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Smelly Socks

To appreciate the importance of and celebrate our sense of smell.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To appreciate the importance of, and celebrate, our sense of smell.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a number of items with characteristic fragrance or odour, e.g. a scented rose, lavender, mint leaves, orange peel or banana skin, a strong-smelling sweet, freshly baked bread, shoe or furniture polish, a newly printed magazine.
  • Also a sock washed using fabric conditioner.


  1. Invite a number of children to come forward, and to close their eyes while smelling the items. Ask them to identify what they can smell. Have fun with the sock, which should be introduced last of all. Point out that some smells are pleasant, while others are not. Socks can be horribly smelly!

  2. Reflect that our sense of smell can add to our enjoyment of being alive. What smells do the children remember and like?
    Does the school have any distinctive smells?
    Are there any special 'summer' smells? e.g. newly cut grass, hot tar on the pavement, blossom and flowers, strawberries!

  3. Point out that while many smells are attractive (e.g. cooking food), some are unpleasant (e.g. the smell of food that has gone bad). Smells can also warn us of danger, e.g. the smell of burning if the food is left too long on the cooker.

  4. Explain that many creatures have a keener sense of smell than human beings. Specially trained police dogs can track and sniff out people who are lost or hiding. Their noses are different from ours.

  5. Encourage the children to be more aware of their sense of smell and to be thankful for it. Explain that you're going to teach them a special song about this.

    Fun song: Smelly Socks
    Words by Alan Barker

    These words may be sung to the tune of 'Thank you Lord for this fine day', with a pause in the fourth line for the imaginary smells to be sniffed and the final response spoken.

    Can you smell the scented flowers?
    Can you smell the scented flowers?
    Can you smell the scented flowers?
    (sniff) Aah!

    Can you smell the baking bread? (three times)
    (sniff) Yum, yum!

    Can you smell the burning toast? (three times)
    (sniff) Oops!

    Can you smell Dad's smelly socks? (three times)
    (sniff) Ugh!!

    Let's all get some clean fresh air (three times)
    (deep breath) That's better!

Time for reflection

(Explain that the words 'fragrance', 'aroma' and 'scent' are all used to describe smells.)

Creator God,
Thank you for our noses
and the many different things that we can smell.
For familiar fragrances that we know well
and for new scents and aromas that excite our senses.


'Smelly Socks', as above, to the tune of 'Thank you Lord' (Come and Praise, 32)

Publication date: May 2002   (Vol.4 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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