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Letter: Around the world with your five senses

By Wendy Chappell-Dick
Manager of Ten Thousand Villages Bluffton

In the last weeks before school let out, Ten Thousand Villages hosted four classes of 2nd graders who were able to “travel around the world” using sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

“We may seem like a store, but we are so much more,” I told the children. Ten Thousand Villages is actually a non-profit, with a mission to help some of the poorest people in the world earn a living. By providing a market for international handmade crafts and gifts, Ten Thousand Villages empowers people to help themselves. 

Volunteers who work at Ten Thousand Villages set up the store in order of continents. The children could see colorful crafts from Asia, India, Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East. 


We played world music on Spotify and asked the students to guess from which part of the world the music came. They were invited to do a little dancing to a Bollywood song.

Carolyn McDaniel demonstrated some more fascinating sounds, such as the tone of a singing bowl or a thumb harp. She let the children try rattles and drums made with various materials. 

Suzann Bauman took her subjects outdoors to smell exotic incense, chocolate and coffee beans, and a variety of fragrant soaps.

I asked the children to close their eyes and touch a silk headband, a carved gourd ornament, a necklace made from smooth tagua nuts, and leather and wool from Alpaca, Water Buffalo and Yak. The 2nd graders had many creative suggestions as they guessed what the materials the things they touched were made of. 

Despite all the wonders that they had seen, the favorite product 2nd grade was the bucket of knitted finger puppets from South America.

The children were dismissed focusing on their sense of taste – a chocolate from Ghana, from a farmer-owned co-op that is free from scandals that have plagued mainstream chocolate companies linked to human rights abuses, structural poverty, low pay and child labor.