Early years and childcare activities

View our latest childcare activity guide below, written by our early years experts.

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Herby smelling pots

Encourage children to investigate herbs and develop their language skills to describe what they experience. You can then incorporate their favourite herbs in the coming week's meals.

Learning aims:

  • Child smelling herbExploring using the senses, particularly smell
  • Using descriptive language
  • Awareness of self and talking about feelings e.g. likes and dislikes
  • Observe changes
  • Gain an awareness of the natural world
  • Keeping healthy
  • Being imaginative.


  • Containers with lids
  • Variety of fresh herbs e.g. rosemary, mint, chives, basil, parsley, lemon thyme, tarragon, crushed garlic or wild garlic leaves, rose or lavender petals. Curry plants also have a strong smell
  • Dried herbs
  • Water
  • Pestle and mortar or small bowls and child-sized rolling pins.

Activity outline:

  • Encourage children to investigate each herb in their natural state
  • Include pictures of the herbs growing in their natural habitat and talk about what herbs need to grow
  • Support children to crush the fresh herbs and place in the plastic jars/containers with lids. You can also use dried herbs in a little water
  • Encourage children to smell each one and describe what they can smell. Record their descriptive language
  • Ask children which ones they like and dislike. You could record this on a chart
  • Talk about how herbs can flavour food. Can they think of anything they may have tried at home? Or at nursery?
  • You could help children to identify these in dishes they may have already tasted or incorporate them into the coming week’s menu so they can see how they are used
  • You could involve children in the cooking process by using the herbs to make garlic bread, egg and chive sandwiches, or even a curry!

Special considerations:

  • Children with allergies.

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