A Sensory Story for World Book Day

World Book Day is on the 4th of March this year. A perfect day for a sensory story with lots of books in it!

A stack of books

I wrote this story for the Wigtown Book Festival and imagined it happening in one of the lovely wee bookshops in Wigtown, but feel free to set your version of the story in your local bookshop, or library or even in the book corner in your classroom.

The props for this story are all ordinary household objects. You will need: an apron, a duster (a feather one is great if you happen to have one), a scrubbing brush, a yellow duster or similar (for polishing), a pile of books and a mug. But you don’t need to stick to these exact objects – just adapt the story to suit whatever you have to hand. If you are telling the story in a classroom you could make up individual sets of tactile props for every pupil.

Sensory props for the story: a scrubbing brush, yellow duster, feather duster, books and a mug

Brownies are a kind of Scottish fairy – they can be very helpful, but are quick to take offence! This story is very loosely based on a traditional Scottish tale.

Directions for how to use the props are in the square brackets.

The Bookshop Brownie

This is a story about an old bookshop. [Let the children see and feel some of the books]

A brownie lived in this bookshop. A little magical man.

Every night the old woman who worked in the shop put out a big mug of milk for the brownie. [Use a teaspoon to ‘stir’ the mug of milk]

The brownie slept all day.

Every night he got up.

He shook out his apron. Shake shake shake [Shake the apron]

He picked up his duster. Dust dust dust [Dust with the duster – you could ‘dust’ the children’s hands as well]

He sorted the books. Sort sort sort [Sort the books by thumping them on top of each other and flipping through the pages.]

He scrubbed the floor. Scrub scrub scrub [Pretend to ‘scrub’ with the scrubbing brush. You could scrub the children’s shoes]

He polished the front step. Rub rub rub [Use the yellow duster, shake it out and then ‘polish’ with it]

He drank down that big mug of milk. Glug glug glug [Mime drinking the milk]

And went to bed just as the sun was rising.

Every night it was the same. [Repeat the actions from before]

He shook out his apron. Shake shake shake

He did the dusting. Dust dust dust

He sorted the books. Sort sort sort

He scrubbed the floor. Scrub scrub scrub

He polished the front step. Rub rub rub

And he drank down his milk. Glug glug glug

Shake shake shake

Dust dust dust

Sort sort sort

Scrub scrub scrub

Rub rub rub

And glug glug glug.

But one night the brownie…

Shook out his apron. Shake shake shake

Picked up his duster. Dust dust dust

Sorted the books. Sort sort sort

Scrubbed the floor. Scrub scrub scrub

Polished the front step. Rub rub rub

And went to get his mug of milk…

Uh-oh…no milk! [Make this very dramatic!]

The old woman had forgotten to put out milk for the brownie.

It doesn’t take much to annoy a brownie.

He shook his fists. [Shake your fists]

And then…

Stomp stomp stomp [Stomp as loudly as you can, encourage other to join in]

Went the brownie across that clean floor

And stomp stomp stomp

He went over the shining doorstep

And  stomp stomp stomp

He went down the road

And over the hills and out of sight…

And after that the old woman had to… [Repeat the actions one more time]

Shake shake shake

Dust dust dust

Sort sort sort

Scrub scrub scrub

And rub rub rub

all by herself.

And the little brownie was never seen again.

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

A Pancake Day Sensory Story

This time I have a script for you rather than a book recommendation. This script is for an easy-to-tell sensory story for pancake day. It’s based on the folktale The Little Red Hen.

When telling the story it can be fun to use the names of children or adults who are present for the different characters. I quite enjoy the ‘naughtiness’ of the story with its ‘don’t care’ attitude from the three lazy characters and slightly selfish ending. However you may feel that it is giving the wrong message about behaviour in which case you could change the ending to ‘reform’ the three lazy characters at the end. They could rush around helping to set the table and then share the pancakes and do the washing up afterwards! Or you could have all the characters be animals, as in the original folktale.

Frying pan and kitchen utensils hanging on wall

Props suggestions for the sensory story: bag or canister of flour, wooden spoon, bowl, frying pan, pancake flipper, lemons, table cloth and ‘pancakes’ cut out of brown felt or cardboard. (If you use something light for your pancakes you can enjoy flipping them without having to worry about injuries!) You could also include smells such as cut lemons and maple syrup.

Flour canister

Pancake Day Story

Freya was cleaning the cupboards in the kitchen.
At the back of the cupboard she found a some left-over of flour. (Give flour canister a shake)

‘Who will help me make pancakes with this flour?’ said Freya.
‘Not I,’ said William.
‘Not I,’ said Ben.
‘I can’t be bothered,’ said Mary.
‘Well,’ said Freya ‘I will do it myself!’
She put the flour in the bowl with eggs and milk.


‘Who will help me mix the batter?’ said Freya.
‘Not I,’ said William.
‘Not I,’ said Ben.
‘I can’t be bothered,’ said Mary.
‘Well,’ said Freya ‘I will do it myself!’ (‘Mix’ noisily using the spoon and bowl, let the children help)
And she did!


‘Who will help me flip the pancakes?’ said Freya.
‘Not I,’ said William.
‘Not I,’ said Ben.
‘I can’t be bothered,’ said Mary.
‘Well,’ said Freya ‘I will do it myself!’
And she did!

She flipped and flopped twenty-seven pancakes! (Mime flipping pancakes, or flip your felt pancakes, let the children help)

‘Who will run down to the shop for some lemons?’ said Freya.
‘Not I,’ said William.
‘Not I,’ said Ben.
‘I can’t be bothered,’ said Mary.
‘Well,’ said Freya ‘I will do it myself!’ (Make fast ‘running’ sounds by tapping hands on knees)
And she did! (If you are using real lemons let the children smell them – being very careful no-one gets lemon juice in their eye)

‘Who will help me lay the table and make it nice?’ said Freya.
‘Not I,’ said William.
‘Not I,’ said Ben.
‘I can’t be bothered,’ said Mary.
‘Well,’ said Freya ‘I will do it myself!’ (Shake out table cloth, let the children help)
And she did!


‘Who will help me to eat the pancakes?’ said Freya.
‘I will,’ said William.
‘I will,’ said Ben.
‘I will,’ said Mary.
‘No you won’t’ said Freya.
‘You watched while I mixed the batter…’
‘You watched while I flipped the pancakes…’
‘You watched while I ran down to the shop for lemons and you watched while I made the table nice…
‘…And now you can watch while I eat the pancakes!’ (Repeat all the actions: mixing, ‘running’, flipping the pancakes, shaking out the cloth – then mime eating the pancakes)
Freya sat down and ate all twenty-seven pancakes, with lemon and sugar sprinkled on top.

‘Delicious’ she said.

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

Chinese New Year

The Runaway Wok book

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine and Sebastià Serra is a fun lively tale for Chinese New Year. It’s published by Dutton Books and is also available as an e-book. It makes an excellent Chinese New Year sensory story for children with complex additional needs. The text is slightly complicated – however the story itself is actually quite straightforward. It would be quite easy to re-tell the narrative in simple sentences and just concentrate on the main actions of the magic wok.

A simple sensory version could start with Ming coming home from market with the magic wok. If the wok you use as a prop is old and battered so much the better!

Old wok pan, prop for sensory story

The children can help you ‘wash and polish’ the wok with dusters, scrubbing brushes etc.

Encourage everyone to join in with the chant as you make the wok fly. These parts of the story where the wok is flying are really fun so take your time with them – you can make the wok fly all around and come right up close to different children, maybe landing on a lap or a wheelchair tray.

If you use a wok with a lid you can keep the props a surprise from the children and encourage interaction by giving different children a chance to guess what is inside, lift off the lid etc. ‘Crashing’ the lid against the wok will also make a good noise as the wok is flying.

You don’t need to tie yourself up in knots by having too many props in the wok – one or two items after each magical trip will be plenty.

The first time the wok comes back it is full of food. Depending on the children you are telling the story to you could use some pretend food (string makes good noodles), food in packets or actual cooked noodles.(Great from a sensory point of view but possibly slightly stressful to use!)

Chinese paper lanterns

The next time the wok comes back it is full of toys and New Year decorations. Cymbals, drums, lanterns and kites are all mentioned…choose whichever will appeal to the children you are telling the story to.

The third time it comes back it is full of money. You could put some coins in a couple of small red drawstring bags and then knot the bags very tightly shut (for safety). These will be interesting from a tactile point of view as well.

Selection of small drawstring bags

I would skip over the section with mean Mr Li as it is a little complicated to show with props. Finish with the party: cymbals and noise-makers and cheering and maybe some confetti instead of fireworks:

Red and white confetti

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

Stone Soup

It’s back to Wigtown Book Festival again for a big bowl of Stone Soup. This traditional tale about sharing is told all over the world. I’ve created a simple sensory story version that uses ordinary household objects as props. Watch the video and join in here:

Download the script and check out the other Wigtown sensory stories and rhymes with beautiful illustrations by Kate Leiper:

https://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/library/a-sensory-story

Happy storytelling!

Wake up Santa!

I’m sending you over to the Wigtown Book Festival again for a Christmas sensory story! Santa has fallen asleep – the children won’t get any presents! The magical objects and animals at Santa’s home try to wake him up.

This sensory story is very easy to use at the last minute in the run up to Christmas as it needs hardly any props.

You can download the sensory story script, with lovely illustrations by artist Kate Leiper, if you scroll down the page here:

https://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/library/a-sensory-story

(You will also find a link to some Christmas sensory rhymes on this page.)

Happy storytelling and happy Christmas!

The Magic Porridge Pot

For this blog post I am sending you to the lovely Wigtown Book Festival! I am very happy to be working with the Wigtown Festival on a series of Sensory Story and Rhyme videos. First up is the Magic Porridge Pot:

https://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/library/a-sensory-story

Pots and pans and wooden spoons at the ready!

Kitchen utensils to use as props for a sensory story.

There will be a new sensory story and set of seasonal rhymes every month from now until April at the Wigtown Book Festival Website. These stories and rhymes use household objects as props and are designed to be told at home or school. Happy storytelling!

A Squash and a Squeeze, Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Julia Donaldson's Squash and a Squeeze

Many of us may be feeling a little bit squashed and squeezed at the moment as we are stuck at home more than normal. What a good time to share the fun of Julia Donaldson’s book! There is so much rhythm and rhyme for a child with complex additional needs to enjoy here – or indeed any child! Try adding some extra sensory input with props gathered from around your own home.

Choose a prop for each animal, something your child will enjoy. Some children might enjoy this story with some puppet additions. Try The Puppet Company:

https://www.thepuppetcompany.com/index.php?route=common/home

They have a great variety of puppets and puppet versions of all the animals needed for this story.

Alternatively you could record the animal noises on to recording switches like these ‘buttons’ for some lovely noisy fun!

Recording buttons for a sensory story

Last time I read this story it was to a group of children who enjoy tactile props so I mainly concentrated on touch:

Chicken: feathers or a marigold glove (for the wattle!)

Goat: a scrubbing brush goat beard

Pig: two lids from bottles of laundry detergent. Bang them together to make a trit-trot noise for the pigs trotters

Cow: I rolled up a couple of sheets of newspaper, taped it up and then snipped one end to make a swishy cow tail.

Variety of household objects - tactile props for a sensory story - Marigold gloves, scrubbing brush, newspaper, feathers and two bottle lids.

You might want to introduce each animal prop to your child before you tell the story: ‘This is the feathery chicken. This is the goat with the bristly beard. This is the pig with the trit-trot trotters. And this is the cow with the swishy tail.’

Then use the props as each animal takes its turn in the story; brush the child’s hand with the feathers or ‘tail’, make clip-clop noises with the ‘trotters’, let the child feel the goat’s ‘beard’. And join in with your own animal noises!

Act out all the animal actions in an exaggerated way. The chicken flies all around – if your child enjoys being tickled you could tickle their hands, face and feet with the feathers! ‘Nibble’ like the goat – use you hand to make gentle nibbling motions on your child’s arm. Use the lid ‘trotters’ to make the pig run all around and then tap on your child’s knees or wheelchair tray to make the cow dance a jig!

If you are telling the story to a group of children you could give each child the role of being one of the animals. (It won’t matter if you have more than one of some of the animals.) Encourage everyone to join in with the actions and noises. The story should get louder and more chaotic as it goes on – then encourage your child to help you ‘push’ the animals out of the house! When the are all out give a gentle ‘shh!’ and help your child to notice the how peaceful the house has become.

Try to use your best ‘annoyed lady’ and ‘wise old man’ voices as you tell the story. You could also give your child a ‘squash’ and ‘squeeze’ when these are mentioned; maybe a little ‘squash’ as you gently press their upper arms, or very softly ‘squeeze’ their hands. Take your child’s hands and do a quiet little ‘frolic’ at the end.

Remember children usually enjoy a story more if they hear it several times so if possible keep your collection of props together and read A Squash and a Squeeze over and over!

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

Even More Autumn and Halloween Sensory Stories!

I’ve come across a couple more lovely books so I can’t resist giving some more seasonal sensory story suggestions…

Both of these books would be easy to transform into engaging sensory stories for children with complex additional needs.

We're Going on a Leaf Hunt book for turning into a sensory story.

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto would be the perfect book to accompany your own autumn leaf hunt. It’s similar to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, with lots of repetition and simple actions to join in with. Try the following to make it more sensory:

  • Cover your child(ren) with a large piece of cloth or silky scarf for the ‘dark forest’. (Children often enjoy this more if the fabric is slightly see-through.)
  • Some children would enjoy a gently spray of water on the hand for the waterfall. Or use a rain stick to make the waterfall noise.
  • A ice pack could be used for the ‘cold, cold lake’.
  • And of course – add in lots of autumn leaves! If some of the leaves in the story are tricky to find I would just use the trees you have in your neighbourhood. (This is an American book so one or two of the trees may be rather difficult to find in the UK.)
Halloween Night book for turning into a sensory story

Halloween Night by Arden Druce, with illustrations by David Wenzel is perfect for turning into a not-too-scary sensory story. It has a nice simple narrative, rhyming text and a good rhythm. It’s available as an e-book as well as a paperback.

One new character or object is introduced per. page which makes the story very suitable for children with complex additional needs. Try using a flapping black bin bag (cut open) for the witch, some bundles of raffia or straw for the scarecrow and some feathers for the owl.

Scour the shops for skeletons, ghosts, bats, spiders webs, black cats and of course, pumpkins…Halloween is a very multi-sensory time of year and you should be able to find some lovely props in the shops for for all the characters and objects in this story. Look for things that jiggle, light-up or hoot!

With luck you will be able to find tactile objects at a reasonable price so that you can make up individual packs of props for each child (necessary in these times of Covid). Some things will not need to be handled by the children and for these you can just have one copy; for example you can use the traditional ‘sheet over the head’ for the ghost!

The story ends with a group of children all in their Halloween costumes…if you’re reading the story to your class maybe you could finish by getting everyone to dress up in simple (washable) costumes as this point (cloaks are always easy to get on and off).

Any questions at all please send me a message or email: info@flotsamandjetsam.co.uk and I’ll be happy to help!

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

More Sensory Stories for Autumn and Halloween

Pumpkins

Here are some links to Autumn and Halloween sensory stories available online. (More Autumn and Halloween book recommendations coming in the next few days!)

Inclusiveteach.com have a lovely gentle autumn sensory story available to download here:

And Pathstoliteracy.org have a sensory story based on Lois Ehlert’s book Leaf Man:

https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/strategies/leaf-man-sensory-story

I love Lois Ehlert’s picture books and this one is available in an extra large format:

I have a Halloween story (not too scary!) available on the Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland website:

https://tracscotland.org/resources/the-brave-tailor-for-children-with-additional-needs/

Finally try this lovely soft brush on the back of someone’s hand when talking about leaf sweeping:

Maybe you could use this little poem by that famous poet Anon!

To and fro, to and fro,
Sweeping with my broom I go.
All the fallen leaves I sweep,
In a big and tidy heap.

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

It Was a Cold, Dark Night, Tim Hopgood

It Was a Cold Dark Night by Tim Hopgood, book suggested for Autumn sensory story.

Autumn is definitely here – time for some nice Autumn sensory stories. Tim Hopgood’s It Was A Cold, Dark Night is perfect for turning into a sensory story to mark the beginning of the new season.

Hover over the images to see links to where to buy the prop suggestions – or get in touch if you have any questions.

The story starts off with the wind blowing. You could use a fan, or a wind whistle like the one made by Acme:

Acme wind whistle - prop for sensory story.

If you are telling the story to children who enjoy visual storytelling there are lots of nice cuddly hedgehog toys and puppets available online. If you are looking for something more tactile then this little fellow is quite expensive – but so wonderfully prickly and the exact size of a real life hedgehog:

For those of you who need a tactile prop but are on a tighter budget you could used a scrubbing brush instead!

Scrubbing brush tactile props

I would use a different fabric drawstring bag for each of the animal homes. Inside you can have story props to represent the different animals and birds. Choose these according to what your children will enjoy the best.

Tactile props could be:

pom poms or cotton wool balls for the rabbits (to represent their fluffy taile)

a dress-up fox’s tail for the fox (widely available to buy online)

feathers for the owls

As you read the story encourage the children to put their hands in the bags and feel the props.

You could also use one of the RSPB owl toys that hoot. The children will be intrigued if you keep it in the bag and let them hear it before you take it out.

Owl soft toy that 'hoots'.

If the children you work with enjoy a surprise you could use these flying bats in your story:

Flying bat toy

It’s possible to buy artificial leaves:

Artificial leaves

But it could also be a nice project to collect your own leaves with the children for the ending of the story. Everybody can help to cover the hedgehog with the leaves.

Some children would also enjoy leaf confetti – cut or tear simple leaf shapes from tissue paper and then let these fall gently over the hedgehog (and the children) at the end.

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