In her article, Using Sensory Stories to Engage Young Students in Sessions and the Classroom, speech-language pathologist Katy Ganz discusses the benefits of sensory story time, which is the inclusion of touch, smell and sound incorporated into shared story reading. She began by finding a shoebox and gathering items to go along with the story “Dear Zoo” (Rod Campbell.) In her box, she included a pantyhose snake, a nylon feather duster for a lion’s mane, a smelly mud frog pond and a party-horn to mimic an elephant’s trunk. She discovered that students who’d never sat through an entire book without a sensory break were now attending to the story and wanting to participate. Not only were the students learning new vocabulary but they were now having new experiences as well.
I read Gantz’s article and wanted to try it out for myself. With spring finally in bloom, I started building a sensory shoebox for “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick” (Lucille Colandro) and collected items from within the story: some crunchy straw, plastic eggs, water beads to mimic candy and ribbons of different textures and colors (smooth/satiny, rough/bumpy, shiny or glittery.) I also incorporated movement, showing my clients how to hop (one foot, two feet, short and long distances.) Low and behold, the level of engagement lasted throughout the entire shared reading activity and was a lot of fun for me to complete as well. I’d encourage you to think a bit outside the box and create your own sensory shoebox for your children to experience for a favorite story!