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Storytelling In Your Area - South East England: 2018 onwards

Since January 2018 we have organised the following multi-sensory storytelling sessions:

Chailey Heritage School, Lewes. 10/07/19

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 34 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar two of the 34 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “All students were fully engaged, taking it in by listening to sounds, feeling the textures and smelling the smells. Also had plenty of laughing and smiles. They all reacted and interacted much better than I thought especially through interaction. It was FANTASTIC to see! [In the longer term this] will benefit them by connecting and recognising all their individual sensory aspects needs.”
  • “Students showed positive responses (smiles, eyes up). They enjoyed the tactile and audio clues from the stories. [I was surprised that] some of our young people really showed consistent engagement responses and communicated with consistence. I think it was lovely to see our young people respond positively to someone they are not familiar with. For our young people to "move forward", I think there should be a follow up session to consolidate the sensory input. The storyteller was very engaging and our young people really enjoyed listening to him.”
  • “They had a lot of fun and enjoyed engaging with the story. Exciting but relaxing. Children who often shout sat patiently and appeared to be relaxed and enjoying the stories. [In the longer term this] possibly builds consistence in communication skills.”
  • “[The Storyteller] included all young people in the class and was fun to watch. [I was surprised that] N smiled at props when he got to feel them. [In the longer term this will help] students gain an understanding of the story.”
  • “Good sensory input, approaching each child in turn. [I was surprised that] one pupil was really looking, another was smiling at noisy props. Vocalisations, reaching out to touch.”
  • “Lots to feel and listen to. Story was told really well. One pupil who can be nervous really tried to feel all the props. [In the longer term this will] help with engagement and children who are tactile defensive as they can touch props.”

St Francis School, Fareham. 02/07/19

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 49 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all 49 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Four rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and two as “4/5 – Good”. Comments were:

  • “We have blind and autistic children and all benefitted from the multisensory approach. L loved it! It was very hands on. [I was surprised that] R, who hates noise, loved all the very interactive aspects. [In the longer term] we would love to have more sessions like this. Interactive, responsive, creative. The Storyteller was very enthusiastic and engaging  :) Loved the smells, too! Loved it. 10/10 Brilliant.”
  • “Very interactive storytelling. Interactive props. An inviting storyteller. [I was surprised that] all pupils interacted really well. [The Storyteller] gave all pupils time and individual turns to explore each prop. I think all pupils benefitted from this experience and would benefit from more opportunities like this. I think this session was AMAZING.”
  • “The lesson was out of the normal, calm and uninterrupted time, lovely interaction. [I was surprised that] students were more alert to a different voice and different environment. J smiled lots, normally quite tense to new situations. M relaxed. L was very interested in what was going on. Really enjoyed the session, calm and uninterrupted.”
  • “Sensory activities that engaged all, simply language, easy to understand repetitive theme. [I was surprised that] an autistic pupil was engaged and focussed, participating in all activities. [In the longer term this will help] them engage in sensory storytelling.”
  • “Very good for the children with no visual impairment as they could interact with all props. [I was surprised that] one child in particular was very engaged, looking and reaching for props and exploring them all. [In the longer term this will help with] not being afraid to repeat every line for every child. Concentration. Feeling new objects. Listening skills.”
  • “[The session helped with] using props and encouraging sounds. One student signed the animals. Lovely variety of props creating visuals of animals and sounds. Two pupils were more engaged with the props and sounds than I expected. [In the longer term this will help] develop language, sounds, names. For tactile / sensory defensive pupils it exposes them in a fun way.”

Foreland Fields School, Ramsgate. 01/05/19

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 40 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar three of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “Very good for those seeking sensory output. The children all enjoyed participating. All children were engaged. Some children interacted very well and in class we had been cautious that some may not. It has given them sensory satisfaction and kept them engaged. Will help concentration / focus. There were never any pauses. It flowed and the children loved it.”
  • “Engaging and excellent storytelling. Excited and really engaged all children. A child who rarely makes eye contact really engaged with story and props, thank you. [In the longer term we plan] to provide more sensory story activities in daily school life - throughout the school.”
  • [The session helped with] enjoyment of a story. interaction with the story. One child who is particularly hard to engage and get to participate, really enjoyed the session and participated on more than one occasion. [In the longer term this will help with] shared attention, taking turns, waiting interaction, enjoyment of a story.”
  • “Good interaction. Trying new things. Fine/gross motor skills. Turn taking. One girl did not want to join the session but became very animated, was able to participate next actions, made good attempts to communicate. Another pupil engaged in actions he wouldn't normally. Great sensory skills to practise in other situations and turn taking. Also great for sequencing stories and bringing them to life.”
  • “Was lovely to see everyone joining in interacting and laughing. They sat lovely waiting their turns and waiting in anticipation. Great for their self-esteem and wellbeing. [I was surprised that] one child joined in with each activity. He usually sits at a different table but [the Storyteller] interacted with him and called him by his name, fab for him! [In the longer term this will] benefits them as it shows the adults how to do the stories for the children. Will be a lasting memory. [The Storyteller] was brilliant, very enthusiastic and great tone for the children.”
  • “A lot of our pupils are very sensory, and really enjoy a sensory story. Using and feeling the props always keeps them engaged. [I was surprised that] one pupil benefited from the props rather than story itself. [In the longer term] it reminds us to be more animated whilst telling the stories.”

Vermont School, Southampton. 08/05/19

Our Storyteller ran seven multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 16 children (almost the entire school) with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from seven teachers who judged that all 16 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All seven rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “It allowed the children to experience stories in different ways. One boy reacted really well with the actions and boards. It will allow the children to explore the stories on a tactile level.”
  • “They interacted well with the experience and actions. [I was surprised that] they interacted very well. [In the longer term this will help] to support social stories where they may be anxious about situations.”
  • “T came in very reluctant, but soon came around to join in. F, usually very insular, was loving this session. I've never seen F as interested in a lesson. He loved the sensory stuff. He was smiling and giggling and participating 100%. Fantastic! [In the longer term this will help] engage them in stories. We can refer back to this session.”
  • “They benefited through experiencing a story with prompts and action. They absolutely loved the interaction. [In the longer term this will help them] to experience stories in a different method not just reading.”
  • “All four were fully interested and actively participating. Not usually anywhere near as enthusiastic! Absolutely lovely to see O abandoning his tough exterior, and laughing like the nine year old he is. [In the longer term this will be] great to refer back to. Perhaps we could create our own sensory story. Didn't want it to stop!”
  • “They were able to access stories in an exciting manner without the threat of reading. [I was surprised that] they reacted very well to the sensory experiences. [In the longer term this will help] to explore more stories without the threat of books.”
  • “They were able to access stories in a sensory manner. [I was surprised that] they all interacted very well and all the reluctant ones were all engaged. [In the longer term] they will be able to explore stories which aren't just book-based.”

The South Downs Community Special School - East Site, Eastbourne. 03/05/19

Our Storyteller ran seven multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 43 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities. We received feedback from seven teachers who judged that all bar two of the 43 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All seven rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “We always enjoy Bag books and lovely to have a storyteller. All my class enjoyed. [I was surprised that] L sat far better than expected. [In the longer term this will help them] to learn to sit for a period of time.”
  • “I just love Bag Books as much as the children in my class. [The storyteller] was brilliant and grasped their needs quickly. It is a lovely group activity. It makes them all take turns. [The storyteller] is amazing!”
  • “All my boys took part in the session which doesn't always happen. The stayed focussed. I was amazed that J lifted his ear defenders - his parents will be so pleased. [In the longer term] I will try to use them more.”
  • “My class struggled with the transition to another room and therefore two did have to leave. All the others enjoyed and it was good for me to see the storyteller. [I was surprised that] four of my class really enjoyed. [In the longer term] I will try to re-create.”
  • “Each of my class sat really well and enjoyed the stories. [The storyteller] told them at a good pace with enthusiasm. They took to [the storyteller] quicker than I thought. All very good. Thank you.”
  • “We only had half the class in today which was quite nice as [the storyteller] spent lots of time with each of them. One boy signed more at the end. [I was surprised that] M was engrossed - not seen him like that before with an unknown person.”
  • “I was so grateful that the storyteller came to our room as two [pupils] could not be moved. They all enjoyed and one of my girls was laughing out loud. We were glad to get that on camera! [In the longer term] I will try to access these stories a little more than I do because they love them.”

Foreland Fields School, Ramsgate. 19/03/19

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 40 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar one of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “The children were all engaged. [The Storyteller] was animated and kept the attention of the children. They enjoyed the stories and enjoyed looking at and touching the props. Lots of smiles and happy children, thank you. All of the children surprised us with how they reacted to someone unfamiliar, and how much trust they had for [The Storyteller]. One pupil asked for more when it was finished. The session was helpful in building up the children's listening skills and anticipation for the next prop.”
  • “They all loved the stories and were excited to know what would happen after every prop. We had students in this session that won't usually sit down for any amount of time but during the session all these students stayed engaged the whole time. [In the longer term] I think the storytelling from the staff will improve. The session was fantastic!!”
  • “[The Storyteller] was excellent and patient. He held the children's attention so very well. [I was surprised that] all of the pupils engaged well, it was lovely to see! [In the longer term] they will look forward to more and engage better each time.”
  • “Hands-on, sensory props - presented in an engaging way. Means the stories can easily link to pupils' learning styles, needs and goals. [I was surprised that] one pupil was looking at the storyteller as he moved around the group - showing lovely anticipation. [In the longer term this will] help to ensure adults present sensory stories in most engaging ways. We will continue to have future sessions to keep adults inspired and refresh skills.”
  • “They really enjoyed the interaction and individual attention, but also watching the reaction of others. They were all extremely engaged. [I was surprised that] one young person who doesn't like to touch things independently put her hand up every time [The Storyteller] came round to her. [In the longer term] they would benefit from listening to these stories every week. Would be great to create even more sensory stories and atmospheres.”
  • “The children, one in particular, shared lots of anticipation. One little girl shared lots of interaction and copied words. [In the longer term this] will increase anticipation and exploration skills. It was brilliant.”

The Ridgeway Community School, Farnham. 13/02/19

Our Storyteller ran seven multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 44 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. 

Hazel Court School, Eastbourne. 12/02/19

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 34 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar one of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and one as “4/5 – Good”. Comments were:

  • “Great interaction, using lots of sensory props, sound, smell, touch. Stories read at the perfect length of time; each student was given the perfect length of time to react at their pace. [In the longer term this will help] students making choices of the story they would like.”
  • “It made me realise that we (the staff) can overcomplicate things. Seeing the pupils’ reactions was brilliant. I was great to see two pupils, who rarely engage, be extremely focussed. J (18 years old) was outside the group and wanted to say: "Please leave me" but he engaged. A (11 years old) was very animated and had amazing eye contact. [In the longer term this will help with] learning to simplify and use the resources upstairs (and make them for the school to share.)”
  • “Interactive, fun props. The children were involved in the story and engaged. [I was surprised] with the amount of eye contact from all of them. [In the longer term this will help with] using the boxes ourselves.”
  • “Increased engagement, inclusive stories - all participated and focussed. All were smiling! [I was surprised that] there were verbal response from two pupils. All were really focussed on the props. [In the longer term this will help with] impacts on mood and emotions.”
  • “It covered all sensory needs. Active and involved all pupils, kept their attention. Very funny and interactive! [I was surprised that] one pupil with V.I. responded very positively to all materials, smells and sounds. Pupils that find sitting still hard found this very easy to focus on and concentrate on the story as they were involved. [In the longer term this] may help them enjoy future story sessions knowing what is in store. Found the stories age-appropriate and covered all needs.”
  • “Very sensory & interactive session. [I was surprised that] some joined in with animal noises, Enjoyed feel of 'animal' skins. [In the longer term] staff learnt to be more interactive with their storytelling and resources.”

Mabel Prichard School, Oxford. 18/12/18

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 37 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and one as “4/5 – Good”. Comments were:

  • “It was lovely to see the faces of the children. The concentration lasted for both stories. Children that fidget sat still! Amazing! One child has poor hand/eye coordination and little strength in his fingers but he managed unaided to put a key into a lock and turn it! Wonderful - thank you. [In the longer term this will help with] the ability to listen, wait their turn. Vocabulary & interaction. It was too short - I could listen with the children all day.”
  • “The children enjoyed taking part and interacting with the story. They got involved. One student who does not often reach out to touch/hold anything independently was animated and grabbed the snakes - focussed throughout. [In the longer term this will help them] to engage with stories more.”
  • “They enjoyed interacting with the music and lights. [I was surprised that] they all enjoyed the sensory story - they all liked the feel, smells and lights. [In the longer term] it will help with their communication.”
  • “[The session helped with] the sensory element of storytelling. Enhancing meaning for our young people. Students seemed to enjoy 'snake' activity in pirate story. [In the longer term this will help with] looking at other ways to make it a multi-sensory experience, e.g. lighting, smell, sound - physical environment.”
  • “The children were engaged, smiling, gave good eye contact and were interested. [In the longer term this will help with] small groups, able to participate in the storytelling, more eye contact, engaging.”
  • “The sensory objects helped their understanding and enjoyment. They all participated and felt valued. [The Storyteller] was very complimentary - students felt good. He was excellent and got everyone involved and excited with his enthusiasm. He asked lots of questions which were answered by all. [I was surprised that] they have all reacted very well, especially due to the sensory aspect - the snakes were very well received! J worked well in taking turns and getting involved but not taking over. Super engaged. [The Storyteller] gave everyone time - very patient.  :) [In the longer term this will help with] enthusiasm for storytelling, practising fine motor skills. Sensory supports general understanding, helps to support considerate turn taking. Super listening. Students stayed in room - great reinforcement as session was so engaging.”

St Joseph's Specialist School and College, Cranleigh. 27/11/18

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 28 children with severe learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar two of the 28 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “All the pupils benefitted from the session. They were fully engaged and were listening and participating. G was more engaged than expected and focussed throughout the session - is normally upset by any new change in timetable. It helped to settle the class and improve their concentration - would often not remain in class for a whole session!”
  • “The story was fun and full of different sensory things to look at and touch. T interacted better than I thought. K reacted and interacted. L was not really interested but did interact. [In the longer term] our students would benefit as many cannot read. It was brilliant!!”
  • “The props engaged the children. They made them laugh. The story was very good fun and [the Storyteller] used lots of intonation to capture the students' interest. [I was surprised that] they all laughed!! [In the longer term] it informs the staff of how to do future storytelling and the importance of tactile props.”
  • “Each of the students got to join in and be part of the story. They all enjoyed the sensory side of the story. All the students felt calm during the story. There was one student in particular who really enjoyed it and stayed longer than we expected. He joined in with each part of the story and liked the sensory side of the story.”
  • “Lots of different senses which benefitted our range of students, gave them all a chance to join in, clear and loud voice, appropriate humour, carried on regardless of the noise. More laughs and eye contact than expected from some students. [In the longer term we could] gather together more often for storytime. Fun literacy.”

Manor Mead School, Shepperton. 21/11/18

Our Storyteller ran five multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 28 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from five teachers who judged that all bar one of the 28 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “The children all enjoyed listening to the books, they all enjoyed feeling, listening and looking at the props and they were all engaged. The Storyteller was very good at interacting with the children. [In the longer term] they would be more engaged in other books, help them learn new words and understand more.”
  • “Lovely responses to props - different pupils responding to different props. Good range of senses explored -smell - vision - tactile, etc. [The Storyteller] quickly developed a good understanding of each child’s needs. [I was surprised that] S and S were both very calm for the session and happy.”
  • “The children loved their hands-on experience and were fully engaged and showed their excitement. [I was surprised that] all of the children were engaged by the story and participated really well by touching and exploring the props. Brilliant! Thank you.   :) [In the longer term] we will explore the two new stories. It was perfect. Thank you.”
  • “They all responded to individual interaction. [I was surprised that] one child was laughing and smiling a lot, especially at herself in the mirror. She was more animated than usual. Three other children also laughed and smiled during the session. [In the longer term this will help with] new ideas to try.”
  • “The children interacted with the storyteller. Touching the props. [I was surprised that there were] lots of smiles and concentration from one pupil who doesn't normally sit in groups.”

Young Epilepsy, Lingfield. 22/10/18

A Build-A-Book day involving five adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, "They got to interact with different people and take part in high risk (for us!) activities such as drilling, using a glue gun and sawing. They all reacted very well to the different tasks and as always loved the stories being told. One young man clearly indicated that he did and didn't want to take part in the activity, which was new for me to witness. Demonstrates that high risk activities such as drilling and sawing may be done, as long as they are risk assessed and the leader is very clear about how much support is needed. Really great session, thank you."

Peppercorns, Dartford. 10/10/18

A Build-A-Book day involving eight adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, "The participants used equipment that could be seen as dangerous. This experience gives them both confidence and builds their self esteem. J and N fully participated - the morning and afternoon held their attention. Being brave to take part in new things and learn different and new skills. A wonderful workshop."

Grove Park School - Secondary Phase, Crowborough. 24/09/18

Our Storyteller ran seven multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 47 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from eight teachers who judged that all bar one of the 47 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All eight rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “Interesting story about pirates - especially for Y5 & Y6 pupils. Very good as lots of different senses - smell, sound (amazing voices from the Storyteller) and touch. [I was surprised that] they were very engaged especially with the snakes in their hair and the bird sounds with feathers (lovely that he put all the sounds to the mic pack he was wearing for our pupils using hearing aids.) [In the longer term this will help with] the sensory aspects of a story, as more able pupils will be able to add detail to writing and more description.”
  • “It involved every pupil in the story and engaged them from start to finish. All pupils interacted as expected. [In the longer term] one session is not enough to benefit them - more is needed to see if beneficial.”
  • “Lots of interaction, all involved and kept focused. They were better than expected. They listened, sat and joined in really well. [In the longer term] they'll talk about it and discuss the story.”
  • “I thought the props were fab. Covered all needs and abilities. Lovely interaction from E and F independently spinning the compass, pulling the flag. D - smelling the mango. T - telling the Storyteller the colours of the bird. C - enjoyed opening the treasure chest. [In the longer term this will help with] anticipation during a story.”
  • “The children were all engaged at their own level. They enjoyed the props/interaction and the Storyteller was so fantastic at really getting into the story. He used such an engaging voice. [I was surprised that] one child who often has very brief engagement levels before wanting a break/walking around, remained absolutely enthralled throughout! It was such a fantastic session to help build engagement and independent interaction levels. One of the children was quite distressed but I think she did better than expected and over time I think she would be able to spend longer in here.”
  • “Lots to do and join in with. Lots of things to touch. Very enthusiastic storytelling! All pupils enjoyed the story.  :) [I was surprised that] all pupils joined in beautifully. [In the longer term this will help with] social skills and sitting in a group.”
  • “[The session helped with] listening skills. Keeping attention for long periods of time. Social interaction. [I was surprised that] they kept all on task and fully engaged. Enjoyed all stories. [In the longer term this will help them] continue to follow instructions and participate as a group.”
  • “All students really enjoyed the props. My class were able to enjoy a group session within their own workstations which helped support and calm, allowing them to participate and explore. [I was surprised that] one student was very excited and engaged in the story. [In the longer term this will help with] accepting new people and experiences - joining together for a visitor.”

Rowan Lodge RCC, Horsham. 31/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving eight adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, "Our residents enjoyed the small group interaction and one to one attention. They enjoyed using the tools (hammer, glue gun, drill) safely to produce something they can keep. One of our residents was particularly excited about using the drill to make holes for the bunting. He communicated with smiles and positive sounds. Our residents have really enjoyed making their own book and will be able to use this book in the future and share with many other residents that were not able to attend the workshop. I think the workshop is well thought out and run. It runs smoothly. When carers’ help is given the residents get an improved experience with the one to one interaction."

The Willows, Bexhill. 30/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving six adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, "The people we support had the opportunity to have new experiences which were also sensory for them. These included the using of a saw and a drill for example. It was good to be able to capture some of their facial expressions in photos taken on the day as well as seeing these at the time. People also got the chance to touch some really sticky tape – which made a couple of people laugh when their hands got stuck to it!! C can be reluctant to hold onto anything however she held the saw hand on hand and also the drill. Her facial expression showed that she was “thinking” about what she was experiencing. S held onto the saw hand on hand and her facial expression showed that she was really engaged in the new sensory experience – this was an expression that I haven’t seen before. It was concentration – but also a questioning look about what was happening! M laughed when he got his hand stuck to the sticky tape! It was good to see D have his hand in between the Storyteller’s so that he could use the saw and drill which would give him new sensory experiences as he is usually very tactile defensive. I believe that is has opened the staff who were supporting people’s eyes to realise that every experience should be one that includes the person “trying” and being involved however much they are able to be. It made me realise that we could be supporting more hand on hand and hand between hand support for people. This will be included in people’s support plans and especially encouraged when people attend their college sessions in arts and crafts, cooking and woodwork. This can only develop people’s sensory experiences and increase engagement in their lives. The day was lovely! A really good experience for both people we support and staff – with lots of good humour! Thank you."

Ken Boyce Centre, Sidcup. 29/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving six adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, "They all took it in turns to use the glue gun and the drill. They enjoyed taking part and using the tools. D really enjoyed using the drill and painting her picture. M enjoyed the drill and sticking his flowers down on the board. A enjoyed the saw and drill much more than we thought he would. The participants benefited through concentration and listening to instructions."

Howard Goble House, Sidcup. 23/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving seven adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “I think the participants benefited from today by coming together as a group. Learning new skills. Building a book. Creating their pages for the story. Hand eye coordination. I think they all reacted and interacted better than expected. Using tools, the saw, painting, using a hammer. Sticking things as well and working together to make a Bag Book. This may encourage participants to be more creative and join in with arts and crafts. I feel that the Bag Books team gave the participants a great day in a relaxing and safe way."

The Haven, Gillingham. 13/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving eight adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “Everyone seemed very happy to participate. Everyone joined in. It was fun and creative with not a dull moment. The guys were very happy and they were more vocal than usual. They sat through the whole day. They will remember and be able to look back on it due to us being able to keep the book."

Woodgate Care Home, Maidstone. 07/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving five adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “All five of our participants really interacted and appeared to enjoy the session. They were offered the opportunity to use various tools which they wouldn't usually do and create something which they were all part of and all had a go at. The individuals who are all non-verbal engaged well. They held objects and painted, drilled holes, used a saw. One individual was giving lots of eye contact and watching each activity. I think it is something we can build on here. Do more sensory/art sessions. We could even create our own book."

Benham Lodge, Gravesend. 01/08/18

A Build-A-Book day involving seven adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “The service users seemed to really enjoy the day making, sticking and putting things together to develop a story. It was a pleasure to see all the service interacting and helping each other. It helped to build their confidence for some to tell the story."

The Wyvern School, Ashford. 19/07/18

Our Storyteller ran five multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 32 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar four of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and one as “4/5 –Good”. Comments were:

  • “Great differentiation for the individual needs of the children. Gave each child plenty of time. Wonderful storyteller - tone of voice super. [I was surprised that] one child started to reach out for the sheets, showing good anticipation. Another child laughed throughout story. A third child woke up: with her particular syndrome this is very difficult. Seeing the Storyteller read the story has reminded me of some techniques and given me new ideas - you are never too old to learn.”
  • “The story was presented in an animated and appropriate way. The children were focussed and engaged. It was appropriate for age group and ability.”
  • “Lots of variety to cover all sensory needs. Items were of a good size for everyone to see. [I was surprised that] they all interacted well. [In the longer term this will help with] opportunities to experience different textures alongside descriptions. It catered for them all really well.”
  • “[The session helped with] attention level building, participation. [I was surprised that] R expressed emotions.”
  • “Interactive with story props. Various character voices. The Storyteller was consistently using the children's names. [In the longer term] we have been inspired to do activities like this more.”
  • “Story was very interactive for children, lots of expression keeping the children interested. [I was surprised that] the children continued to join in throughout the story. [In the longer term this will] encourage them to listen to a full story and enable them to sit for a longer period of time (more than usual).”

Heathfield and St. Francis School, Fareham. 12/06/18

Our Storyteller ran five multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 50 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “Sensory experience through storytelling - they really enjoyed it!. Thank you! We'd love you to come more often to repeat the story.”
  • “The children had many different experiences and it catered for all the senses. Two of my class are usually more passive but were engaging well and responding. Really good!!”
  • “They listened carefully to the storyteller and anticipated their turn with each sensory resource. [I was surprised that] one pupil responded particularly well today and laughed at several points. Our pupils always enjoy sensory stories which develop concentration skills. Using the senses with confidence.”
  • “Lots of sensory things to smell, touch and feel. Children really enjoyed it. J was very taken with the elephant. [In the longer term this will help with] their needs with a wider range of stories.”
  • “ The children were animated and had good engagement. It gave our non-verbal children a chance to be included and gave a physical side to reading a story. [In the longer term this will help with] prolonged engagement.”
  • “The storyteller was so animated and instinctively picked up on the needs of each child.”

Connect 2, Lingfield. 29/05/18

A Build-A-Book day involving eight adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “The young people benefited much from this session. They were able to positively interact with both the Bag Books staff and also their own staff. They were able to use their senses to touch, smell, watch, listen to and make sounds with each activity offered to them, for example smell the oils put on the flowers, touch the flowers or touch the sand paper. The day was paced very well and it was flexible to fit round each person’s needs. The young people were able to dip in and out so if they needed a few minutes on the sofa then they could. Each participant was able to take part in an activity they would not normally do, for example use a saw or a drill. The participants reacted how I thought they would, very positively! There was one young man whose facial expressions when he was drilling were amazing, so happy and surprised. Thank you very much to Bag Books, this was an amazing day and so happy we now have our own book which the staff can use time and time again! This day was very much appreciated, so that staff can now see what is possible for example using different materials (drill, saw!) assuming everything is risk assessed and planned appropriately! I will definitely take lessons away from today and incorporate into my working practice and planning of activities!"

John Watson School, Oxford. 18/05/18

Our Storyteller ran five multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 43 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar two of the 43 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and one as “4/5 – Good”. Comments were:

  • “The storyteller was fantastic with our students - really energetic and friendly. This helped all of our students to remain engaged throughout the activity. Great for practicing our speaking and listening skills. One of our students is usually very challenging to engage but sat quietly and really enjoyed touching the different materials. [In the longer term this will help with] increasing concentration during story activities and promoting good speech and language and listening skills.”
  • “The storyteller was amazing at engaging and involving every student. They really enjoyed trying the different props. Some students who are usually very shy and reserved really got involved. [In the longer term] it will help them hugely in getting more involved with group activities.”
  • “Sensory prompts were fantastic. A few who do not usually join in were very focused. As we have been given 3 new story boxes we can give some familiarity weekly. It was at a level that pupils could engage with. Great props.”
  • “They were very focussed for the entire session with big smiles! [In the longer term this will help with] improved concentration and language skills.”
  • “Really enjoyed exploring different types of sensory objects. Lots of getting involved with smells, noises, textures. Lots of looking, laughing, wanting to explore the objects. [In the longer term] it supported with engagement and made a standard story more fun and accessible.”
  • “The hands-on sensory items were great for all the children and they enjoyed joining in with the stories. [I was surprised that] T followed with interest how everyone else reacted to the sensory items and E was totally engrossed in the stories. [In the longer term this] encouraged turn-taking. All were very involved and focussed.”

Maple Ridge School, Basingstoke. 11/05/18

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 28 children with severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all 28 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “Great communication with the children. Great tactile and sound equipment for the stories. Great body language and exciting voice to keep the children interested. They were excited to touch each prop. [I was surprised that] they all enjoyed story time. Touching the props, feeling the experience. [In the longer term this will help with] finding stories exciting. Getting them interested in stories. Help imagination. Helps to differentiate ideas in English. It was fantastic.”
  • “The children were really engaged and enjoyed smelling, touching and looking at props. [I was surprised that] E did really well, touching and joining in. Usually she is very shy and refuses. [In the longer term the] children will be able to use their imagination using props in class. We can take ideas from this to use in class and lessons.”
  • “The children LOVED the stories and they gave them a real world understanding of the words and the context of the story. Exactly what our children need. They loved the urchin in the seaweed. The spider and ice cream too.”
  • “Very engaging. Sensory for all children. Resources used different skills. Children would benefit from lots more of this.”
  • “They loved touching the pages. Smells were all good. Even tried to eat the ice cream. [I was surprised that] they all enjoyed and sat very well. [In the longer term this will help with] an interest in the storyline and will help imagination.”

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School, Horsham. 01/05/18

Our Storyteller ran five multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 34 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities. We received feedback from five teachers who judged that all bar one of the 34 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “The storyteller was very engaging. His use of language was great and supported with signing. They loved the story. We have a young lady who doesn't like loud noises and is tactile defensive but she loved it! She coped with the noises really well. It helped them engage with a story and recall the main points. This led on nicely to our next activity where we reviewed a book. It helped our less able children sit and concentrate.”
  • “Interacting with students. Laughing. Facial expressions. Signing. Props for students to touch. Fantastic, thank you. Loved all the props. [I was surprised that] students joined in, touching, laughing, some speaking. Some will go home and talk about it to parents. Enjoy more stories.”
  • “Lots of things to join in with. All very focussed. [I was surprised that] all focussed and listened well. One child sat for an extended period. Another child who was away from the rest took part too, at her own level.”
  • “Got to experience a range of sensory items. Lovely and interactive. Was good in a small group. [I was surprised that it ] maintained their attention – they were engaged throughout. Every child looked at or felt the sensory items. There was verbal interaction from children which is not always the case. [In the longer term] some might be less sensitive to some items we explored. Encourages storytelling.”
  • “Three students with PMLD so nice for an activity suited to them! Great literacy links. Great engagement and a chance to track objects etc. for students with visual impairment. [I was surprised that] one student who struggles to stay awake was really engaged and AWAKE! Another student who struggles with pain and settling was so settled and calm! [In the longer term this will help with] self-esteem from being involved fully. I will definitely be doing more storytelling now I'm inspired - which will benefit them greatly! Thank you so much!”

The Beacon School, Folkestone. 25/04/18

Our Storyteller ran seven multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 55 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities. We received feedback from seven teachers who judged that all bar five of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All seven rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “Pupils were engaged throughout the session. Helps language development and listening skills. [I was surprised that] some pupils were unusually motivated.”
  • “Full engagement. The Storyteller's approach was wonderful - just the right amount of humour. One pupil was initially reluctant but then fully engaged.”
  • “The children were all involved and enjoyed joining in with the actions and all the multi-sensory 'pages' of the book. Lots of use of language - descriptive and in character. Brilliant! Thank you. The story engaged even the quietest, more timid children. I was particularly impressed with how the storyteller was able to 'read' which children needed quieter interactions. [In the longer term] we will try to recreate this in Panama Class.”
  • “Very engaged, laughing, smiling. One student who never sits still, sat for the whole session.”
  • “Children were a little silly. Enjoyed the different sensory objects.”
  • “They enjoyed the interaction within the storytelling. [In the longer term this will help with] learning to sit and listen.”
  • “All of the pupils were engaged in the story. They were able to feel the objects of reference and interact with the story. [I was surprised that] one of the pupils found the sheep bleating very funny - he also liked touching the fish scales as he reached out as it was pulled away. Lots of smiles looking in bendy mirror. [In the longer term] there is a weekly sensory story session scheduled into our weekly timetable for most pupils, but there are two pupils who would benefit from an additional session.”

Cranstock Hub, Woking. 04/04/18

A Build-A-Book day involving ten adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “All had a chance to do things they had not tried before, drilling, sawing, glue gun. All the creating of the story was enjoyed and lots of laughter and smiles. Very inclusive to all abilities. All participants interacted beyond what we expected and so enjoyed it. Holding the drill to make holes, using scissors to cut flags, using glue gun, using hammer. Lots of new experiences. We have new ideas for sensory stories and of course learnt some of the skills to make more props. Enjoyment of the session so all will look forward to new sessions. All brilliant."

Kennel Lane School, Bracknell. 26/03/18

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 46 children with profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar two of the children in their classes had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All six rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “My students were able to explore the story with independence and a level that they were comfortable with. One of my young people wasn't sure with a particular object. She was able to say “no” and the storyteller adapted to give her some control. [I was surprised with the] amazing interactions and engagements. When the seagull came out one of my students was so impressed and attentive. [In the longer term] it has benefited myself as a teacher. I was really engaged and wanted to join in. Amazing! Fab!”
  • “Group participation; sensory exploration; language; anticipation of sensory materials; enjoyment. [I was surprised that] A was reaching out to touch after just two examples; M had good looking when the Storyteller turned to get a new board out; F understood and tried to smell for the first time. [In the longer term this will help with] turn taking; language; attention skills; social interaction.”
  • “They enjoyed the physical aspect of the story and being able to join in. [I was surprised that] the students were visibly excited about touching, feeling and hearing the objects [In the longer term this will help] develop a better understanding of the story. It was great. Thank you.”
  • “It was good that they were able to get involved in one story using more than one of the senses. They could use the sensory props to bring them in to the story. Two of our students who aren't usually tactile became more involved with interacting with props than we expected. [In the longer term] as a class we could incorporate more sensory into our story telling. We all really enjoyed the sensory stories.”
  • “All of the children interacted with the props and waited patiently for their turn. Several of the children are tactile defensive but spontaneously touched the props. [In the longer term this will help] the children be more willing to engage in sensory activities.”
  • “The students were able to feel objects from the story. When this was done the students were engaged. One KS1 pupil didn’t like the towel on his head so pushed it away. [In the longer term] I feel it would encourage our children in KS1 to explore different textures.”

Stocklake Park Community School, Aylesbury. 16/03/18

Our Storyteller ran six multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 49 children with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from six teachers who judged that all bar five of the 49 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Four rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and two as “4/5 – Good”. Comments were:

  • “All the students were engaged during the story telling. [The Storyteller] was great at interacting with all the students. One of our students was particularly happy and smiled throughout; the student doesn't usually engage well with unfamiliar people.”
  • “They all got to have a go at the sensory side and talk about their haircuts. [I was surprised that] all students reacted really well they were all excited to get involved. [In the longer term] it will give them a sense of different objects and the feel of them. They will also go away and talk about haircuts.”
  • “Mixed ability group predominately PMLD. Elm Class PMLD enjoyed being in the library and because it was a small group there was very little waiting for a turn. I knew that two pupils with PMLD would love the experience. They like sensory stories and we do them often in class. One in particular interacted with the props more than usual. [In the longer term] exposure to stories, drama and opportunities to engage with props and opportunities to engage with props are important activities to encourage communication with PMLD students. Familiarity with stories encourages pupils to engage with their world.”
  • “[The session helped with] interacting with unfamiliar people; turn taking; learning new language supported by objects of reference; handling objects of reference, textures, shapes. The Storyteller asked questions about the students before the sessions so she could best support them. [I was surprised that] all students responded well in their own way. Students who don't usually engage engaged today in the story. We have a sensory story every week but new ideas are always welcome.”
  • “All students engaged and enthusiastic. They were responding to all the equipment and intently listening to the story. [I was surprised that] the higher ability students were as equally involved. All students thoroughly enjoyed. [In the longer term] we are making our own tales and this gives a visual way of telling a story.”
  • “[The Storyteller’s] voice is nice and calm. All the students did calm after a few minutes. The interaction was good with students and the objects. [I was surprised that] L became calm, so did M. V's interaction became more enthusiastic and they were all engaged. [In the longer term] it will teach them that it is rewarding to listen because you learn.”

Chilworth House School, Oxford. 14/03/18

Our Storyteller ran five multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 35 children with severe learning disabilities. We received feedback from five teachers who judged that all bar one of the 35 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Four rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good” and one as “4/5 – Good”. Comments were:

  • “Engaging, exciting, even for the most disengaged children. [I was surprised that] one child who is very disengaged really enjoyed it. Both children who are noise averse engaged well despite loud noises. [In the longer term this will] influence my teaching to make stories more interactive.”
  • “The children loved touching all of the props. It was wonderful for the children to have stories that linked with real-world social events/experiences such as going to get a haircut. [I was surprised that] a couple of quieter and more shy students were laughing the whole time! [In the longer term] the students will be able to better imagine events in stories they read and hear.”
  • “[The session helped with] social interaction, sense of belonging to a group, positive mental health, discovering a different way of storytelling. [I was surprised that] some of the pupils who often are quite shy really got involved. Full of laughter. All pupils joined in on, at least, one activity. [In the longer term this will help with] team building, social interactions with different peers, exploring further ways of storytelling, deeper thought process.”
  • “[The session helped with] sensory interaction to support their understanding of the story. [I was surprised that] one child was particularly eager to take part, interacting. Sensory and visual and audio interactions. Tactile and smells. [In the longer term this will help with] the use of multisensory more in the classroom to support understanding and engagement. Repetition perhaps around words and adjectives.”
  • “[The session helped with] listening quietly and respectfully, participation in group, taking turns, touch and feel. The level of involvement was amazing. [I was surprised that] almost all kids were expressing themselves and reacting positively and enthusiastically to all props being used. Alert response to the storyteller. [In the longer term this will help] the story to come across. They might try to visualise the scenes. It was quite up to the mark.”

Community Day Services, Ashford. 07/03/18

A Build-A-Book day involving seven adults with severe or profound & multiple learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. The manager commented, “The service users were using tools independently. Working together as a team. Identifying different tools and equipment. Using paints fabrics and glue guns. Listening to the end product. Some service users who sometimes choose not to participate in the usual Bag Book session participated with a smile. Some service users who don't like loud noises tolerated the noise of the drill and hammer. Some service users who don't like to get their hands dirty got involved in the messy work. Improved their confidence, encouraged them to try new things. Some service users really came out of their shell today. An excellent day from the Bag Books team. They were very accommodating to all our service users and provided a full filled day with opportunities that some had not seen before."

Forest Park Primary School, Southampton. 08/02/18

Our Storyteller ran eight multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 31 children with severe learning disabilities and/or severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from five teachers who judged that all bar one of the 31 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. All five rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • "It was a great experience. The Storyteller is very enthusiastic, engaging and fun, telling the stories with great voices and sound effects. Props were wonderful and sensory, catering for ALL our PMLD blind and deaf children! One pupil who doesn't always engage well in stories was extremely engaged and hooked on the Storyteller's interaction. A great sensory experience. [In the longer term this will help with] improving acceptance of noises and tactile touch. Provides the pupils with new topics/stories in a fun way."
  • "Two were very interested, watching the Storyteller all the time. One was interested when interacting with the props but not listening to the story. [I was surprised that] one was interested in the props and watched the storyteller. One answered questions when asked by the storyteller. [In the longer term this will help] engage the children in storytime. Help eye contact. Comprehension. Engage children with tactile props."
  • "Animated storytelling, multi-sensory aspect especially beneficial for PMLD pupils. I also saw SLD pupils, who often struggle to engage, joining in with the multi-sensory aspect and showing great enjoyment. J enjoyed the story and engaged really well. Some good verbal communication. A good demonstration by the Storyteller as to how we as adults can really enhance a storytelling session (especially useful for LSAs to help when they lead a session). Also great ideas how to cover all sorts of different learning - e.g. colour, size, motor-skills, listening to instructions. Thank you, it was a wonderful session."
  • "The Storyteller delivered the story brilliantly and the book was a great sensory experience, the pupils were able to enjoy a storytelling experience and participate in the story! The pupils that we didn't think would show participation joined in and co-operated fully, giving good eye contact, laughing, and signing. They showed a great reaction to the Storyteller and books. [In the longer term] it will encourage the pupils to be more interested in books, especially Bag Books."

Pebble Brook School, Aylesbury. 07/02/18

Our Storyteller ran two multi-sensory storytelling sessions involving a total of 6 children with severe autism spectrum disorder. We received feedback from two teachers who judged that all 6 children had benefited from the multi-sensory storytelling. Both rated the overall experience as “5/5 – Very Good”. Comments were:

  • “Lots of interaction. Great experience. Made them use speaking and touch which is good for our pupils. They enjoyed the stories shown by lots of smiling and vocal responses. [I was surprised that] there was lots of interaction from one pupil. Good listening from another pupil - longer concentration than expected. [In the longer term this will help with] teaching / helping them with a range of skills: inter
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