Thursday, May 24, 2012

Smelly What? A Great Motivator and Teaching Tool

After years of struggling with getting my kindergartners to learn their left versus their right, I finally found the answer! It's a double whammy, too, because it is something that I use as a reward for my students as well.
I have to give a shout out to my best kindergarten colleague Stephanie for originally introducing me to "smellies"(Thanks Mrs. S!). "Smellies" are simply chapsticks that come in all different flavors, colors, and smells that you swipe on your students hand as a reward. I use them EVERY day at the beginning of the school year to encourage my students to follow the right method of packing up and getting ready to go home at the end of the day. If they do what they need to (and they all do, of course!), they get a "smelly" on the top of their (here's where the teaching begins) right hand.
The rule in my room is that smellies can only go on right hands. If you do this every day at the beginning of the year for, let's say, 3 weeks, the students really begin to know which hand to give you for their smelly. They've learned their right and, inadvertently, their left as well! It is so funny to watch them as the year goes on figuring out left from right by putting their right hand up to their mouth to "sniff" it. Almost all of my kinders will know their left from right when they leave my classroom and it's all thanks to the "smellies".
A great time to pick up smellies to add to your collection (the more variety you have, the better, of course!) is after holidays when the stocking and basket stuffer smelllies are reduced in price, but not if flavor!  I keep my collection housed in a pencil box that is filled to the brim...this is the reward for students that costs next to nothing (I still have the first smelly I bought, because they last forever!) and never gets old with children.  The students love to sniff and lick (yes, I said lick) their hand over and over again.
Other ways to use smellies for children of different ages include potty training, test taking, a calming mechanism, a distraction for anxious children, proper audience behaviors and more!  If you can think of other ways to use smellies, please feel free to comment below!

It also makes a great gift for teachers (think end of the year!), child care providers and home schoolers!  It's the gift that keeps on giving.


  1. I call mine "Happy Chappy"!! I love them too!!

  2. Yes I am a SMELLY believer!!! I usually have some children that still didn't know their left from right by the end of the year but...not this year because of smellies!!!! Yeah!!! Thank you for posting this. One less thing for me to stress about and it was fun! :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by to comment, ladies! Smellies are a fun addition to any type of learning environment! Krissy

  4. I do the same thine expect I call mine "Smelly Scents". My students absolutely love them.

    The Teacher's Backpack

  5. Too cute...gotta do this next year!!

  6. What a fun idea for helping children learn right from left! This would be a great teacher appreciation gift! I pinned your post to my Teacher Appreciation Pinterest Board at

  7. BRILLIANT! Thanks for sharing!

  8. My smellies are on my nametag necklace, so we have them everywhere we go. I bought the kind with the little hole in the lid to hang on a chain, and I just switch out the lids to change smellies. I never thought of using them to teach left and right...I'll do that next year!

  9. Great idea! I am going to try this next year. I had a colleague that used to put a dab of hand lotion on the kiddos.

  10. This is a great idea. I have kids who swear every sticker they get is a smelly one so they'd love this. Are there any special kinds that are better for kids with sensitive skin or sensitive parents? or brands to stay away from for similar reasons?

  11. Very good "educational" tool! Dr. Jean calls them Happy Chappy. My kids loved getting them and the different smells had them sniffing their hands all day!


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