DIY Montessori Inspired Smelling Bottles for Toddlers

The sense of smell is so taken for granted. But where would we be without it to let us know there is something delicious cooking in the oven, wonderful flowers growing in the garden or that we just stepped in something nasty. We would be able to get by, but life would be that little bit more dull. Maria Montessori emphasised the importance of using and refining ALL the senses and among the sensorial works she created are the Smelling Bottles.

As Little Bean is only two and inspired by this post at Mama’s Happy Hive, I decided to remove the matching element from the work, making it more of a sensory exploration. She enjoyed these little bottles, the only problem I had was that she wanted to feel and taste the contents as well! As she is more than capable of unscrewing lids now, I had to supervise her when using this material.


Sorry about the busy photos, I live in Scotland and am struggling for enough natural light for taking pictures. I had to share the windowsill with all my plants! So, in case you can’t see these clearly, we have three different scents here, orange, cinnamon and lavender.


The bottles I used are empty spice bottles, all from Morrisons supermarket and all with flip tops with little holes. They were given a good clean to remove any residual smells. I decided to leave the contents visible as she wasn’t going to be matching scents and so she could connect the scent with the object. I think it also adds some attractiveness and interest. For the orange bottle I added a cut piece of satsuma with the skin left on. I had bought some orange essense to use as well but didn’t need to in the end, the orange smelled strong enough on its own.


I used cinnamon sticks in the next bottle. I discovered that the sticks don’t actually smell very cinnamony UNTIL they have been steeped in hot water. I actually discovered this after dunking a stick in my tea 😄


The last bottle holds some dried lavender sprigs. Again, this smelled strong enough that I didn’t need to add any lavender essential oil.

And that’s it, really simple. The hardest thing was patiently waiting until I had three empty bottles!

Peace, Nat

P.S. This post is linking up with with Montessori Monday!


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