Tuesday, April 10, 2018

SENSEational Story Time: "Look Up!"

Shake the Tree book cover with tree and animalsHooray for Birds! book cover with illustrations of different birds

We have really been looking forward to spring time in Michigan (or at least being done with "swinter"), so this was a Saturday to look up at some of those things we see up above in warmer weather! 

Here's the plan:

visual schedule with images of activities done in story time1. Hello!


2. Welcome  Song: "The Story Time Ball"
tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)


3. Yoga pose: "tree pose" (adaptation for kids unable to stand: taking a nice breath in and extending our arm "branches" out.)

4. Flannel rhyme: "Four Little Kites"

4 flannel kites
One little kite in the sky so blue,
Along came another, then there were two.
Two little kites flying high above me;
Along came another, then there were three.
Three little kites, just watch them soar;
Along came another, then there were four.
Four little kites dancing across the sky;
what a sight to see, way up so high!
(source: adapted from "Five Little Kites" storytime katie)


5. Story: Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins
We had so much fun making bird sounds and trying to move and stand like birds along with some help from our puppet friends.

peacock, flamingo, and parrot puppets

6. Bubbles song:
I blew bubbles from a large bubble wand (best for kids who may have sensory discomfort with bubble machines) and we sung our song as we "looked up" to catch bubbles.

tune: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"
Bubbles floating all around.
Bubbles fat and bubbles round.
Bubbles on my toes and nose.
Blow a bubble...up it goes!
Bubbles floating all around.
Bub...bles fall...ing to...the...ground.
(source unknown)


7. Active Sensory Story: Shake the Tree! by Chiara Vignocchi
I love this interactive story (great for one-one sharing and group sharing)! The layout shifts from vertical to horizontal every time the tree is shaken and a furry surprise falls down. I handed out shakers to every child and they shook their shakers "to the left and to the right" when it was time to shake the tree and see who or what would fall out!


8. Parachute activity: "Up the Hill" (This can be great fun for kids who choose to be seated/laying under the parachute.)
Here goes turtle up a hill...creepy, creepy, creepy, creepy... (move around very slowly with parachute)
Here goes a rabbit up a hill...boing, boing, boing, boing...  (raise parachute up and down quickly)
Here goes an elephant up a hill...thud, thud, thud, thud...  (raise parachute really high and lower)
Here goes a snake up the hill... slither, slither, slither, slither...  (move side-side with parachute)
Here comes a rock down the hill...boom, boom, boom, boom... crash!
(raise parachute up and down slowly -- really high and then down at the end)
(adapted from Malaysian folk game)


9. Goodbye song and stretch: "Tickle the Clouds"

Tickle the clouds.
Tickle your toes.
Turn around and tickle your nose.
Reach down low.
Reach up high.
Story time's over.
Wave goodbye!


10: Play time: "Feed the Bird" discovery bin
I filled our sensory bin with bird seed, branches, moss, little bird finger puppets and pipe cleaner "worms." Kids found worms using their hands, scoops, or large tweezers (great fine motor practice!) and fed our hungry bird.

sensory bin filled with seeds, moss, branches, scoops, bird puppetstouch and feel box with bird face and beak attached





Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SENSEational Story Time: "How Do You Feel?"



It was another snow-filled Saturday last month, but our SENSEational Story Time families (including a new family!) said "they wouldn't miss it!" Yay! We celebrated by having fun with our feelings. We talked about how friends (and the help of a few silly hats) can make us feel better. Then we learned how our actions (and the acts of others) make us feel with lessons from a bunny.

Here's the plan:
visual schedule


1. Hello

2. Welcome Song: "The Story Time Ball"

Tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)


3. Mindfulness exercise: "Body Scan"
Lie back or remain seated, close your eyes, and squeeze all of your muscles as tight as you can. Now relax all of your muscles --- "How do you feel?"


4. Flannel activity: "Expressions Game"

flannel faces that are happy, angry, surprised, scared, silly, and sad
I gave the kids scenarios and then we pointed to the expression that best fit how we would feel in each situation.

Yellow - "happy"
What if your parents gave you a big box, and inside the box was a puppy? How would you feel? What does your face look like when you are happy?

Purple - "surprised"
What if you walked into a room and everyone yelled "happy birthday!?" How would you feel? What does it look like when you're surprised?

Purple - "scared"
What if those people who yelled scared you? What does your scared face look like? (put hands over eyes on face)

Red - "angry"
What if someone pushed you and made fun of you, or took your favorite toy? How would you feel? What does your face look like when you're angry?

Blue - "silly"
Do you like to be silly? Make a silly face!

Green - "sad"
What if you fell and skinned your knee? How would you feel? What does your face look like when you are sad?



5. Story with interactive flannels: Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

flannel elephant, owl, turtle, zebra, lion, giraffe
box with red bow


box opened with little flannel hats for animals
After a grumpy Elephant opened his gift of wonderful hats, he gave one to each of his friends, who then gathered all of the hats together again to gift to Giraffe so he would feel better! I had some helpers in story time gather the hats from all of the animals to place in the box, one at a time, for Giraffe.


6. Scarf rhyme: "Shake My Sillies Out"
I had the kids choose a scarf color to shake based on how they were feeling (like we talked about earlier in the expressions game).

I've gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
shake, shake, shake my sillies out.
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
and wiggle my waggles away.

I've gotta clap, clap, clap my gloomies out
clap, clap, clap my gloomies out.
Clap, clap, clap my gloomies out
and wiggle my waggles away.

I've gotta stomp, stomp, stomp my scaries out
stomp, stomp, stomp my scaries out.
Stomp, stomp, stomp my scaries out
and wiggle my waggles away.

I've gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
shake, shake, shake my sillies out.
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
and wiggle my waggles away.
(Adaptation of song by Raffi)



7. Sensory Story: Bunny's Lessons by Harriet Ziefert

tactile items include bunny puppet, doll, toy stethoscope, toy thermometer, toy glass of milk, blue flannel splotches, bowl of noodles, book

During the story, kids were invited to put bandaids on our bunny puppet, touch/feel his noodle lunch, help Charlie feed "baby" bunny his milk, paint (flannel) splotches of blue on bunny, and then we all gave ourselves a big hug in the end (like Charlie and bunny).


8. Parachute activity: "Grand Old Duke of York"
The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up to the top of the hill 
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up.
And when they were down, they were down.
And when they were only half-way up,
they were neither up nor down.


9. Goodbye song and stretch: "Tickle the Clouds"
Tickle the clouds.
Tickle your toes.
Turn around and tickle your nose.
Reach down low.
Reach up high.
Story time's over.
Wave goodbye!


10. Sensory craft: "Stress balloon balls"

We stretched our balloons out, rolled up play dough "worms," and stuffed them into our balloons. Caregivers tied a knot at the bottom of the filled balloons so the kids could draw faces on their stress ball. Then we squeezed!!

boys holding stress ball balloons

boy squeezing stress ball balloon

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Outreach: STEM Sensory Story Time at the Science Center


I was invited to be an advisor on the Super Spark accessibility committee at the Michigan Science Center last year. I volunteered as a guide during one of the Super Spark Special Needs Awareness Weekends and later met with museum staff and local disability advocacy group leaders to consult on ways to make the museum more accessible and welcoming to families of all ages with disabilities. Check out their accessibility page:http://www.mi-sci.org/accessibility/. They also offer visitors with sensory sensitivities a color-coded sensory map, indicating areas with especially loud sounds and bright, flashing lights. The museum offers accessible days geared to families with special needs one Sunday a month and accessible field trip days for special education groups the second Tuesday of the month. A couple months ago, Ed and I were invited to present a STEM-themed multi-sensory story time to a group of students with various learning disabilities in grades 4 - 6 on one of the field trip days. We went with an Engineering & Inventions theme to go along with what they were learning that day.

Here's the plan:

1. Hello -- "Today we are talking about engineering and inventions. Have you ever built something? What is your favorite invention?"

2. Mindfulness exercise: "Balloon breaths"  -- holding our imaginary balloon, take deep breaths and blow up your balloon until it's "so full," then release it (repeat).

3. Activity rhyme: "Building a Skyscraper"
Brick by brick
by brick by brick.
My building's so high
it's scraping the sky.
(place fists one on top of the other, going higher each time)

Brick by brick
by brick by brick.
My building will sway
when the wind blows this way.
(sway left, then right)

Brick by brick 
by brick by brick.
Now I'm ready to stop 
and a flag goes on top.
(open one fist and wave left and right)

(Source: Reedy, Polly 1001 Rhymes & Fingerplays)


4. Story: Dreaming Up: a Celebration of Building by Christy Hale
We scanned and projected this story on their big screen for this large group and added sensory experiences from the story -- touching water and clay (like the village in Egypt made from the four basic elements of earth, water, sun, and air), inviting a few students up to make a fort with blankets and chairs (similar to the design of the Yoyogi National Stadium in Japan), building with Legos (to look like the housing complex in Montreal, Canada), and passing around paper tubes (imagining a whole school made from larger, heavier versions like the temporary paper tube school in China).


5. Interactive flannel activity: Building with flannel shapes
We kept the building theme going, inspired by the book Moving Blocks by Yusuke Yonezu and a Flannel Friday post from Storytime Katie and Mel's Desk


We invited volunteers up to design a car and a rocket ship with our flannel shapes. Here's the rocket ship.



6. Story: Imaginative Inventions by Charise Mericle Harper

We chose a few of the invention spreads in the book that we thought the students might really enjoy and added some fun sensory experiences: 
1. potato chips (We offered everyone a chip to taste of course!)
2. frisbee (The very large theater was a great space to throw and catch the frisbee with a few volunteers.) 
3. doughnut (We didn't taste, but smelled the wonderful cinnamon aroma!)
4. flat-bottomed paper bag (Kids passed around a paper grocery bag from today's grocery store.)
5. chewing gum (Yes -- everyone got a piece of gum to chew. This was a favorite!)


7. Goodbye song: "The Inventor Song"
Oh it took Bell to make the telephone ring,
And it took Edison to light up our way.
It took Robert Fulton in a steamboat,
to go chug-chug-chugging down the bay.

Otis made the elevator go up,
McCormick's reaper reaped the rye.

So when you're spelling the word inventor
don't forget to dot the I!

Richard Hoe improved the printing press,
so we could get the news.
Charles Goodyear made the rubber
for the heels upon our shoes.

So if you talk about a new invention.
Incidentally don't forget to mention...

That it took Morse to make the telegraph hum
and it took Henry Ford to make an auto 
so that folks could go and take a drive.
Howe knew how to make a sewing machine.
The Wrights learned the right way to fly.

So when you're spelling the word inventor
don't forget to dot the I!
(adapted from classic school song)


We received so much positive feedback from the teachers the next day. I'm not sure who had more fun though - the students or us?!



Monday, January 22, 2018

SENSEational Story Time: Let's Build!




Inspired by our STEM sensory story time on engineering at the Michigan Science Center last month (blog post coming soon!), I decided to continue that theme with our SENSEational Story Time families this month. We talked about "engineering" and building with a variety of things, including cats!

Here's the plan:


Welcome Song: "The Story Time Ball"

Tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)


Yoga pose: "Bridge" (We also included an adapted "bridge" pose for those with mobile disabilities: raising arms up)

Active rhyme: "Building a Skyscraper"

Brick by brick
by brick by brick.
My building's so high,
it's scraping the sky.
(Place fists one on top of the other, going higher each time.)

Brick by brick
by brick by brick.
My building will sway
when the wind blows this way.
(Sway left, then right.)

Brick by brick
by brick by brick.
Now I'm ready to stop
and a flag goes on top.
(Open one fist and wave hand left and right.)
(source: Reed, Polly. 1001 Rhymes & Fingerplays)


Story with interactive flannel activity: Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani

Each child was given a flannel kitty to add to the flannel board while reading the story. They loved stacking those kitties!
















Stretch band rhyme: "Cranes"

Cranes reach up,
(reach up)
cranes reach down.
(reach down)
Cranes reach out,
(reach straight out)
and all around.
(reach around in a circle)
(source: Jbrary)


Sensory story: What To Do With a Box by Jane Yolen and Chris Sheban
I saved a nice box from my last big collection order for this one! Each child was invited to come inside the box, draw the sun and the egret flying by, "race around the dirt track," have tea, and feel the breeze on the "river" while I fanned them with a small handheld fan.
















Parachute activity: "London Bridge"

London Bridge is falling down,
falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
my fair lady.
(walk in circle holding parachute, "fall down," walk in circle -- kids with mobile disabilities can sit underneath)

Take the bricks and build her up,
build her up, build her up.
Take the bricks and build her up,
my fair lady.
(walk in circle holding parachute, raise it up, walk in circle)
(adaptation of classic song)


Goodbye song and stretch: "Tickle the Clouds"

Tickle the clouds.
Tickle your toes.
Turn around and tickle your nose.
Reach down low.
Reach up high.
Story time's over.
Wave goodbye!


Play time:
We got out the big cardboard blocks and built, of course! We made buildings, bridges, trucks, and many other cool things.



Tuesday, December 19, 2017

SENSEational Story Time: "Things That Go 'Round"



Saturday was a bit snowy, as you can see looking out from our story room window below, but we did have a few brave families come in to join our celebration of "things that go 'round."


We talked about some of the round-shaped things we see every day and what things might go around (did someone say "the wheels on the bus?!").
Here's the plan:


Welcome song: "The Story Time Ball"
Tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)


Mindfulness exercise: "Balloon breath"
(Mindfulness exercises and activities are great for helping with self-regulation, building focus and engaging with the world around you.)


Flannel rhyme: "Riding 'Round in my..."
(Tune: Bumping Up and Down")
Riding 'round in my little yellow car
riding 'round in my little yellow car
riding 'round in my little yellow car
Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom.

Additional verses:
Truck... honk, honk, honk, honk, honk.
Train...choo, choo, choo, choo, choo.
(adapted from classic nursery song: "Driving Around in My Little Red Car")


Story: Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier
I love using this story in story time! I added tactile, auditory and visual sensory experiences as I read the story: balloons, peas in a pod, ball (a "dot for kicking!"), and bubbles! The great thing about having a smaller group is being able to spend more time with these experiences, like kicking the "dot" and catching the bubbles. (Note: using a Wiggly Giggly ball makes a fun sound when moved, adding an auditory experience for your group)




Stretch band rhyme: "Roly-Poly"
Roly-poly, roly-poly
out, out, out.
Roly-poly, roly-poly
in, in, in.
Roly-poly, roly-poly
touch your nose.
Roly-poly, roly-poly
touch your toes.
Roly-poly, roly-poly
up to the sky.
Roly-poly, roly-poly
fly, fly, fly.
(do actions using stretch bands)
(source: classic nursery rhyme)


(Active) Story: What Do Wheels Do All Day? by April Jones Prince
Adding active experiences to your stories helps to engage active, tactile learners. We used these neat circle-shape bean bags for our "steering wheels." Every time we saw something in the story that could be "driven" with a steering wheel, we steered our little bean bag wheels. You could also use a paper plate with the center cut out. Another great idea borrowed from: Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books through Movement by Julie Dietzel-Glair (ALA store).





Parachute activity: "Wheels on the Bus"


Goodbye song and stretch: "Tickle the Clouds"

Tickle the clouds.
Tickle your toes.
Turn around and tickle your nose.
Reach down low.
Reach up high.
Story time's over.
Wave goodbye!


Sensory craft and activity:
We made these works of "dot art" with our washable paint daubers and then played with some things that go 'round!









Monday, November 27, 2017

SENSEational Story Time: "Harvest Time"

One Red Apple book cover with apple tree and kids playingScarecrow, Scarecrow, What do You See? cover
Last Saturday was a celebration of the fall harvest. We talked about what harvest time means. "Does anyone have a garden at home? What is your favorite vegetable or fruit? What fruit grows in a tree? What else do you see in the garden? What does a scarecrow do?

Here's the plan:

Visual schedule for Harvest Time story time


Welcome song: "The Story Time Ball"
Tune: "Wheels on the Bus"
(Roll ball back and forth to each child)
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth.
The story time ball rolls back and forth,
Let's see who it found. Hi ______!
Now roll it back to me.
(Keep rolling back and forth until each child has said their name.)


Yoga pose: "Scarecrow" (Mountain pose with arms extended out)


Finger puppet rhyme: "Two Little Blackbirds"
(Do motions with puppets or fingers)
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill,
one named Bob and the other named Bill.
Fly away Bob.
Fly away Bill.
Move fingers behind back.
Come back Bob.
Come back Bill.
Move fingers back in front.


Story: Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What Do You See? by Lisa Erwin, SLP
I love using adapted books with simple, repetitive stories and interactive images (attached with velcro). I enlarged this book and interactive image pieces to poster-size, looped ring clips through the top and attached it to our story time easel to flip through.
(source: My Speech Tools)
first page of Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What do You See? book

Stretch band rhyme: "Way Up High in the Apple Tree"
Way up high in the apple tree,
two little apples smiling at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could,
and down came the apples.
Mmmm... they were good!


Story: One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert
I gave everyone a di-cut apple on a stick to hold up every time they heard the word apple, repeated frequently throughout the story. This engaging idea came from the book Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books through Movement by Julie Dietzel-Glair, which I highly recommend for more sensory story time activity ideas. (ALA store)

After reading the story, I passed around a big, red apple so everyone could see, feel and smell the apples. I then passed around an apple that was cut open to show the apple seeds that were scattered by the wind in the story.

applesdi-cut apples on sticks


Parachute activity: "Popcorn, Popcorn"
(Kids can walk around holding the parachute or sit underneath as we "pop" the corn over their heads.)
Popcorn, popcorn,
sizzling in the pan.
Shake it up, shake it up,
bam, bam, bam!
Popcorn, popcorn
now it's getting hot.
Shake it up, shake it up,
Pop, pop, pop!
(source: unknown)


Goodbye song and stretch: "Tickle the Clouds"

Tickle the clouds.
Tickle your toes.
Turn around and tickle your nose.
Reach down low.
Reach up high.
Story time's over.
Wave goodbye!


Sensory craft: "Veggie painting"
We dipped pre-cut potatoes and carrots into washable paint to create these harvest works of art!


child painting with carrots and a potato 


vegetable painting
















Thursday, November 16, 2017

Outreach: "Mid-Fall Favorites" Sensory Story Time



Ed and I were back at Wing Lake Developmental Center today and we brought some "mid-fall favorites" with us. We visited two groups of students, ages 3 - 26 years, with multiple disabilities. To ensure visibility for everyone, many in wheel chairs or specially adaptive seating, we scan the books and project them from a laptop.

Here's the plan:


Welcome: "Let's talk about things that happen in the fall. What do you like about the fall? (cider mills? cider mill donuts?!) Look out the window. What is happening to the leaves on the trees outside? Do you like the cooler air? What holiday is coming up next week? (Thanksgiving! What's your favorite food at Thanksgiving dinner?)"


Song: "The Leaves on the Trees"
(tune: "Wheels on the Bus")
The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown,
orange and brown, orange and brown.
The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown all over town.

The leaves on the trees come tumbling down,
tumbling down, tumbling down.
The leaves on the trees come tumbling down all over town.

The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
swish, swish, swish
swish, swish, swish.
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
all over town.
(source: sunflowerstorytime.com)


Story: In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes
One of my new favorite fall stories! Beautiful "age respectful" illustrations and a simple story, with many points to add sensory experiences, made this a great choice for these students. We brought in a plush squirrel (to feel the frisky squirrel's tail), pumpkins (from the pumpkin patch), apples (the ones hanging in the tree "like ornaments"), dry leaves (from the leaf pile that the girl and her dog were playing in), and bags of artificial snow (that the squirrel sees falling outside his tree at the end). We take these items around to each student to touch/feel/smell. Some students have low or no vision, so these tactile and scented experiences (we loved smelling the apples!) make the story more engaging and help to reinforce comprehension. As we are reading, we also describe the illustrations in the story so everyone can "see."


Flannel rhyme: "Five Little Leaves"
Five little leaves so bright and gay
were dancing about on a tree one day.
The wind came blowing through town
and one little leaf came tumbling down.
(keep counting down until all leaves have fallen)
(source: unknown)


Non-fiction picture book: Thanksgiving by Rebecca Pettiford
This simple picture book has great photograph illustrations of all the things we might see/hear/taste at Thanksgiving!


Song: "If You're Thankful and You Know It"
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're thankful and you know it,
then your face will surely show it.
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands.
(can repeat with other actions, depending on audience abilities)


Sensory craft: "Squished paint autumn trees"
We drew tree outlines on gallon-size sealable bags, squeezed drops of fall-colored, washable tempera paints inside and sealed the bags. Students loved "smoooshing" and smoothing the squishy colors inside to turn their tree into a beautiful autumn tree. This is a great craft for all abilities.
(source: Crafts on Sea)