The Kids are Alright: DEMETER Fragrance Library in the Classroom: Part 1
I suppose I knew that going into a kindergarten class to wake up kids about their sense of smell would be a lot of fun, but I didn’t expect that the kids were going to bring a heightened attention, thoughtfulness, and slight seriousness to the art of smelling. To my surprise, these 5 and 6 year-olds were fully engaged most days for 40 minutes. We worked in small groups twice a week over three weeks, and we mostly did blind smelling, meaning I had them guess what was on each blotter. The beautiful thing is I never directly asked the kids to tell me about memories or stories related to what they smelled, their reactions just naturally poured out of them.
The idea for going into the classroom came to me after I had listened to an art historian from Rotterdam on a webinar entitled, “Smell This” (pretty obscure, I know.) Listen to it here…http://www.v2.nl/events/test_lab_smell_this. The webinar focused on a “youth” survey where the majority of kids said they would rather give up their sense of smell than give up their electronic devises. She then continued to state that luckily in the near future these kids won’t have to make that kind of decision; scent will finally catch up to technology or vice versa, but in the meantime this put me in a bit of a spin, and I was going to do something about it. Right about the same time I met up with Carlos Huber, Arquiste Parfumeur, and I mentioned how important it was to get kids smelling, and how I wanted to bring essential oils into the classroom. He immediately thought of Demeter and how much fun it would be for the kids.
Demeter’s fragrances narrow in and capture singular notes/things like, Grass, Martini, Bubble Gum, or Snow. Christopher Brosius founded Demeter Fragrances in 1993; and he continues building his work with his line CB I Hate Perfume. Demeter continues to grow as well, and generously supplied purse size travel sprays for the entire class, and filled my very specific request for scents from their Fragrance Library collection: Dirt, Earthworm, Tomato, Golden Delicious, Honey, Play-Doh, Crayon, Birthday Cake.
In the Classroom the Kids are Alright
Jose picked up the blotter and remembered the day his family went on a hike through the hills and sand and arrived at the ocean, more exactly it was the day his mother taught him how to swim. He was holding the blotter tightly as he relived and shared this special moment of his life. Franco picked up his blotter and almost instantly recalled the time he played an electric guitar when he was little and how his feet on the earth made the sound even stronger. They were both smelling Demeter Dirt. Other kids had one word guttural reactions to what they smelled. Lucia said “green” as she smelled Dirt, and I have to agree there is a freshness and expansiveness about it. Dirt most certainly was the scent that brought forth all sorts of memories and ideas from the kids. It appears that kids are still thankfully connected to the earth.
At times the connection to smelling and action immediate. After they smelled Crayon, the kids would immediately want to draw. Maybe there is something about scent as motivation.. Jose picked up his crayon and began to draw an ocean of earth.
More to come….stay tuned.
Listen to Christopher Brosius talk about Demeter here; his description of Dirt is awesome.