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Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Moms Guide to Scented Sensory Play

(Linky included to add your scented sensory play at the end of this post)

At the end of March 2012, I was browsing through Wal-Mart in search of interesting items to incorporate into my Twins water play in our backyard play environment. I came across the spice section and noticed food flavoring extracts and right then an idea was born that would take off all over the internet! I purchased a bottle of mint extract and then went home to set up some lovely scented water play fun!! The instant that I added the mint extract to the water dispenser and brita water dispenser, I knew I was on to something!! It smelled amazing and my twins LOVED IT!!!!! From that day on, I added it to everything!!  Water tables, baking soda and vinegar play, paint, cloud dough, pasta play, playdough, bath time, the inflatable pool, rice play, etc!!! Soon other Moms caught on to the idea through Pinterest and went wild with it!! I do not always have time to post about every single thing we do, so I thought that it was high time to write up a guide to scented sensory play!!

You can see my first scented water play post here, done a week after my twins first scented play experience!

Check out a few of our scented sensory play posts:
Adding scent to your child's play really opens up the imagination and contributes more to what they are playing with. Scent breathes life into their playtime. You may already have provided a fun scented sensory play experience for your child and just not even realized it. Scent can come from many sources. You do not have to buy food flavoring extract to create a scented sensory play experience. You can use a variety of things.

Check out this list of sources for scented sensory play:
  • Food Flavoring Extracts
  • Non-Spicy Spices/herbs
  • Aromatherapy oils and Scent Dispensers
  • Fresh Fruit 
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Loose teas or tea bags
  • Scented Candles
  • Fresh Flowers
  • Scented Body Wash
  • Scented Shaving Cream
  • Essential Oils
  • Brewed Herbal Teas
  • Citrus Peels
  • Scented Lotion
  • Lightly Scented Body Sprays
  • Scented Liquid Baby Bath Soap
  • Cake Frosting Flavor mix-in packets
  • Coffee Beans, fresh grounds, or used grounds

Basically anything you are setting up for your children to play with, or even bath time can be scented. Just be creative and have fun with it, be sure to play along or just sit nearby them to be present when your children play, they appreciate it more than you could ever imagine!

You can create all types of scenes with water tables, sand tables, sensory tables, sensory bins, baths, etc. by using simple decorations or props purchased at dollar stores, party stores, wal mart, target, big lots, etc. Just trust yourself and use that beautiful mind you were born with to create themes for playtime. You can create holiday, seasonal, animal, educational, career related play themes for any kind of indoor or outdoor play scenario you set up for your children. It can be very simple or very in depth. No idea is a stupid idea if your child enjoys it!! This is where the scent ideas can can really come into play!! Add scent to breathe life into your themed play or play invitations! You could make a jungle themed play smell like bananas! You could make summertime water play smell like lemons, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, or any other summery fruit scent!

You can:
  • Add scent to your bubble machine
  • Add scent to dry or cooked pasta play
  • Add scent to slime, goop, gak, oobleck play
  • Add scent to water bead or water polymer play
  • Add scent to science experiment related play
  • Add scent to vinegar and baking soda science play
  • Add scent to the bath 
  • Add scent to water tables or sensory tables
  • Add scent to sensory bins
  • Add scent to sand tables
  • Add scent to messy play
  • Add scent to shaving cream play
  • Add scent to painting, finger painting, any kind of painting play
  • Add scent to playdough/play-doh play
  • Add scent to glow in the dark or black light play
  • Add scent to glow in the dark or blacklight messy/sensory play
  • Add scent to paper by lightly spraying it with a nice lightly scented body spray
  • Add scent to crafts by lightly spraying with a nice lightly scented body spray
  • Add scent to the room by lighting a nice light scented candle (keep in a safe out of reach place)

You want to always use common sense and safety precautions with anything, which includes scented sensory play. You would want to be sure your child did not rub their eyes with their hands while participating in scented sensory play. You would also want to be sure that your child did not put anything they were playing with into their mouth. You would also want to take precautions and not have your child sit immersed in water that had something that could irritate their skin, eyes, or privates. Keep in mind when your child is sitting in immersed water that some things can cause infections to irritation to their privates. I hate to bring up something so taboo to speak of but I want to be sure that the parents that read this blog post know that your children can not just sit immersed in anything. Just because something is okay for them to put their hands or feet into, doesn't mean it is okay for them to sit immersed in. Your child could get a kidney infection, urinary tract infection, or something similar if they are sitting immersed in water that has something in it that could cause such types of infections. When I was a child in the 1980's, my Mom and Dad always bought Mr. Bubble brand bubble bath to add to my baths. It was great, I loved the scent and the bubbles. Well it turned out that myself and hundreds of children around the US were getting icky urinary tract and kidney infections from sitting immersed in this lovely bubble bath.  So please, do your homework and utilize google to be sure that what your child will be bathing in or swimming in is not going to make them sick a few days later. If in doubt, call and ask your Pediatrician's office.  I know that if you add just a few drops of food flavoring extract into their bath or inflatable pool, they will be ok.  Most scented body washes, scented baby baths, and shaving creams should be ok.  I personally would never let my children bathe in squishy baff(sold at wal-mart) or highlighter infused water.  However those things are fine in water tables, sensory bins, the sink, etc.  Please also take any severe allergies your child has into mind as well. Sometimes with a child that has severe allergies, less is more. So maybe restrict the amount of something you would scent with. Never use spicy or even slightly spicy peppers, Avoid onions, radishes, or any other super strong and irritating vegetables. Avoid any spices with a kick to them like curry, garlic, or onion powder. You can use cinnamon powder, curry, or other kicky spices inside balloons to make scented sensory balloons but be sure to be right with your children while they play with them and be sure you make your child aware that popping sensory balloons is not an option. Be your own judge of what your child can handle but also trust your child to be able to understand and follow proper safety instructions when playing. You can teach a child that is 2 years old to safely use scissors, use glass jars for educational play like sorting things on a light table, etc. Just always avoid yelling NO and instead, explain short and sweetly to them what they may and may not do when playing. You can firmly but gently and clearly say things like "that stays out of your mouth" and don't be afraid to repeat that each and every time they attempt to put something in their mouth that should not go into their mouth for whatever safety reasons. You can firmly but gently and clearly say "no popping the balloon" if they are attempting to pop the balloon. Please keep in mind that an activity that your child may not have done well with in your opinion this week could be an activity that they follow rules and do well with next week. The golden rule of gentle but firm instruction, and avoiding bluntly shouting NO is "if at first it doesn't go well, try, try and try again and again" because it will eventually get better.

Thank you to True Aim for hosting this wonderful linky!!

Check out Treasure Hunt Games by True Aim by clicking HERE

The Great Scented Sensory Play Link up:


  1. thanks for letting me share. we love scented sensory play too:-)

  2. So many great ideas! I have never thought of incorporating scent into sensory play before. My favorite idea is to add scent to play dough! It just makes sense :)

  3. This is a great list, lots of ideas! My favorite thing we've done to add scents to our play is growing lots of herbs in the pots in our outdoor play area, which reminds me it's time to start thinking about getting that going for the year soon.

  4. What an inclusive list!

  5. Wow, so many ideas! I've pinned and will be sharing on Facebook as part of my (delayed!) KBN shout out. Thank you!


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