Kite Flying, Grace Lin

It’s been a week of wild March winds here – and this is the perfect book for windy weather!

I love Grace Lin’s books and think that they are very suitable for turning into sensory stories – the stories are beautifully simple and the illustrations so clear. She has written about Chinese New Year (Bringing in the New Year) and the mid-autumn Moon festival (Thanking the Moon), Chinese food (Dim Sum for Everyone) and Chinese vegetables (The Ugly Vegetables).

My favourite book of hers at the moment is Kite Flying, published by Random House and also available as an e-book.

Kite Flying, picture book by Grace Lin

This would be great as a simple sensory story. It would tie in well with any Chinese theme, or dragon or weather theme…And of course it would be the perfect story to accompany actual kite-making – maybe afterwards as a way of re-calling the activity.

Start with some fans to make the ‘wind’ blow.

Selection of folding fans

Then have some sticks to bang together. (You could just use claves from the music box – they would make the right sound when banged together even if they are not the right length.) An empty glue bottle would be a fun prop to squish and then you could flap some huge sheets of coloured paper or kite fabric and wave some streamers around. ‘Paint’ the back of the children’s hands with a clean paint brush. And finish with a kite – or even better – lots of kites!

Tip: If you are not actually going to take your kite outside to fly then this type of windsock spinner will probably be easier to use as a prop than an actual kite (not so breakable):

Fish windsock spinner

It may be easier to snip off the strings and simply ‘fly’ it around the room by holding it at the ‘mouth’. You may be able to find a Chinese dragon shaped one:

Chinese dragon windsock spinner

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

Baby Goes to Market, Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

This lovely story about a mother and child visiting a West African market is very simple to follow and has big bright illustrations. Although it is about a baby it is not a ‘babyish’ story. I think it would work well as a sensory story for children with complex additional needs of many different ages.

It is also perfect for situations where you are trying not to share props between children (due to Covid restrictions). All the props are cheap to buy and it would be very easy to have one set of props for each child.

Baby goes to Market cover text, suggested book to turn into a Sensory Story.

It is very easy to create a sensory story from this book…simply go to market yourself (or possibly the boring old supermarket!) and buy the foods and fruits named in the story: bananas, oranges, biscuits, sweet corn and coconut.

Picture of bananas on a market stall.

If you think you may have problems with children wanting to eat your props you could use toys instead, but if possible use the real things so that you can incorporate all those lovely textures and smells into the story. (The biscuits may be the main temptation – you could cut star shapes out of thick brown felt as a substitute.)

The coconut in the story is in pieces…have a look to see if you can buy a coconut that has already been chopped up. (These are often with the take-away lunch items in a supermarket.) Remember to check for allergies before using any coconut.

This is a good story for numeracy…if you are using it with this aim make sure your numbers are correct, otherwise one of each item may be enough. (Or as suggested above you could have one set of props for each child.)

When adding props to this story I would concentrate on the items that ‘baby’ adds to the basket. If you add in props for the items that mother puts in the basket you may end up with too much happening at once.

Yellow flip flops

Try adding some flip flops into your sensory story – make footstep noises with these by clapping them together as ‘mama’ goes to market. You could ‘clap’ with your flip flops before each repetition of ‘market is very crowded’. This would give the feeling of mama walking through the market and also allows for a little pause as your listeners absorb what is happening.

Some traditional West African fabrics would also add to the atmosphere of the sensory story. If these are difficult to find try The African Fabric Shop which sells them online by the metre: https://www.africanfabric.co.uk/fabrics-textiles/african-fabrics

West African clothes hanging up to sell.

For a cool end to the story try one of these motorbike noise makers!

Motorbike noise-maker horn for a bicycle.

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