Next to TOUCH, SOUND is (in my opinion) the most important tool in your Sensory Story kit. This is based purely on the reactions I receive to sounds.
As always flexibility and variety are key words for Sensory Stories. When it comes to SOUND there are a few things to consider including.
I know a lot of people will run for the hills at the prospect of singing. BUT - and I emphasise the but because it's a big one - the reaction is receives (pretty much across the board with Sensory Story audiences) is worth it. And I'll tell you how much it's worth it - until the age of 36 I never sang, I believed (and my musician husband believed I was incapable, not tone deaf, but close). However, singing creates such a connection within a Sensory Story audience that I bit the bullet and took up singing lessons purely so I could improve and sing when I tell a Sensory Story. That's how much I believe singing to be integral to Sensory Stories. Try it and you'll see.
TOP TIPS FOR SINGING in Sensory Stories
Live or recorded, music is hugely powerful and gets a response from Sensory audiences. If you've got skills with an instrument, use them. If not, do what most of us do - download royalty free music from the internet. I find a nice piece of relaxing music creates great atmosphere for a Sensory Story, bear in mind you may not be saying much at all, so music will stimulate hearing and create a nice aural backdrop for the story.
And then, of course, it's nice to bring in sound effects. Percussion instruments (even if you have little music ability) can create some great effects and - depending on the child - can also offer an opportunity for your audience member to join in with the storytelling. If you're looking for something specific you can use online sound effects libraries (the BBC just made their sound archive available free for educational use) or find products that make a nice sound - like this duck quacker I include in The Queen Bee - Sensory Story Bag. Failing that, you and the child (if able) can provide the sounds yourselves.
When creating a Sensory Story, you never know what is going to connect, so it's an idea to try all these things and keep trying them, you'll soon find out what works for your kids.
Vicky McFarland is a storyteller and writer based in Northern Ireland. She tells stories all around the country as well as providing story and creative writing resources. Visit her website www.taletime.co.uk to find out more about Vicky's Sensory Stories.