During a twilight meeting last term we were given time to consider what topics we may like to cover next and to begin planning within our class teams before sharing our ideas with our colleagues and seeking out any assistance we may need with resources. I don’t know if anyone else finds this, but planning alone can often leave me stumped for inspiration so it’s lovely to have this time for discussion and to come up with ideas as a team before I begin planning. Having said that, sometimes you can find that everyone has very different ideas and it can be difficult to bring them together. We had a lot of suggestions and narrowed it down to books or Disney finally settling on stories to cover both. Everyone has their favourite stories/films so I thought we could have a week exploring each of the different stories or films these included: Shrek, Finding Nemo, Harry Potter, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. Quite an eclectic selection! My team were fab at coming up with super sensory ideas for our afternoon sessions; we put together a TACPAC session and had a think about possible ideas for a class trip. The only part I had left to do solo was to write a sensory story.
As you know, Lucy and I are always talking about the importance of repetition, so having a new sensory story each week didn’t seem like the best plan to me. However, writing a sensory story that somehow encompassed Shrek, Finding Nemo, Harry Potter, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and The BFG seemed like a bit of a challenge! I gave it my best shot at writing a story and came up with ‘Finding Fiona’. Dismayed at his swamp being too full of fairy tale creatures, Shrek goes to complain to Lord Farquaad who then orders him to search Princess Fiona. Shrek searches everywhere for Fiona: in the sea, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, Wonka’s factory and meets the BFG before escaping a fire breathing dragon and finally finding Fiona! Yes, it is quite far-fetched and I wasn’t too sure how well it would be received by my class.
It may surprise you (it certainly surprised me!) to learn that this appears to be my class’ favourite sensory story so far! I have had really clear and strong reactions from the majority of my pupils. I use a piece of stretchy Lycra and wrap and pull it tightly around each child for the part of the story where Shrek’s swamp becomes too full of fairy tale creatures. This has been met with smiles and giggles. One of my pupil’s now will now vocalise ‘oo,oo’ upon hearing the train whistle of the Hogwarts express and when smelling the chocolate of a Wonka bar, will open his mouth and stick out his tongue. My more able pupils are remembering what comes next and signing along with me to the repeated rhyming verse. However, the absolute favourite part of the story for the majority of the class seems to be the fire breathing dragon. For this part I made a ‘fire’ sensory umbrella which I have to confess took me only a matter of minutes to make using fabric from my materials box, a little red tinsel and fairy lights. It is clear to see the excitement and anticipation through the shrieks and giggles as I stomp closer towards each child and say ‘oh no it’s a…’ I then open up the umbrella and give it a spin so the fabric spins outwards, blurring and creating a fiery glow as I say ‘fire breathing dragon!’. I have one pupil in my class who shows little visual awareness (except towards faces) but during our story he has visually tracked this sensory umbrella all the way across the classroom, his face lights up on his turn and he is clearly watching it. We’ve never seen such a strong new response from this pupil. Recent reading of Joanna Grace’s latest book has led to me thinking that this may be linked to the fact that the umbrella is largely red in colour which is the first colour tone we respond to. I’ll be testing out this theory by offering more red visual stimuli over the next few weeks to see if this pupil’s responds in a similar way.
You can download this sensory story here. Please check out our other sensory stories and resources on TES by searching for sensory_dispensary.