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Outdoor play activities for kids: smell collecting & natural perfume pots

Getting hands-on with nature is great fun. Have a go at smell collecting or making a natural perfume pot with these outdoor play activities for kids.

Outdoor play isn’t happening anymore. Our research shows that the average child spends less time outside than a prisoner. When was the last time your child played outdoors? To many of us it probably seems like a long time ago when our lives weren’t dominated by screens, and nowadays children spend twice as much time on screens inside as they do playing outside. So we want to ‘Free the Kids’!

As part of our Dirt is Good movement, we’ve set up an app with 100+ outdoor play activity ideas to give you and your kids inspiration for getting active outside. In this article you can find out about the importance of outdoor play and get a taster of the activities available on the app. You can download the Persil Wild Explorers app for free from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

Persil Wild Explorers App

The importance of outdoor play

Outdoor play is vital for a child’s development and here at Persil we believe that children should have the freedom to discover, learn, and get dirty through experiencing hands-on outdoor play activities. That’s why we’ve set up the Dirt is Good project to encourage kids to spend more time outside.

There are many benefits of outdoor play for kids – giving children the chance to embrace nature and explore the world around them allows them to develop essential life skills like independence, bravery, resilience, and curiosity. It doesn’t matter if they get dirty along the way – that’s all part of the learning experience. Dirt is good for kids!  

What is outdoor play?

Outdoor play for kids is all about getting them involved in active, hands-on activities while they are outside. Being outside provides our children with the perfect opportunity to shout, jump, run, hop, and skip. Outdoor play activities also give kids the chance to develop their physical strength, coordination, and motor skills.

The freedom to explore outdoors is not only great for their physical and personal development, but is also an exciting sensory experience for them – feeling cool mud in their hands, sniffing sweet floral scents, or observing creatures in their natural habitats. It may take a little coaxing to tear your child away from a tablet or TV screen but once they’re outside and enjoying outdoor play, they won’t want to come back inside again!  

Fun outdoor play activities to try

To encourage your kids to get outside, learning, playing, and getting dirty, we’ve put together the Persil Wild Explorers app which covers a wide variety of outdoor play activities for kids. There are over a 100 fun outdoor activities to choose from, simply download the app for free from Apple or Google Play and you’re ready to go!

Just remember, supervise your kids at all times, especially when they’re playing outdoors or getting creative with craft supplies, like scissors.

Below are two of our favourite outdoor play activities featured on the app that you can try with your kids. Don’t worry if their clothes get muddy or covered in grass stains while exploring outside, we’ve got lots of handy stain removal tips here.  

Smell collecting

Outdoor play - smell collecting stop motion

How many different smells can your kids collect on a walk through the park or a scout around the garden? Get them using their noses to sniff out fragrant flowers and fresh leaves, and collect these to take home. Things like pond water, flowers, herbs, dirt, or tree leaves are great choices. Then it’s time to do some smell testing!

Get your kids to close their eyes, then you can place the different items in mason jars or plastic containers and get them to guess what’s in each one, just by using their nose. Seal the jars up and then try again tomorrow – see how well the smells have survived, and how much your littles ones’ noses remember, too! Smell collecting is a great activity that challenges your child’s senses and encourages them to learn about different flowers and plants.


For our smell collecting jars, we used: abelia and rosemary, mint and hawthorn, and fir leaves and sage.

Natural perfume pot

Outdoor play - natural perfume pot stop motion

If you’re trying out smell collecting, it’s easy to make a natural perfume pot too. Using the items you collected when foraging in the park or garden, get your kids to gather their favourite smells in a mason jar or an old yoghurt pot container. Crushing leaves or flower buds in your fingers will help the smells really come out. Add different smells to your pot, and mash them up with a stick. Alternatively, carefully arrange the flowers and leaves in your pot to form a pretty display. You can add a small amount of water to your perfume pot to help your plants last longer, or choose ones that will dry out well and still keep their smell, such as lavender.

Once you’ve added all your smells, label your natural perfume pot – your kids can draw a picture on this, stick on sequins, or write a message and give it to a loved one as a gift. Another option is to place your natural perfume pot outside in the garden or on your balcony, and get your kids to keep an eye out to see what animals might be attracted to your pot bumble bee? A butterfly? A robin?

Outdoor play activities - natural perfume pot

In our natural perfume pot, we used: orange blossom, lilacs, and roses.

Download the Persil Wild Explorers app on your Android or iPhone to find out more about these outdoor play activities for kids and many more.

You can also check out the kids’ activities section for lots more ideas on how to get kids playing outdoors.

You could make and fly a kite together, collect and paint pebbles, learn to climb a tree, build a worm farm, or go on a nature walk.