Home Special Needs Rhyming Multisensory Stories – Storytelling Through the Senses

Rhyming Multisensory Stories – Storytelling Through the Senses

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In March 2020, the world was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools closed, parents and carers became replacement educators, the kitchen table became the new classroom. 

I was aware that there was a huge gap in the provision for individuals with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) so I created Rhyming Multisensory Stories. 

I have a passion for writing multisensory stories and poems that connect individuals with special educational needs and disabilities to literature, topic and culture in a way that is meaningful to their lives.  

I chose storytelling as it builds a unique bond between the storyteller and the story explorer; enhancing well-being and enriching experiences.  

My aim was to make the stories and poems user friendly, so I created an easy to follow, step-by-step format making them accessible to parents, guardians, carers and anyone with an interest in exploring storytelling through the senses in a fun and engaging way. 

Due to the lockdown restrictions during the pandemic – and taking into account those who were shielding – I sourced low budget story props that were everyday items found around the home, garden, and classroom. 

I wanted to ensure that the stories and poems were age-appropriate so tailored them to suit a range of abilities and needs from curious preschoolers to teenagers with complex needs. 

The website has had over 11,500 visitors worldwide since its launch in March 2020 and continues to grow. 

To help get you started, here are FAQ  

What is a multisensory story? 

A multisensory story a uses words and sensory stimuli (story props) to tell a story. 

Who are multisensory stories for? 

Multisensory stories are aimed at individuals with special educational needs and learning disabilities – from curious preschoolers to teenagers with complex needs.  

The stories are also suitable for dementia patients in residential settings. The story ‘A Train Ride Through India’ was written to help a support worker make a connection with her client who had spent her childhood in India.  

What are the benefits of multisensory storytelling?  

Exposure to sensory stimuli provides opportunities for the story explorer to engage with new experiences to calm and alert the sensory system in a safe, therapeutic environment and to use their senses to understand the world around them.  

The combination of sensory stimuli, listening to the rhyme and rhythm and the repetitive structure of the stories supports memory and aids learning, playing a crucial role in the development of early communication skills; joint attention, eye-contact, turn-taking, anticipation, and the learning of concepts.  

The stories form an excellent base on which to scaffold learning providing opportunities for the individual to work towards their personal learning goals and targets and the stories encourage the use of alternative communication systems, Makaton, sign language and to facilitate PECS exchange and to build the confidence of individuals with speech impediments and communication difficulties as they have a physical (story) prop to support the words they are saying.  

Can multisensory stories inform on needs and care plans? 

Observing reactions to a range of sensory stimuli enables you to build a picture of an individual’s sensory preferences. This record of likes, dislikes, motivators and triggers can help parents, carers and teaching staff make informed choices to enhance daily life in areas such as diet, sensory needs, daily activities and leisure activities and are an invaluable tool to inform on the behaviour strategies and the writing of care plans.  

This bank of motivators can calm a person when anxious or stressed and will help to identify any triggers. You may seek to avoid some triggers and to work on desensitising others that may be necessary such as dental hygiene and personal care through repeated exposure to build tolerance.  

When used in a safe setting rhyming multi-sensory stories can be used to prepare the listener for visits out of their daily routines such as a visit to the barbers or the dentist 

What’s next? 

Your questions, feedback, and comments are always welcome

Victoria Navin has ten years’ experience teaching literacy, multisensory stories and communication interventions with pupils aged 3–19 with a range of learning needs. 


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