This month my colleague, Nicole, and I looked at sensory story time from a more focused perspective. For some time now, I have been wanting to take a really deep sensory dive into one picture book, incorporating movement, exploration, and play. The program, called "Book & Play," provides an immersive multisensory experience of one picture book. I love, love, love all of the sensory possibilities in the book How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers!
The non-registered program was held in our large community room, so we could arrange sensory experience stations around the room. We started off by reading the story to everyone gathered around at the front of room and then described each of the different stations, talking about each experience from the story.
Sensory experience stations included:
"Catch a Star"
"The boy decided he would try to catch one."
Kids practiced their fine motor skills, using large tweezers to catch the colorful stars in a bin of dried black beans and then dropping them into the buckets on the table.
"Reach for the Stars"
"The boy tried to jump up and grab it."
Kids could try jumping and reaching for stars, just like the boy in the story. Activities were written on each star, so when kids touched a star, they could do that star's activity (i.e. stomp your feet, pretend to be your favorite animal, clap your hands). We found an inexpensive arch in a gardener's supply catalog, set the arch in buckets of sand to stabilize it, attached zip ties through a hole punched at the top of the laminated stars, and tied stretch bands through the zip tie and at the top of the arch.
"Lasso the Spaceship"
"He thought he might lasso the star with a life preserver..."
I was so excited to find out about the Kohl's Cares plushies from Jeffers' stories! We used 4 of the plush rocket ships, with oatmeal container bases decorated by our very talented clerical assistant. Diana designed the base to look like the rocket blasting off. Kids were given "life preservers" (foam wreaths wrapped in colorful duct tape) to try to lasso a spaceship or a star.
"Starfish Discovery Pool"
"And that's when he saw it... washed up on the bright golden sand."
We added dried starfish, like the boy found on the beach, to our discovery bins filled with water and added a little tropical background. Kids could feel the different textures and even smell their slight salt water scent.
Of course we had to make some textured stars of our own to take home! Kids were given card stock stars to cut out (or they could choose one of the pre-cut stars) to wrap colorful yarn around.
It was a nice-sized crowd of just over 30 kids and their caregivers. We did also provide sound-cancelling head phones for those who needed a little break from the sounds in the room. Kids and caregivers expressed how much they enjoyed truly experiencing the story hands-on. I look forward to trying this again with another sensory experience-filled picture book in the near future.