Bat mother smelling game

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Bat mother smelling game
Age Range 3-5 (PreK-K), 5-8 (grades 1-2), 8-11 (grades 3-5)
Group Size medium (6-20)
Setting indoors
Setup Time medium (6-30 min)
Duration medium (11-30 min)
Subjects mammals, baby animals, scent, bats
Key terms mammals, baby animals, scent, bats
Materials film canisters with lids and bottoms numbered (enough for half of the group), a different scent for each canister (examples: vanilla, peppermint, orange, licorice, babypowder, cinnamon, etc.) these can be put on a cotton ball and placed in the canister, blindfolds (optional)
Alias keeping track of baby
Presentation Style active, interactive, model, student led

Brief Description

Students will each be given a smell. Some students will be moms and some will be babies. The blindfolded moms must try to find their babies based on smell alone.


  • Students will simulate the way mammal mothers use scent to find their babies.

Scientific Background

Many animals have a highly developed sense of smell. Often that compensates for a more poorly developed sense of sight or hearing or for the fact that they are active at night or they live in a dark habitat. Bats use their sense of smell and hearing to find their young among the hundreds or thousands of baby bats when they return from a trip outside a cave to feed.

This Is How You Play

  1. Divide the group into two teams. One team is the mammal mothers, and the other team is the mammal babies.
  2. Explain to both teams that each species of mammal has a scent that is different from those of all other mammals. Each mammal mother instinctively knows its baby's scent.
  3. Have the "mothers" stand at one end of the room, and the "babies" stand at the opposite side of the room.
  4. Give each of the mothers a film canister with a scent in it, and tell them to memorize their particular scent. Remove the lids and tell the mothers to hold onto them.
  5. Now, mix up the bottoms of the canisters and give one to each baby. Have the babies stand still, holding their canisters out so that the mothers can sniff them.
  6. Explain that each mother must now find her baby. You can let them go all at once or go one mother at a time.
  7. When all the mothers think they have found their baby, check the numbers on the canister to make sure they are correct.
  8. Switch roles and try again!


Variations for Older Students

  • As a variation, you can also blindfold the "mothers" to show how bats find their babies. Number canisters discreetly and discourage participants from using the numbers on their canister. Liquid scents are ideal as powdery scents can accidentally be inhaled through the nose. Warn students to "smell gently". A nose full of cinnamon is no fun!


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