Monday, September 24, 2012

Teaching Smell

A Lesson in The Scents of Making Memories

As I was walking with my kids, on the first morning of Autumn, I took it all in.  The brisk feeling, that reminds me of all those early morning walks to school when I was little. The colors on the trees.  The calm.  The smells.

Mornings are my favorite.  They never used to be, but now I cherish them.  I worked for a decade in those early morning shifts.  The times when you are up before the sun, before 90% of the rest of the world.  I've seen some of the most beautiful sunrises from the end of a runway, and experienced a peace that comes with being the only person up and around to enjoy it. Unless you've been there and been in a full presence of mind to enjoy it, I don't think that I can fully describe it.

Back to the smells. The fresh brewed coffee. Pencils. The smells of wood burning. Bailed hay. Baking. Apples. The smell of a fresh sweater, fresh from the dryer, you put on to ward off the chill during the walk. Smell is powerful. Even the slightest scent can have huge reactions not just on memories, but feelings too.

Every time I walk into my in-laws house, I'm 14 again. There is something about the warm smell of their house, and it's only theirs, that brings me back. I have so many wonderful memories there. My first kiss. My first dates. My first love.

Certain smells trigger so many powerful memories and emotions.  Kind of like songs.  Every time I hear Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton I almost always cry.  Every time I hear an N'Sync song, I'm reminded of one of my first jobs I had in high school as a Sandwich Artist at Subway. The list goes on. Everyone has these songs and scents.  What treasures!

I've noticed with my children, teaching smell, is hard.  I had fake flowers I would stick up to my nose, and sniff really loud and hard to get the point across with my son.  "That is how you smell," I would say.  But reminding children to explore using smell, is something I tend to forget a lot of time.  We focus so much on sight and touch, that I don't want them to forget about other senses like smell and hearing.

Now that he's older and able to talk and do things, I think it's time to create a smell-lab.  I've thought about what I could use to get him to notice smell.  Flowers and perfume are obvious, but I don't want to over load them.  

I'm thinking of simple things, kid things-a box of crayons has a certain smell, play doh has another.  Different smells of childhood.  I don't think he's OK with a blind fold to do a real enhanced version of smelling.

I pulled out three food items that have distinct smells.
Peanut Butter
Hot Sauce (I'm out of Tabasco, so I used the next best thing)

I also used three children's craft items.
Finger Paint
Play Doh

I opened each item and I smelt it first, to demonstrate.  Then he smelt them.  Visually, he recognizes all of these items, but now he can recognize each one for the unique smell it has too!

He called the peanut butter, "Peanut Butter and Jelly." The hot sauce was just "sauce." Ketchup was, well, "ketchup."

He didn't really say much when it came to the craft stuff.  I think the excitement of just seeing it out kind of took away from the idea, but he still smelt everything.

Sometimes we forget how powerful our other senses can be.  When he's older, and when my daughter is too, we'll probably do this again, except blind folded.

I know I've always been more a visual hands on learning, but there is nothing quite like smell.

Speaking of, I can smell my coffee is ready.  Fresh, brewed, dark coffee.

Have you smelt anything wonderful lately?  Any certain smells trigger your memories?

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