our easy and exciting backyard fragrance experiment

It’s been impossible to ignore that springtime (or is it summer?) has arrived in full-force, so for the last few days, we’ve been enjoying our own backyard, our easy backyard fragrance experiment brand-new pup, and talking about our five senses.  Today, we focused our attention on our sense of smell and conducted a very simple–but very exciting–backyard flower fragrance experiment.

What better way to sneak in a little bit of learning, a great new vocabulary word, and some at-home exploring?  And the super-cool part of it all? All of our science learning was done to honor and celebrate my friend. . .

  • Backyard Fragrances: Any time I give my kiddos the ‘go’ to hunt for flowers in our yard is a great day in their book.  To have permission to walk around and cut one of every flower? Although Cora was occupied by Brady, Maddy and Owen were more than excited to comply when I asked them to do this.

We walked around together with pair of scissors, taking turns spotting flowers and making cuttings.

We clipped flowers from trees, from bushes, from baskets, flowerbeds, and hanging baskets.  We snipped every color we could find and swatted away bees along the way.  We knew we were on a mission to find one of each flower in our yard, and that’s what we did.

 all of our found flowers, dumped on the table

When we circled the yard, and Maddy’s basket was full, we headed to the back porch.  I said, I love the way that springtime smells.  The flowers are blooming, the trees are flowering, and everything smells fresh and new.  Did you smell the flowers that Cora and I found on our walk earlier today? I think they might be the most fragrant flower around.  ‘Fragrance’ is another word for ‘smell’.  Like Fancy Nancy says, it’s a ‘fancier’ word for ‘smell’.

You could say, ‘I like the way this flower smells’, or you could say, ‘I like this flower’s fragrance’.  Let’s spread out all of the flowers we found and figure out which ones have strong fragrances, or strong smells, and the ones that have weak fragrances.

We’ll put the ones that smell strongly here, near the sign that says, ‘Most Fragrant’.  The ones that only smell a little or not at all we’ll put here, where it says, ‘Least Fragrant’. 

I wanted to introduce Maddy and Owen to a new word, ‘fragrant’, and I wanted to have them compare the flowers to each other, using their sense of smell to determine whether one was more or less fragrant than another.  ‘More’ and ‘less’ are super math vocabulary words to get our kiddos familiar with and comfortable using.  So during our ‘experiment’, we all practiced using phrases like, ‘This flower is more fragrant than the tulip,’ or ‘The purple flower is less fragrant than the other ones.’.

 our flowers were ready for the line-up

We started with the one that Cora and I found–and I wasn’t hung up on names of flowers because really just wanted to focus on one thing at a time–but we started with the Most Fragrant flower and compared each of the other flowers to it.  

The flowers with little or no smell we put closer to the Least Fragrant sign, and those in the middle, we placed accordingly.  We debated some, smelled, and sniffed some more, but our point was not to nail down absolutes; it was to use our sense of smell to determine which flowers on this particular day had the strongest fragrance.  

Because some were on their way out and others were more fresh, fragrances varied considerably, and we did have trouble when Maddy got stuck on some ‘bad’ smelling flowers that she wanted out of our list. But the experiment was fun, it wasn’t that involved, and it got us a little closer to nature on an absolutely gorgeous afternoon.

And this final (somewhat fragrant!) bouquet is for my good pal, Susan, for whom we dedicate this science-y post.

Susan is the awesome, crazy-smart and wicked cool creator of Toddler Planet, where she writes about life as a planetary scientist (she’s my only astrophysicist friend, ever!), a mother of two young (and adorable and smart and kind!) boys, a wife of an incredible man, and a fighter of breast cancer.

Susan is one of the strongest, most talented writers I know..  Not only is she working on a book, but she also writes for Mothers With Cancer.  Susan is my inspiration for exploring grant opportunities for my teacher pals at we teach, and she is the reason that I joined Love/Avon’s Army of Women.  I want to do what I can to secure more concrete and conclusive breast cancer research so that we finally get some absolutes, some answers–a cure!–for breast cancer.  Please join me.

Susan will undergo surgery 2.0 tomorrow, so we are rallying behind her in prayer, celebration, and support in a Virtual Science Fair, led by my friend Jean, of Stimeyland.  Check out what other cool science-y things my pals are doing and send many prayers in the direction of our friend, Susan.  We know she can kick this!




  1. DiPaola Momma says

    Oh this is a great experiment and a wonderful way to honor our friend. We're doing a Planet Party tonight. Busting out the dusty old telescope and our planetary maps and taking advantage of the warm evening. I suspect that Susan can smell that bouquet and feel all our support.


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