Spicy Sensory Game: Using Sense of Smell to Focus

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This smelly, spicy sensory game taps into the sense of smell to encourage presence in the moment. Adding a blindfold makes the game even more fun! When you’re done, use the spices to create a cool art project. 

The inspiration for this mindfulness activity came from a fall art project my younger daughter did in her preschool class, where the class made art with spices and herbs they had first smelled.  For our home activity,  we picked some yummy ones — cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. I added our own twist and brought back the blindfold, which was a hit during the Blindfolded Fruit Tasting Game.

When we were done guessing the spices, we used them for some messy, fun art. All in all, this is a really simple sensory game to help tune into the sense of smell, and relax with a fun art project afterwards.

Materials

For the game:

  • A blindfold. A sleeping mask, bandana, scarf or any length of fabric works
  • Three to five different spices with relatively strong scents
  • A small dish for each spice
  • Small Post-It Notes or scraps of paper to label the bottom of each dish

For the art:

  • Medium to heavy weight art paper
  • Straws, toothpicks or other tools
  • Water in a pourable cup
  • Paintbrushes (optional)

How to Do it

Playing the game:

  • Open each spice and smell separately. (It helps to sniff coffee in between to clear the nose).
  • Tap a little of the spice into a small dish
  • Label the Post-It Note paper or whatever you’re using to identify each spice. Place under the dish with that spice in it
  • Blindfold each player one at a time
  • Players take turns smelling each spice dish
  • Players share their guess after each spice

Making the art:

  • Gently pour water in different areas of the paper. You can also use a paintbrush to wet the paper
  • Now gently tap the spices onto the paper
  • Use a straw to blow the spices in different directions, making patterns
  • You can also use a toothpick to move the spices around, swirling them in the water or over the paper

A few samples of our smelly, spicy art!

The Science Behind the Smiles

Whenever we focus on using just one of our five senses, we become more present. Our sense of smell is also one of our most powerful memory triggering senses, bringing us a sense of calm when we smell something connected with a soothing memory. Certain smells also have been found to have an anxiolytic effect, reducing anxiety.

Sources:

What Your Nose Knows: Sense of Smell and Your Health (News In Health)

Linalool Odor-Induced Anxiolytic Effects in Mice (Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience)

 

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