History through the Senses

In this resource, pupils will learn how sensory stories from our oral history research reveal surprising details about life in mid-20th century Inverclyde. Pupils will also learn how to conduct their own sensory oral history interview to explore hidden histories in their local area. The target audience for this resource is level 2/3 learners in Scotland.

Teachers and pupils can explore the role of sugar in shaping the history of Greenock and surrounding areas and then conduct their own interviews to find out about the history of their local area – focusing on sights, smells, sounds and taste. Using these interviews, students can use objects and questions about the senses creatively to discover what life in their town was like in the past and compare this with other knowledge of the same historical period.

While this resource was originally designed for primary and secondary school children in Inverclyde to share local stories of Greenock’s sugar industry, it could easily be adapted to another area with an industrial past that can be explored – using Greenock as an example. This resource is also designed to be adaptable for students in P5-P7 classes and S1-S3 classes (i.e. ages 10-15 years).


This resource bundle includes pdf and editable versions of the following:
  • A PowerPoint presentation about Sensory Oral Histories (within the context of the sugar industry in Greenock)
  • Teacher’s guide, including a lesson plan on Sensory Oral History interviews (an overview and practise outline)
  • Student information sheet
  • Student worksheet for interview practise
  • An interviewee consent form


Learning Outcomes in the Curriculum for Excellence:
Social studies – SOC 2-01a, 3-01a; SOC 2-02a, 3-02a; SOC 2-03a – 3-03a; SOC 2-14a, 3-14a
  • Develop my understanding of the history, heritage and culture of Scotland, and an appreciation of my local and national heritage within the world
  • Learn how to locate, explore and link periods, people and events in time and place
  • Learn how to locate, explore and link features and places locally and further afield
  • Explore and evaluate different types of sources and evidence


Literacy & English – LIT2-26a, 3-26a; LIT 2-24a, 3-24a; LIT2-07a; LIT2-10a, 3-10a

Students will research local and global history by conducting sensory oral history interviews, applying their skills and understanding in a range of contexts and suitable formats.  The writing format of the piece of text, accompanying historical materials, level of challenge, length and complexity of task are to be determined by the teacher.  An image relevant to the text is to be included in the layout of writing as the title page of the essay. The image can be a map, a drawing, or a photograph, but must be an open access resource.


Click here to view “History through the Senses” on TES.

To find more Open Educational Resources from the University of Edinburgh, visit open.ed.ac.uk and/or our TES store.


Header image: “sweet stuff” by Patrick Q is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0