Friday, 31 October 2014

Story telling with little ones with special needs and disabilities

Story props

Walking through the Jungle
Using walking through the Jungle to encourage sounds,
and symbolic play.

Soft or plastic toy elephant, lion, monkey, snake and crocodile - a crocodile puppet or switch toy ideal!

. The story contains several sounds and repeated refrains for children to join in or copy, and lends itself well to have the toy walk, swing or jump from child to child. Children copy the listening gesture for "can you hear a noise?" And can be encouraged to join in making the sound. Putting the animal sound or just the snap snap onto a big point switch can enable a child without much vocalisation to join in.
The toy can be left with particular children to explore - those that need more time, a sensory cue or something to fiddle with.
Visually impaired children can be helped to explore the defining feature such as the lion's mane, elephant's trunk to help them learn to identify the animal. It's even better if the animals have a different texture. We have a fabulous crocodile puppet and a switch operated crocodile that snaps its jaws.

At the end, the crocodile puppet has a huge impact. This has enabled the children to demonstrate anticipation, as they show excitement at the first "snap snap" , and start to join in with the actions or signs. We used play food to encourage the children to feed the crocodile after the story, offering a choice of two items. This was fun for our children who were learning to make choices, or beginning signing, and introduced some to their first symbolic play. . Joint chorusing of animal noises has helped a child with verbal dyspraxia really get enthusiastic about making these sounds.

In the classroom we had animals from the story including a small crocodile in the tuff spot with leaves and plastic food. The children played feeding the crocodile without any adult intervention. We had the switch operated crocodile, which motivated several children with few words to call out 'snap snap' They also explored picture matching cards of the animals. It was interesting to see one child who normally avoided this kind of activity excitedly playing with these and naming the animals.

Dear Zoo

The Dear Zoo story book is a favourite.
We have the standard flap book, and one with sounds.

I used a collection of boxes and a selection of toy animals. My toy elephant is really huge, and soft and just bursts out of his box.
Gift boxes would work, or decorated empty packaging or talking boxes.
I put a picture of the animal on each one - this is a good opportunity to model and let the children explore object to picture matching. For less able children there is the action of lifting the lid of the box, or looking inside and pulling something out.

The story introduces lots of great concepts and characteristics - big, tall need props that stress this.
Behaviour characteristics such as too naught or jumpy can be acted with the props, and the children seem to really enjoy being fierce or grumpy or scary.

There's another chance for group noises for the fierce roar or scary hiss.

We put each animal back in it's box with the line" so I sent him back" - useful for teaching that action, and we say "bye bye lion" demonstrating a wave for the children just starting to copy gestures, and giving lots of practice at a simple 2 word phrase for more verbal children. The repetitive nature of the story gives the chance for lots of practice.

In the classroom we are starting to explore animal pictures under flaps, matching pictures, boxes and animals in the small world play. We also have some Dear zoo party animal masks.

The Boy on the Bus

My props for this story include a selection of farm animals, including quite a few sheep, and a cardboard box painted and made to look like a bus, with an opening in the roof to put animals in.

This story is one that I use with very young children who haven't had much experience of group story. It's gentle, with farm animal vocabulary, and it surprises children as it is familiar, yet different. This seems to be a factor in the way it holds the children's attention. It has a repeat refrain, "who wants to ride on the bus?" and lots of farm animal noises to copy and John in.

I used it for practising putting things in containers with the children at very early stages of development, for picking up and releasing for the children with physical disabilities, for selecting the right animals with more able children, animal names and noises. It's great for children who enjoy song time, but haven't yet learned to listen to a story. We sing bits of it, too, then go into the more familiar version.

In the classroom we have the animals out with a truck or trucks to fill. Or a road mat with buses.

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