Play this DIY scented cotton ball matching game with your children for a scent-sational twist on traditional matching and memory games.
Scented Cotton Ball Matching Materials:
- Cotton Balls
- Maximum of 6 Essential oils
- Small containers to hold the cotton balls. [Paper Mache Mini Round Box (12-Pack)]
How to Play Scent Matching Game
So often in sensory play, we forget about the sense of smell. When the sense of smell is included in education, it is often not the primary focus. This scent matching memory game makes the sense of smell the focus.
Step 1 — How to Set up Scent Matching Game
- Start with only 2 essential oils. Work up to 6 essential oils. [We started with Peppermint & Lemon as our first two oils and added one new oil at a time until we got to 6 total. We used Lavender, Thieves, Lemon, Stress Away, Peppermint, and Panaway.
- Mark bottom of boxes with each essential oil used in pairs. [We store our marked boxes with the used cotton balls inside and use the same boxes and cotton balls for the same oil every time. Otherwise, the oils will mix and will be hard to tell apart. The boxes also begin to take on the smell of the oils.]
- Place a drop of essential oil on a cotton ball within each box. You only need a drop or two.
- Make sure you are placing the correct essential oil in the correctly marked box each time you play the game.
- Place cotton balls in boxes and set up like a traditional memory matching game.
Step 2 — How to Play Scent Memory Game
- Have your child smell each box to match the essential oils just like a traditional matching game.
- When they match one have them stack them on top of each other and place to the side.
- Like a traditional matching game, this can also be played with two people. Start with only 3 oils and work your way up to 6 total.
Scent Memory Game Rules
- The first player chooses a box, takes off the lid and takes a smell.
- The player then selects another box and smells inside. If they are a match the player hands them to the other player to verify that they match. If both players agree that they match the boxes are stacked. The player is then awarded another turn for making a match and goes again.
- If the boxes do not match they are placed back in the same position and it is now the next player’s turn.
- A players turn is not over until they are unable to make a matching pair. The other player is then allowed to smell each box before they are placed back in play.
- Play continues until all the boxes are stacked in two’s.
- The player with the most matching pairs is the winner — although you may find it to be more of a team effort like we did. 🙂
We found this game to be a fun and challenging twist on the traditional versions of matching and memory games. We hope you enjoy playing them as much as we did.
More Sensory Play with Essential Oils
- Calming Epsom Salt Sensory Play by Fireflies and Mudpies
- Paint with the 5 Senses by The Sprout Mix
- How to Create a Sensory Sand Box by Learning by Design
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Nell has over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the power of the imagination, learning through play, making this world a greener place to live, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…