Sensory storytelling is when you bring a story to life by getting your child to use as many of their senses as possible.
For example, take a story like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. When the characters come across the “long wavy grass”, you could bring out a handful of long, dry grass to brush against your child’s hands or legs. The texture of the grass, its prickly ends, its smell, the sound it makes (if your child is able to hear it) and the sight of it swishing back and forth, all give your child access to a range of information they wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
Through sensory storytelling, you are showing them an abstract concept and you’re building their vocabulary too. A line such as “Thick, oozy mud” can be hard for a child to understand. Handling thick, wet mud that they can pull, squeeze and mash helps them to explore the meaning of these tricky words.
Sensory storytelling isn’t just about the physical though. You can explore emotions too. A book like Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett can give children a way to explore their fears in a safe, fun and engaging way. For example, when the mouse discovers the dark, you can make the room dark for your child. Being afraid of the dark is a common fear for young deaf children. Having another sense taken away when they are not able to hear can be a bit scary. But doing so as part of a story, where they’re in control and they are on a journey with a character, can give them confidence to understand why they feel the way they do.
Sensory storytelling is a great way of developing many areas of your child’s learning. It can help them with processing information, language, their emotions, their physical development, and their understanding of the world around them.
You don’t need expensive equipment – just get creative! Rice in a plastic bottle can sound a lot like rain, chilled cooked spaghetti can feel like worms, and a torch can make shadows of any shape and size. Use what you have around the house. If you have a garden, or a nearby park, you could collect sticks, leaves, grass, mud, flowers, stones, sand and shells.
Here’s a video where Catherine from SENSE gives a sensory storytelling session based on the book, My Presents by Rod Campbell. Why not have a go yourself?