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Our senses

To appreciate our senses. To appreciate people who help those with disabilities.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To appreciate our senses. To appreciate people who help those with disabilities.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a blindfold and one or more volunteers to be blindfolded.
  • A strong-smelling soap, an apple, a plastic duck, a shell.
  • An object, such as a fruit, an implement or a holiday souvenir, with which children will be unfamiliar.


  1. Explain to the children that you are going to play a ‘guess the object’ game. A volunteer (or volunteers) is going to be blindfolded. They must try to guess the object placed in their hands.

    Do not suggest to the volunteer how they might do this, e.g. feeling, smelling. Use the familiar objects you have collected.

    After the game tell the children that our senses help us to work things out.
  2. Now blindfold another child (choose someone fairly confident as you want this volunteer to be unsuccessful, and be able to cope with that!). Give the child a very unusual object to explore. After the volunteer has tried, explain that not only our senses help us but also our past experiences of objects. This object was not one that our volunteer was likely to have come across before and therefore it was a very difficult task.
  3. Tell the story of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.

    Helen Keller was deaf and blind and unable to speak. Her life was one of silence and lack of stimulation. Can you imagine how frustrated she might feel? She wasn’t able to tell anyone how she felt. As a result she was a difficult child. Helen’s parents hired a nurse to care for her. The nurse’s name was Anne Sullivan.

    Anne Sullivan wanted desperately to reach this little girl who was so angry and uncontrollable. She decided that she would do her best to teach her how to cope with her disabilities. She started to write the names of objects on Helen’s hand, using the sign language of the deaf. She would give Helen a doll and then spell the word ‘doll’ in Helen’s hand. This took a lot of patience and practice before Helen could spell the word ‘doll’ with her own fingers. Anne then tried words like ‘dog’ and ‘milk’.

    But Helen, although she learned to spell these words, had no idea what they meant. She had had no experience of what a dog looked like or sounded like. Rather like our volunteer with the unusual fruit/object.

    One day Anne Sullivan was in the garden with Helen spelling out the word ‘water’ in Helen’s hand. Remember that Helen could neither see nor hear. Anne had an idea. Can you guess what she did? She took hold of Helen’s hand and held it under the water pump. Over and over again she did this and, at the same time, spelt out the word ‘water’ in Helen’s hand. Suddenly, Helen understood that water was something cold and wet. Suddenly she understood that the things she could feel and smell also had names. Can you imagine her excitement? As a result of this breakthrough Helen learned 30 words that day.
  4. Ask for suggestions as to how Anne Sullivan might now have introduced Helen to other words such as ‘cat’, ‘dog’, ‘milk’?

    Helen eventually learned to speak, to read and to write. She even went to college and got a degree. Anne Sullivan continued for a long time to be Helen’s eyes and ears.

Time for reflection


Let’s be thankful for our senses and all the things we learn through them.

Picture something you enjoy looking at.

Picture something you enjoy hearing.

Picture something you enjoy smelling.

Picture something you enjoy tasting.

Picture something you enjoy touching.



Dear God,

We are grateful for our senses.

We are grateful for those people who teach the blind, the deaf and those without speech.

Bless them in their jobs.

Give them helpful ideas that work, and give them patience.



‘All things bright and beautiful’ (Come and Praise, 3)

Publication date: April 2007   (Vol.9 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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