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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.

  • A class project about salt can prove very interesting. 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.
  • An OHP would help in sharing the poem. You might like to give lines of the poem to different children, rather than speaking it yourself.


  1. Hold up the salt and ask the children if they recognize 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 it 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 has been during this winter’s snow and ice. Don’t forget food preservation, such as ham and salt fish, natural disinfectant, as well as bringing out the flavour of food: a pinch of salt in a chocolate cake makes it taste more chocolatey! Salt was the currency paid to some Roman soldiers; and it was used on ships to pickle food and help prevent scurvy.
  2. Explain that the word ‘common’ has several meanings. It can be applied to someone who is not particularly nice, someone who is badly behaved, loud or ill-mannered or it can describe something that is plentiful. The term ‘common people’ means all of us. Jesus told his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ He was telling them how important they were in spreading the word of God and how small, kind actions can have enormous benefit for many people. For example, if you smile at someone today, they may well smile back, making both of you feel happier.

    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 he took the first mouthful his face changed.

    ‘Ugh!’ he said to his wife. ‘You’ve forgotten to put any salt in my food, my dinner is spoiled!’

    Mrs Giles only ever put a small amount of salt 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 looked embarrassed. ‘Sorry, Mum,’ she said. ‘I thought I’d put in some salt in case you forgot and 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.

Time for reflection


Some people have plenty of money and live in beautiful homes, but because they have everything it does not necessarily make it a happy home. These homes are like meals without any salt to bring out the flavour, tasteless.

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


Ordinary people like us, the common people, can be like the common salt.

We don’t need to be anybody special,

we don’t need to be rich or exceptionally clever,

but we can be kind and considerate to others.

To God we are like salt;

we are all important and we can be the ‘salt of the earth’ to others:

reliable, dependable and always willing to help.

To God, we are all equal.

Let us 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 2009   (Vol.11 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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