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Our hands

To think about our hands and how we use them.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To think about our hands and how we use them.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a ball (too large to swallow), a banana, a pencil and paper, a garment with button fastenings, a brush or comb, and a book. Have these items displayed on a table/desk.
  • An OHP would be useful so that the children can read the poem with you as they mime the actions.
  • If used as a class presentation the poem and actions could be learned and rehearsed to give a more polished performance.
  • If you have any cards showing illustrations by Foot and Mouth Artists they would prove useful.


  1. Ask for six volunteers to come out and help you. Assign each child a task: tell them that when you say ‘Go’ you want one to throw and catch the ball in the air; one to peel the banana; one to write their name on the paper; one to do up the buttons; one to comb their hair; and one to bring you the book – BUT – without using their hands! Tell them they must keep their hands behind their backs and when you clap your hands they are to stop.

    Be prepared for some hilarity! Some children can be quite enterprising and will make a real effort to do the task. Give them a reasonable time then clap your hands as a signal to stop. Replace the items on the table/desk, then ask the children to return to their places. The children will have seen for themselves just how difficult it is to do simple tasks without using their hands.
  2. (Optional) If you have some cards painted by the Foot and Mouth Artists you might like to spend a little while discussing how they manage to achieve such beautiful works. The pictures may not be large enough for all the children to see but you could make a display of them somewhere so that they can have a closer look later. Draw out the point that we can learn to adapt but for most of us our hands are important and useful.

  3. Draw the children’s attention to the poem and explain that you would like them to join in with the actions. (Allow time for them to perform each line.)

    Our Hands
    (chant to a rap-like rhythm)
    Now clap your hands – a one, two, three,
    Put your hands on your head now pat your knee.
    Rub them together as if you’re cold,
    Cup them together so that you can hold.
    Spread your fingers, now make a fist,
    Shake your hands very loosely from your wrist.
    Hands can show anger, hands can show rage,
    Hands help when reading to turn the page.
    Now stroke them gently through your hair,
    Reach them high into the air.
    Hands can help you eat a meal,
    And skilful hands can help to heal.
    Hands help us wash, put on clothes and dress.
    Hands keep things tidy when we make a lot of mess.
    Hands can pull and tear and rip,
    Hands turn the rope when we want to skip.
    Hands can catch and throw a ball,
    Hands can make music that’s enjoyed by all.
    Hands are used when our friends we meet,
    We use them to wave and we use them to greet.
    We can sign with our hands to show what we mean,
    We can feel with our hands when things can’t be seen.
    Hands can be used to point the way,
    We put them together when we want to pray.
    You see with our hands we can do so much,
    So let’s be very thankful for our gift of touch.
    Clap your hands again – a one, two, three,
    And be glad you can say these belong to me!

    (Well done! Give yourselves a clap!)

Time for reflection


Our hands make it possible for us to do so many things.
Just think for a moment of how you could use your hands to help people.


You whose hands were skilled and strong
Doing good work all day long
Make our two hands kind and true
Show us work that we can do.
(Source unknown)


‘He gave me eyes’ (Come and Praise, 18 – paying special attention to the last verse about hands)

Publication date: April 2005   (Vol.7 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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