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A Pediatric Perspective

“Scent-sational” Ideas:

Published May 20, 2012 5:47 PM by Cecilia Cruse

As an OT with a background in SI, I think our sense of smell is often overlooked.  Here are some easy suggestions to use olfactory input as a fun way to supplement treatment activities:

  • Add dry JELL-O®mix to watercolor or tempera paints. Or mix up the gelatin with only half the amount of water and have the child paint with the mixture. With either method, when the paint dries, it forms a scratch'n sniff picture! Try lime, cherry and orange flavors.
  • Cinnamon rolls make a great group baking activity. Check out a baking mix recipe such as found with Bisquick. Great for taking turns with tasks (add, stir, rolling out dough etc.) or for an even easier version, just use the instant variety such as those found in the pop open tubes.
  • Grow small pots of simple herbs like lavender and rosemary in a sunny window. One of my sensory smart teachers did this and she would send a sleepy child to the window to cut a snip of rosemary, known for its alerting qualities. For that child that would not calm down after recess, it was a snip of lavender, known for its calming properties.
  • Use scented markers or create your own fragrant crayons by melting old/broken fragments in a can on a warming tray. You can add extracts like vanilla, or an essential oil like lavender then pour the fragrant wax mixture into mini muffin trays or candy molds. For a more kid friendly version, Crayola has a product called Crayon Maker that works off a 60 watt light bulb.

Of course, as with any sensory system, keep in mind safety, moderation and individual sensory preferences when using olfactory input. Hope these ideas help make your treatment sessions more "scent-illating"!  

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