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!

The Carrot Seed, Ruth Krauss

Here is a sensory story for those of you who are enjoying pottering in the garden, strolling past your local allotments or growing some herbs on the window sill…

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, with lovely simple illustrations by Crockett Johnson, is a simple story which celebrates the wonder of growing things and the virtues of patience. It is available in hardback, paperback or as a board book.

A little boy sews a carrot seed and waits and waits for it to grow…

The Carrot Seed, picture book to use as a sensory story.

Although I have made some suggestions for props you might want to buy or make this is another sensory story you could easily tell using things you have around your home or classroom.

When I am telling this as a sensory story I often use a little shaker for the ‘seed’. These ones from Myriad are my favourites for this: (https://www.myriadonline.co.uk/)

Three shakers to use as props in a sensory story.

You could also just use a packet of seeds. (If you replace carrot seeds with some rice or lentils you will get a better rattling sound when you shake the packet!)

I ‘plant’ a seed or seeds in a cloth bag or sack. Then I mime the actions of the story and exaggerate all the voices!

Small watering can

Use a little watering can – you could tie blue or silver ribbons to the spout to make some ‘water’. Or – if the child you are reading the story to would enjoy the feel of water – you could spray the back of their hand gently with a water sprayer.

I like to read the pages where the boy is watching for the seed to grow very slowly to give the listener the feeling of waiting. You could also repeat these pages several times so that the child really gets the feeling of time passing slowly.

I usually have a carrot or bunch of carrots all ready in the bag/sack where I planted the seed and then I pull this out with a big cheer at the end.

If you happen to know any keen knitters it could also be fun to have a huge knitted carrot in the bag at the end, with big leaves. The child you are reading the story to can help pull it out of the bag!

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

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

For the third in our series of sensory stories to read at home that use ordinary household objects I have chosen the folk tale The Billy Goats Gruff. This satisfying tale lends itself very well to being turned into a sensory treat. The rhythm and repetition in this story make it perfect to share with a child with complex additional needs.

There are lots of versions of this book in print. One of my favourites is by Kaye Umansky, published by Bloomsbury, which has lots of interesting noises (and it comes with a CD).

Billy Goats Gruff book by Kaye Umansky for article about sensory stories.

And there is an extra-large version by Janet Brown (published by Armadillo).

Billy Goats Gruff My First Reading Book by Janet Brown

The text of the story is also widely available online, for example at: https://www.wattsenglish.com/comenius/soubory/stories-and-legends/norwegian-fairytales.pdf

It is not necessary to turn all the elements of the story into sensory props. I would concentrate on the following:

The Goats: I find that two plastic beakers banged together making a good trip-trap noise. (In the same way that coconut shells banged together make a clip-clop.) Experiment with doing this very gently for the little billy goat and then louder and louder for the bigger goats. Exaggerate the different goat voices as well making the little one very squeaky and the biggest one very deep and rumbling. I think the trip-trapping of the hooves is interesting enough by itself and it is not necessary to have other props to represent the goats. But if you wanted you could make very simple goat puppets by drawing the goats and then sticking the cut-out images on to sticks.

The Bridge: I think the most important thing about the bridge is that it gives the troll somewhere to hide. The surprise of the troll jumping out is a part of the story that children usually really enjoy. If you are using some sort of a toy troll you could hide him in a box or bag and make him leap out when one of the goats comes along. If you are being the troll yourself maybe you could hide behind a couch and jump out.

The Troll: Norwegian trolls are big and scary! I think the easiest way to convey this is to become the troll yourself. Put a blanket over your shoulders or pulled right up over your head as a kind of cloak, stomp around and use your best monster voice!

If you would prefer to use a toy or puppet then a monster toy would work well.

Some children might enjoy feeling the tactile qualities of the troll:

  • Sharp teeth can be made by cutting triangles out of yogurt pots.
  • A scrubbing brush can be the bristles on the troll’s chin.
  • A mop head can be his wild hair or if you are feeling really adventurous you could make him some slimy hair out of cold cooked spaghetti.
  • Two big wellie boots put on your hands (as if they were gloves) and banged together can be your troll stomping around.
  • Stuff the end of a cut of pair of nylon tights and tie a knot in it – this makes a good squishy nose.
  • For some reason I always imagine that trolls smell of onions. Cut an onion in half for the smell but be careful not to let anyone touch it (to avoid sore eyes).
Mop head

The green grass on the other side of the river: I like to use smells for this; they make a nice calm end to the story. If you have any nice smelling flowers and/or herbs in the garden you could make a little bunch, or maybe use some flower-scented soap. A pastry brush brushed on the back of a hand can make the swish-swish feel of long grass.

Plastic pastry brush

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

All Join In, Quentin Blake

The book All Join In by Quentin Blake for an article about sensory storytelling.

My prop suggestions to go with All Join In are all household objects; this means that you can tell the sensory story easily even during these stay-at-home times.

This is going to be the first in a series of series of suggestions for picture books that can be turned into multi-sensory stories using ordinary household objects. Like all my suggestions these are designed for reading to a child with complex additional needs, although many children will enjoy them!

All Join In by Quentin Blake is a joyful book guaranteed to cheer up even the gloomiest of days! Published by Red Fox, this book is widely available online.

It is made up of a series of rhyming poems. All of these are lovely to read aloud, and all include lots of engaging noises. Any of the noises can be improvised; be as loud and enthusiastic as possible! Clap and stamp along to the rhythm of the poems. Encourage siblings to join in!

Suggestions for props for some of the poems

Sliding

Try adding a tactile element. If you have a massage roller you could roll this down the child’s arm when you get to the ‘Wheeee!’. Or simply run your hand down their arm. The ‘bump’ can be a loud clap.

Sorting out the Kitchen Pans

Get out a selection of pots and pans and wooden spoons. Join in with some gentle ‘ding dong bangs’ and then at the end go wild!

All Join In

Cleaning up the house: use dusters or scrubbing brushes. Encourage your child to help you with the ‘dusting’ etc.

Feather duster

Catch a mouse: use a squeaky toy if you have one. If you like you can put it in a bag and ‘squeak’ it in there (so that the look of it is not distracting). Or just stamp your feet on the floor to make running sounds and mime catching a mouse.

Tins of paint: Gently brush the back of your child’s hand with a paint brush.

Granny’s going to faint: Improvise a fan from a piece of paper and use this to fan Granny!

Chocolate fudge banana cake: ‘Mix’ an imaginary cake with a wooden spoon in a bowl and mime eating it.

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

The Crow and the Pitcher

This is the second in our series of sensory stories that use ordinary household objects. I have chosen one of Aesop’s fables, The Crow and the Pitcher (or The Crow and the Jug). This is a very simple little tale, fun to act out and it even includes some science!

Aesop’s Tales are widely available in print or online. Try this version.

(This is from the storyteller Heather Forest’s website– it is well worth exploring for all the wonderful stories.)

If you are buying a collection of Aesop’s tales check that it contains this story (most collections will as it is one of the more well known ones.)

This kindle version is bilingual (English and Hindi) and tells the story in nice simple language:

Hindi and English kindle version of the Crow and the Pitcher, good for sensory stories.

The Crow: If you have some feathers left over from a craft activity you could use these to represent the crow. Brush them gently on the back of your child’s hand. Or you could simply make a ‘beak’ with your thumb and fingers and mime the crow. Add in some ‘kaw kaws’ and maybe some playful ‘pecking’ on the arm or hair (if your child enjoys that kind of thing).

And then you will need some stones, a jug and water. If you don’t have any stones handy you could improvise with duplo bricks or any other such object. Similarly, the jug could be a tall jar, vase or water bottle. Just make sure it has quite a narrow neck so that you can mime that the crow cannot reach the water.

Glass water bottle

To tell the story you simply act out the crow’s actions. Fill the jug about a third full and then drop the stones into the water one at a time, noticing how the water level rises. Most fun of all is if you and your child pop so many stones into the jug that the water spills right over the top!

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