Sensory stories use storybooks, traditional tales or nursery rhymes alongside a range of items designed to stimulate the senses – touch, smell, sounds, taste and visual stimuli. These stimuli generally correspond with a feature of the text – for example, the use of a spray bottle with the word ‘rain’.
Why share sensory stories with your child?
Sensory stories are a lovely way to bring a story to life. Children will be more engaged with storytelling and will be developing their listening and responding skills.
Some other children may find themselves overloaded by sensory stimuli and others may not pick up on sensory stimuli as much or find them confusing and distressing. A sensory story can provide a safe environment where a child can begin to feel comfortable with new sensory stimuli – building their confidence and reducing anxiety.
For children who experience sensory processing difficulties, exploring senses in this way can help support them in learning to regulate their reactions to new sensory stimuli.
How to plan and tell a sensory story
Choose a story
Choose a book, story or theme that you and your child will enjoy – remember you don’t need a book to tell a story! Don’t feel intimidated by the prospect of writing your own story – short sensory stories can be incredibly effective, and it’s recommended that the ideal length is around 10 sentences. The benefit of writing you own story is that you can tailor the senses you explore specifically to your child’s development. For example, if you’re working on reducing anxiety on a trip to the park, each sentence in your sensory story could involve exploring things you may encounter in this environment such as the feeling of grass, the noise of a dog barking, the sensation of rain on skin.
You can download our sensory story templates of classic stories below, or explore our video content for follow-along resources.
Look around your home for props to bring your sensory story to life. Props can be anything from using the space behind a sofa as a dark cave, or using coffee grains from the kitchen as mucky dirt. (Please bear in mind that not all props are allergy-free/safe for children to use without your supervision).
Make some noise!
You can use sounds, songs, clapping and actions to create a truly sensory story experience. Encourage your child to join in or make their own sounds and movements.
Use your imagination
Don’t feel that everything has to be literal. Rain could be the noise of your fingers pattering on the table, a water spray, waggling your fingertips to indicate raindrops falling to the ground or a combination of these things. The more clues you give your child to help them understand a word the better.
Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Be ready to tell the same story several times. Repetition is very important in building familiarity and helping young children to learn.
Sensory story videos
Watch our sensory story videos:
Sensory story packs
Our sensory story packs focus on a single story and include a guide on how to use the pack, a story script, and activity ideas.