The Kids are Alright, DEMETER Fragrance Library in the Classroom: Part 2
I recently read a transcript where a professor of biological sciences said that the problem with our sense of smell, or some of us thinking that we don’t have a very good sense of smell is that that we humans walk on two legs which allows our noses to be 5-6 feet in the air, however all the good smelling stuff is about 8-12 inches from the ground. This got me thinking that some of us are just out of practice, as far as our noses go. So considering kids are still a bit closer to the ground, and that many of them still play in the dirt, this makes them better candidates than most adults when it comes to olfaction. While I was with the kids in the classroom, my very loose intent was to make sure they got to exercise their noses, experience their sense of smell through nature, and begin to become more aware of their sense of smell in their daily life.
Along with my very exacting arsenal of Demeter Fragrance Library, I brought in an apple, a tomato, some mint, a few lemons, and couple of other things with the hope that they would begin to notice that most fruit and plants that they encounter in the real world carry a scent. Most mornings, five noses at 8:30am would huddle close together to get a whiff, a touch, and even a taste. Not only did they want to smell the mint, but they wanted to eat it, making the intimate connection between smell and taste. Not only did they want to smell the earthworm, but they wanted to hold it. After a while, the kids wanted to know how the apple or tomato got inside the perfume bottle. Considering this is the last question I thought they would ask, I described that there were different ways to extract the oils/scent from a flower, plant, root, or fruit and this liquid eventually makes it into the perfume bottle, and they accepted this quite easily.
Without my lead, the kids began to smell notes inside notes, Theodore swore he could smell Coconut inside Demeter Play-doh, and he kept smelling it and repeating it several times. Kara smelled Green Delicious, and swore she smelled Strawberry too. Hilary smelled the same Green Delicious, and said this smells like my mother’s hairspray, a little nod to functional fragrance, and thoughts of mama.
I also brought in some jars of Play-doh, and a box of crayons so that they could smell the real stuff compared to the juice, Crayonand Play-doh. They were very emphatic that the juice and the fragrance didn’t smell exactly alike; they got it! Fragrance is an abstraction, woo hoo kindergarteners. I told them that smelling the real thing and smelling the perfume was sort of like having a real apple on the table in front of them and then drawing that same apple that’s on the table in front of them. They are similar, but not the same.
Most days we started by smelling an earthworm, literally. My son and I searched our garden the day before, looking for an earthworm or two. I then would put them in their temporary Tupperware home, punch a few holes, and add a leaf for a snack, at my son’s urging. After they gently handled the earthworm, we carefully placed him back in his temporary home. Then we sprayed Demeter Earthworm onto the blotter (the kids were always so excited about spraying the fragrances onto the blotters) so they can smell the difference or the sameness. Earthworm, has a wetness, and dampness to it; it smells of wet earth and rotting leaves-camphor-like, and it is so incredibly beautiful. Along with Dirt,and Honey the kids just couldn’t get enough of it. Earthwormgot some kids thinking that they smelled rat and poison, gotta love the city kids, and remember all perfumistas know that there is no such thing as a bad smell.
Next up was Honey, it is a fascinating fragrance, mostly because it smells like the work of the honeybee. When the kids smelledHoney they smelled different kinds of flowers, sunshine, and powdery freshness. After we smelled Honey, I read the book, The Honeybee Man, by Lela Nargi and Krysten Brooker. It’s about a sweet man who makes honey on top of his roof in Brooklyn, and the journey and work of a honeybees, a day in the life….
I saved Birthday Cake for the very end of class, and they immediately yelled out chocolate, vanilla, sweet, and yumm mmmmmm, others surprisingly yelled yuk. Then I noticed Maya. She had created a fan with her blotters and she was waving all six fragrances at once, under her nose. Exactly like photos I have seen of famous perfumers holding multiple blotters in one hand. She said, “See, I can smell all the fragrances at once.” Without knowing it, Maya immediately passed go and went directly to layering and blending. Now why didn’t I think of that, here’s to the future. Cheers, Demeter.