Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DIY Smelling Bottles

Smelling bottles are a standard material in the Sensorial area of a Montessori classroom. The purpose is for the child to develop their sense of smell. The process is simple - the child sniffs their way through the bottles trying to match two identical scents.

This is one of those materials I couldn't see purchasing because they seemed easy enough to make. And they were! These have been a work in progress for a looong time. I use McCormick spices when I cook and even though I cook a lot it still took me nearly a year to save up enough bottles for this project!

Here's how I made them:
::I selected 8 identical glass bottles, each with a flip top. The top doesn't matter so much, I just thought they were fun! :)
::I cleaned the bottles thoroughly to remove any leftover scents from the spices.
::I filled each bottle with a handful of cotton balls, which mask the the appearance of the scents and make the activity more challenging.
::I sparingly poured in one extract per bottle. I used four different kinds of extracts in total - vanilla, peppermint, orange, and coconut. I chose extracts because my bottles are clear, but if you use plastic or wood bottles you can get away with using herbs, spices and other food items as your scents.

::I labeled one half of the bottles with a blue star and the other half with a red star.

::I created a control of error by subtly marking the bottoms of the bottles with dots (using a permanent marker). So, for example, the two peppermint scented bottles will have one dot, the two vanilla scented bottles will have two dots, and so on.

The hardest part was finding a good box for these. There are actually supposed to be 12 bottles in total, 2 sets of 6 scents - I'll add to this collection over time as there are several more extracts available.

To learn how to present smelling bottles, click here.


~Thank you for your comments!~

29 comments:

Lindsay said...

Great job Mari-Ann these look like so much fun!

The girl who painted trees said...

I've been saving up Stonyfield yogurt smoothie bottles for this and to make baric bottles. It's taking a long time because I only buy them when I have a coupon :-P I've made smelling bottles though before using baby food jars.
http://theadventuresofbear.blogspot.com/2009/09/five-senses.html

Debbie said...

Love this idea! I knew I was saving spice bottles for a reason (now I can explain to my dh why I'm keeping empty spice bottles). I don't have enough yet, however. Anyway, thanks for sharing! I'll have to keep my eye out for a good box, too.

Savannah said...

what a neat and simple idea..thanks for sharing! will keep this one in mind for sure

Michelle said...

Hmmm, I'm going to have to start collecting spice bottles! I'm almost through a cinnamon and I just threw away a couple others, argh.

Minara said...

love this idea! leaving you a comment for the space giveaway

claudeabgood said...

This is such a great activity, I'd forgotten about this one from when I worked in Montessori. I can't wait to make some for my little one!

Katherine said...

I love this - would love to add something like this to my classroom!

TheRockerMom said...

What a great way to recycle all of those empty spice containers! When Robbie was younger, I placed spices/coffee/etc into coffee filters and closed them as an introduction to his sense of smell.

In case anyone is interested:
Feeding the Senses: Kitchen Aromas

Andrea said...

Thanks Mari-Ann, I was planning on making my own too and really like yours for inspiration!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Love it!!

Miller Moments said...

what a great idea!

The Hemleys Blog said...

Hi Mari-Ann

Excellent, my comment for today for the give-away - but also because I love this work.

Don't know if you've watched the free Margaret Homfray videos. She was a friend of Maria M and helped Montessori write the english programme.

In the video on smelling bottles, she mentions to only use 3 or 4 matches. The website says, " If there are too many pairs, everything begins to smell the same."

http://homepage.mac.com/montessoriworld/mwei/sensory/smell.html

She also has another nifty idea to make small bags that you stuff into the bottles, with dried herbs, coffee, teas etc. Which I think add to making the work interesting and cyclable.

Good work!
Hugs,
Tracey

irbystreet said...

Love it! I have been saving my spice bottles since this summer for this very thing! I'm so glad I did because yours turned out so cute! :)

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you for your comments!

@Tracy: Thanks for sharing that information and link. I am very familiar with history of Ms. Homfrey and her videos. Between the video, my training and various websites there is conflicting information as to the "correct" number of bottles, so my intention is to just chose a quantity that works for us and go from there. :)

Rachel said...

Great job and great idea!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Olives and Pickles said...

Fantastic idea good mama!!

Amy said...

I love that you mentioned how hard it was to find the right box - I am just starting to collect things to set up for learning shelves at our home, and finding just the right box/tray/container is harder than I thought!

Fiona said...

Love this idea! It wouls take me forever to save so many spice bottles lol

Deb Chitwood said...

Thanks for showing such an attractive, yet inexpensive way to make your own smelling bottles! I agree that DIY is definitely the way to go for smelling bottles at home. I love that you always find a way to follow the Montessori principle of preparing an attractive environment ... each material you present appears so lovingly and attractively prepared.
I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

Joyce said...

We are doing a program on Kitchen Chemistry at the library and we used clear film canisters and cotton balls.

Elle Belles Bows said...

Definitely, Definitely trying it! Thanks so much! Kerri

Jen said...

Ooooo I love these, I want a set for myself! I appreciate how you find everyday things that we can all find and use.

kinnari said...

I love the smelling bottles idea!!

Umm Umamah said...

Hi Mary Ann,
Congratulations on your pregnancy. May you be blesses by a wonderful healthy child. Amen :)

Love smelling bottles, here are ours.. we used salt and pepper shakers:
http://umamahlearningacademy.blogspot.com/2011/01/toddler-fun-activities-3.html

Dawns Discovery Tree House said...

I love this idea.
I have a bunch of small baby food jars would this work just as good, if not what can I buy that wouldn't require alot of money and something I don't normally use.

Deb Chitwood said...

I just featured your post and photo of your lovely smelling bottles at http://livingmontessorinow.com/2011/07/18/activity-of-the-week-diy-montessori-smelling-bottles/

Haleema said...

very good ideas... thanx

Deb Chitwood said...

I just published a post on the Montessori principle of control of error. I featured your photo and post at http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/04/23/montessori-monday-control-of-error/

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