your senses on a Treasure Trail

Keep your nose to the ground for more fun with your senses!

Our journey through the senses may be over, but you can still go back and test out your skills as a qualified sensory explorer. Follow this link to keep exploring the five senses.