Lesson 3: Helen's Challenges

Getting Started

Questions to Explore

  • How do we use our senses to understand our environment?
  • How do we adjust to or modify our environment?

Facts and Definitions

  • When one sense is lost, other senses can become stronger.
  • Authors use words to appeal to all our senses.


  • Respond to stories in ways that reflect understanding through writing, music, drama, and art. (LA)
  • Write to communicate with a variety of audiences. (LA)
  • Generate ideas for writing by listing key thoughts. (LA)
  • Plan and make judgments about what to include in written and oral products. (LA)
  • Use editing to check for complete sentences and word order. (LA)


  • Who Was Helen Keller? by Gare Thompson and Nancy Harrison
  • crayons* (Activity 3 - Option 2)
  • music that reflects different moods* (Activity 3 - Option 1)

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed


Tell your child that she will be reading more about Helen's childhood today. Ask your child to describe why living in Helen's environment could be frustrating and sometimes dangerous for Helen and her family members.
Reading and Questions
Materials: Who Was Helen Keller? by Gare Thompson and Nancy Harrison
Ask your child to read Chapter 3 and then answer these questions.
  1. What were some dangerous things that happened in Helen's environment because of her disabilities?
    She almost caught her apron on fire, she locked her mother in the pantry, she cut the flowers on the porch and Martha's hair, and she pushed over her baby sister's cradle.
  2. How did Helen get information from her environment?
    By feeling and smelling.
  3. What were some things that Helen learned to do, despite her disabilities?
    Helen learned to fold clothes, figure out what people were doing, and use motions and gestures to show what she wanted.
  4. Where did Helen's parents take her? What did they find out?
    They took her to a specialist in Maryland who told them he could not help but that they should visit Alexander Graham Bell to see if he knew anyone who could help.