The Big Sneeze, Ruth Brown

image of book to turn into a sensory story - The Big Sneeze by Ruth Brown

Sticking with the farmyard theme The Big Sneeze by Ruth Brown lends itself beautifully to becoming a sensory story. It has a simple narrative, clear actions and only a little bit of text on each page. It’s perfect for a farm theme as it includes a barn setting and lots of farm animals.

The story starts with the farmer and all the animals snoozing in the barn. Put some snores on BIGmack communicators (or similar voice recording switch devices) and encourage everyone to join in with the snoring! If you like you could also use some bunches of straw or raffia, some old sacks and spider’s webs to create atmosphere. Raffia and sacks are easy to find online (search for sacks for garlic or potato storage) and if you search for ‘stretchable spider’s web decoration’ you will find the kind of webbing people put up at Halloween.

The action of the story starts with a buzzing fly. Unsurprisingly it is not very easy to find fly toys – you could try adding felt wings to adapt a caterpillar puppet:

Caterpillar finger puppet

Or you could simply use the tip of your finger and make a buzzing noise. ‘Fly’ your finger around the class and land at various spots, maybe on the back of a child’s hand or even on their nose (if you think they would enjoy that). Encourage the children and other adults present to ‘shoo’ the fly away. The buzzing of the fly can be pre-recorded if you prefer – kazoos make an excellent annoying buzz but are probably not advisable to use ‘live’ during Covid times. The same goes for the farmer’s enormous sneeze – even fake sneezing is probably not advisable at the moment – so record your sneeze onto a communication switch device before you start.

I like this type of ‘trick’ spider that has a nice wobbly sensory quality!

Sensory spider toy

You could use some feathers for the bird, the kind that are used for trimming hats:

A bunch of white feathers

I sometimes use a pastry brush as a tactile prop for a cat as I think they tickle in the same way as cat’s whiskers!

These noisy toys would also work well for this story:

Three small noise toys, a chicken, a pig and a rooster

If your budget stretches to a few chickens that would be good.

I think you could get away with using a mouse finger puppet instead of a rat (rats are harder to find). A finger puppet could work well as it could run over the children.

A mouse finger puppet

I think a nice weighty large toy donkey could work well for this story. This one looks lovely (but is a bit pricey!).

Donkey soft toy

Of course a donkey noise on a switch would be lovely as well!

When you get to the part of the story where the hens startle you could repeat some of the noises and tactile stimuli all at the same time to recreate the feeling of pandemonium that we get from the book! I have mainly suggested inexpensive tactile props so that you could have one set for each child if you are not sharing props at the moment. You could also individualise the sets of props to suit the needs of each child; some children might prefer a purely noisy story others might enjoy more tactile input. Other children might enjoy something very visual in which case you could use puppets throughout.

Remember – not all of my props recommendations are toys! The props I suggest should not be used by children unsupervised.