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:
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!
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.
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.