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To show that something that is common can be important too.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show that something that is common can be important too.

Preparation and materials

  • Very little preparation is required but it would help to have a packet or drum of salt.

  • An OHP would help in sharing the poem.
  • You might like to prepare one or more readers to say the poem.
  • You might like to cook some plain rice with and without salt. You could then get a couple of children to taste the two and say what’s different about them (see section 1).
  • A class project about salt can prove very interesting.


  1. Hold up the salt and ask if anyone recognizes what it is. Invite one or two children up to taste it. (If you’ve got some of the rice, taste test it now.)

    Explain that salt doesn’t look very special and we refer to it as ‘common’ salt but it can have many uses. Invite the children to tell you some of them. They may be aware of how important it is during snow and ice. Don’t forget the other uses of salt:

    –  food preservation, such as ham and salt fish
    –  natural disinfectant
    –  to bring out the flavour of food (a pinch of salt in a chocolate cake has a fantastic effect!)
    –  it was an important part of the diet of sailors when away at sea for months at a time, as it helped to prevent scurvy (an illness caused by a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables).

    Since ancient times people have valued salt. Salt was paid to Roman soldiers as their wages.
  2. Explain that the word ‘common’ has several meanings: it can be applied to someone who is not particularly nice, who is badly behaved, loud or ill mannered; or it can describe something that is plentiful. The term ‘common people’, means all of us.

    Salt is called ‘common’ because there is a lot of it in the world both in the sea and in the ground.
  3. Listen to the poem.

    by Jan Edmunds

    Something that is common can be important too.

    Salt has lots of uses like flavouring the stew.

    It melts the ice along the street; it helps preserve all kinds of meat.

    People worked for salt as pay; it helped to keep disease at bay.

    Salt is such a common thing that’s used by you and me.

    It’s proved to be important in the course of history.

  4. Now tell the following story

    What a difference salt makes!
    by Jan Edmunds

    One day farmer Giles came home from work feeling very tired, which made him extremely bad tempered. His children, Betty and George, were a bit afraid of their father when he was cross but they knew that his temper would improve when he had eaten his dinner. They watched as their mother put his meal of meat and potatoes in front of him.

    As farmer Giles took the first mouthful, he pulled a horrible face. ‘Ugh!’ he said to his wife. ‘You’ve forgotten to put any salt in my food, my dinner’s spoiled!’

    Mrs Giles only ever put a small amount in her cooking but it made all the difference to the flavour. Farmer Giles’ temper did not improve and the children quickly disappeared into their bedrooms.

    The next night he came in again with a very stern look. He sat down to dinner. He took a bite. ‘Ugh!’ he said. ‘It’s far too salty!’

    ‘Oh dear,’ said Mrs Giles, ‘I didn’t think I’d put too much in.’

    Betty went red. ‘Sorry, Mum,’ she said. ‘I thought I’d add some salt in case you forgot. I didn’t want Dad to be cross.’

    This made Farmer Giles realize just how his bad temper affected the family. He knew Betty was only trying to help. He said he was sorry but couldn’t they all see that just a bit of salt made all the difference to his food.

    The next evening Farmer Giles was determined not to get cross but there was no need for there was just the right amount of salt in his dinner. So everyone was happy.
  5. Some people have plenty of money and live in beautiful homes, but that does not necessarily make them happy homes. These homes are like meals without any flavour of salt at all, or with too much salt.

    Some homes may be poor but they are happy. They are like the meal which tastes just right because it has just the right amount of salt.

  6. Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ When he said this he was telling them how important they were because it was up to them to pass on the good news about Jesus.

    Jesus was also saying that small, kind actions are very important and can be of enormous benefit to many people – for example, if you smile at someone today, that person may well smile back, making both of you feel happier.

Time for reflection

Dear God,
thank you that to you
ordinary people like us, the common people,
are like the common salt.
Thank you that we don’t need to be anybody special,
we don’t need to be rich or clever.
Thank you that to you we are all important,
and all equally important.
Thank you that we can be ‘the salt of the earth’ to others.
Help us to be reliable, dependable and always willing to help.
Help us, whoever we are, to be kind and considerate to others.
Help us to learn to live together in peace and harmony
so making this world a better place.


‘When God made the garden of creation’ (Come and Praise, 16)

Publication date: April 2012   (Vol.14 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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