It makes perfect sense

16th October 1998 at 01:00
Stop, Look, Listen: The Sensations
Channel 4
Mondays 10.50-11.00am
Rpt Wednesdays 10.50-11.00am
Age range: 4-6

This new series for Channel 4's Stop, Look, Listen strand of topic-based programmes considers the variety of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feeling experienced through the senses.

Like its predecessors, it possesses all the right ingredients to make it a success. There is a balanced mix of animated characters and live footage of people and animals. It is packed with relevant information and facts, delivered in a clear and effective way.

The programmes make an excellent starting point for classwork. The main facts are dealt with thoroughly in each programme, although younger viewers would benefit from watching some bits more than once.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect to the series is that it never stands still. In each 10-minute slot we are taken out and about, visiting a wide range of settings. At one point we are up a mountain watching a search-and-rescue dog in action (smell), then it is down into some caves to investigate horseshoe bats for hearing. There is a look around a science museum and we watch school children involved in relevant activities in their classroom.

Each programme follows a similar format: a visit to a hospital doctor giving an in-depth look into the ears, eyes, nose and mouth; the zoo to demonstrate how animals use their senses differently from us; in the countryside for a "sound" walk; on a loch side for a "smelly" one.

Five animated characters, known collectively as The Sensations, offer a basic explanation of how each one works. I discovered that these characters were especially popular with children and could have been developed further.

The first of the programmes covers seeing, and demonstrates how the eyes work. Mirrors, reflections and magnifying glasses are called upon to help.

The programme on smells finds a group of school children catching a whiff of stilton cheese and green peppers. The follow-up activities are well presented but perhaps smelling a cow pat is taking things a bit too far!

Taste is investigated in the company of budding young chefs in a kitchen and touch gives us a snapshot of how the body feels at bathtime: hot and cold, wet and dry. One brave teacher puts a raw egg in a feely box for children to explore.

The teacher's guide contains programme outlines, information and suggestions for follow-up activities and photocopiable resource sheets.

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