Rhyming Multi-sensory Stories & SEN Settings



Multi-sensory storytelling is often used in special educational needs settings as a way of providing individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities, the opportunity to connect with literature and participate in storytelling. The stories are easily adapted to meet specific abilities and needs.


The combination of sensory stimuli, rhyme and the repetitive structure of the stories, forms an excellent base on which to scaffold learning, enabling the individual to work towards learning goals and personal targets that can easily be built into the stories. 


Exposure to stimuli allows the listener to engage with new experiences to calm and alert the sensory system, in a safe, therapeutic and fun environment and helps individuals use their senses to understand the world around them. 


Sensory stories are an excellent motivating tool for encouraging alternative communication systems. non-verbal, early communication skills, Makaton, BSL, body sign, choose boards, and to facilitate PECS exchanges.  


Storytelling in a SEN setting builds a bond between the storyteller and the listener, nurturing wellbeing and enriching their experiences. It builds trust and aids understanding and communication, social emotional development.


Additional learning is enhanced through the development of turn taking skills, building tolerance, attention skills and sharing. Other learning outcomes are the skills of shared attention, increased engagement, achievement of learning targets, reduction in unwanted behaviours, social interaction and helping individuals to overcome barriers through a safe environment.


Rhyming multi-sensory stories helps those with speech impediments and communication difficulties build confidence in their speech as they have a physical prop to support the words they are saying.  

We use sequences in our daily life from brushing our teeth to making a sandwich or following a recipe. Story sequencing is recognising the order of events with a beginning a middle and an end. Teaching these skills of organising information and ideas develops the students' ability to comprehend a story they have listened to and helps with problem solving skills. It teaches also transition words first, second, last.


Depending on ability you may want to explore the following ideas.


Label 3 boxes or trays ‘Beginning’, ‘Middle’ and ‘End’, '1st, ‘2nd, ‘3rd, '1st' 'Next' 'Last' or ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’.

This will break the story into more manageable components. You could break this down further by having two labelled boxes, 'Beginning' and 'End'.


Can the listener identify the prop that represented the first encounter in the story?

Can they pick out the key elements to the story and sort the props into their correct boxes?  

Can they tell or show you what happened at the end of the story?

Can they tell or show you what happened after a specific event (i.e if presented a prop can they select the prop that followed?)

Can they use gestures or body language to help convey the words? (Provide clues by describing the item they are looking for, or presenting them with the smell or feel of the item.) 


It is interesting the see the listener's interpretation of the story!

Some individuals may recall the ending of the story as that is the part they heard most recently or they may focus on sections they enjoyed the most!   

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