The Little Red Hen, a sensory story about plants and growing things

Here is a sensory story version of The Little Red Hen – last in a series of sensory stories for The Wigtown Book Festival. I have kept all the basic elements of the traditional tale, but changed it to make the Little Red Hen grow tomatoes rather than wheat. The story follows the tomatoes from seed to plate and would be perfect if you are exploring a gardening/growing things topic.

This is one of my favourite folktales. As a mother I find that I can very much identify with the Little Red Hen working so hard! I have changed the ending slightly to allow the other animals the chance to ‘come good’ and to promote the value of sharing.

Hen in a field

The props are all things you can find around your house/school – check out the short intro video for details. And the script can be downloaded.

Script and intro both available here (under Sensory Story for April):

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

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

A Sensory Story for Mother’s Day

Here is a story that would go well with a Mother’s Day theme when we celebrate the power of mums! Mums and are always ready for anything. And this mother certainly is – with a little help from her magic handbag!

Old-fashioned black handbag

I like to use a big old-fashioned black handbag as a prop for this story – large enough for all the different props. But if you can’t get hold of this kind of handbag you could use any kind of bag and just change the words accordingly (mum’s shopping bag, mum’s backpack etc.).

I use the following props: raincoats or rain ponchos (the kind that pack away into a pouch are quite intriguing for children), oranges in a net bag (the net bag adds tactile interest), a torch, a hand warmer in a little bag or a yellow silk scarf (for the sun) and a little music box or tinkling bell or something similar (to represent peace and quiet).

Small bells and chimes

But this story is very adaptable – you can make changes to the contents of the handbag so that you can use props and objects that you have to hand and/or to suit your child or class.

If you think it will confuse the children to hear a story about ‘mum’ you could change it to being about your own mum…

[Prop directions are in square brackets]

Mum’s Handbag

Mum was getting ready to take the children out for the day.

‘Right’ she said, ‘I’m all packed up and ready to go.’

But her handbag gave a little shoogle…and a shake…and a jump [Make the handbag shoogle, shake and jump]

and flew off and away, through the air and out of sight [‘Fly’ the handbag around in a circle and then bring it back. If you are telling the story to a group of children you could let them see and feel the bag as you fly it around.]

A little while later it flew back and landed at mum’s feet.

‘You forgot to pack…raincoats in case it rains!’ said the handbag.

And sure enough the handbag had fetched everyone’s raincoats. [Take the raincoats out of the bag and let the children see and feel them]

‘Right’ said mum, ‘I’m all packed up and ready to go.’

But her handbag gave a little shoogle…and a shake…and a jump [Make the handbag shoogle, shake and jump]

and flew off and away, through the air and out of sight [‘Fly’ the handbag around in a circle and then bring it back]

A little while later it flew back and landed at mum’s feet.

‘You forgot to pack…a bag of oranges in case anyone gets hungry!’ said the handbag.

And sure enough the handbag had fetched a bag of oranges. [Take the oranges out of the bag and let the children see and feel them]

‘Right’ said mum, ‘I’m all packed up and ready to go.’

But her handbag gave a little shoogle…and a shake…and a jump [Make the handbag shoogle, shake and jump]

and flew off and away, through the air and out of sight [‘Fly’ the handbag around in a circle and then bring it back]

A little while later it flew back and landed at mum’s feet.

‘You forgot to pack…a bright torch in case of emergencies!’ said the handbag.

And sure enough the handbag had fetched a bright torch. [Take the torch out of the bag and let children see it]

‘Right’ said mum, ‘I’m all packed up and ready to go.’

But her handbag gave a little shoogle…and a shake…and a jump [Make the handbag shoogle, shake and jump]

and flew off and away, through the air and out of sight [‘Fly’ the handbag around in a circle and then bring it back]

A little while later it flew back and landed at mum’s feet.

‘You forgot to pack…a little bit of sunshine in case we get cold!’ said the handbag.

And sure enough the handbag had fetched a little bit of sunshine down from the sky. [Let children feel the heat pad]

‘Right’ said mum, ‘I’m all packed up and ready to go!’

But her handbag gave a little shoogle…and a shake…and a jump [Make the handbag shoogle, shake and jump]

and flew off and away through the air and out of sight [‘Fly’ the handbag around in a circle and then bring it back]

A little while later it flew back and landed at mum’s feet.

‘You forgot to pack…a wee bit of peace and quiet in case things get too noisy!’

And sure enough the handbag had fetched a wee bit of peace and quiet. [Take the music box or bells out of the bag and let the children hear them]

‘Right’ said mum, ‘I’m all packed up and ready to go.’

‘Yes!’ said mum’s handbag ‘OFF WE GO!’

And off set mum and the children and the handbag, with the raincoats, the bag of oranges, a bright torch, some heat from the sun and a little bit of peace and quiet. [Finish by rattling the handbag and then use the music box or bells again]

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

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.

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!

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.