It’s a beautiful day today so this is a great activity for your yard or local park (that’s where I’m headed!)
Fun for any age, but some grown-up/big-Kid help is needed. As few as 2 people.
For today’s activity you will need:
1 small onion
A responsible person to use a sharp knife to cut it in half (if doing this activity inside, cut the onion into 1” cubes)
Warning: Lots of things in our homes have a scent and some of them can be dangerous to inhale. We are going to stick to food items or essential oils (if your adult says it's ok, but just a few drops will go a long way).
Option for indoor space: If you need to do this activity inside you can hide pieces of an onion (or 1 drop of essential oil on a cotton ball) around your house. Just don’t forget where you hid the onion!
Background. Most humans rely on eye sight, but our other senses are amazing as Karen pointed out yesterday. Think of how many animals lead with their noses. Admittedly, the noses of dogs, cats, and bears are much more powerful than ours, being able to detect very subtle scents very far away, because they have more olfactory receptors than we do. But today, our noses are going to lead us on a quest.
One person should take 1 half of the onion and head outside, while the other person waits inside without peeking. You are going to rub the cut side of the onion on surfaces to leave a trail of onion scent. The object is for the other person to be able to follow your trail just using their nose. We are going to stick to natural and non-fancy surfaces (think trees, flower beds, and fence posts rather than tables, chairs, or the house). Once you have made a trail invite the other person to come outside and try to follow where you went, sniffing with their nose!
- Make a treasure hunt! Hide a toy or small treat at the end of your scent trail.
- Play hide and seek, but leave a scented trail for the seeker to find where you are hiding.
- Each person could have a different scented object and you both make a scent trail. Then you see if you can follow each other's trail!
It has long been thought that birds have a poorly developed sense of smell and yet the myth has endured that if you touch a baby bird its mom will smell your human scent and abandon the nestling. This is not true! Read here about what to do if you find a baby bird this spring.
The truth as we understand it now is that some birds have a very good sense of smell. Turkey Vultures are one of my favorite signs of spring and they find food (dead animals) with their powerful noses.
Learn more about Turkey Vultures here:
Adult level reading: www.audubon.org/magazine/january-february-2014/birds-can-smell-and-one-s...
Kid friendlier: https://www.marylandzoo.org/animal/turkey-vulture/