Chinese New Year

The Runaway Wok book

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine and SebastiĆ  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.