Telling a Sensory Stories is unlike sharing a typical story. Told in person they engage, include, fascinate and delight everyone.
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This project is to create five sensory stories. To decide if this is a great project, or not, you need to know four things: 1) what sensory stories are 2) why they're so special 3) why it should be these stories 4) and why me?
What are sensory stories?
Sensory stories are told by sharing sensory experiences, that's what makes them so engaging. Sensory stories also look different to ordinary stories. These stories will each be printed on a single piece of card, for the resourced stories this will be accompanied by a box of stimuli.
I've told sensory stories to people of all ages and abilities and everyone wants to get involved. Sensory stories don't rely on words; this makes them very inclusive: they can be accessed by people who don't share your language or who don't understand language. They are especially good for children with special needs. They open up communication and enable us to meet in that special story telling place.
What goes into a sensory story?
Typically about ten sentences - they have to be really good ones! Each sentence is paired with a rich sensory stimuli that conveys an event or emotion from the narrative.
Watch the video to hear me describe my plans for the stories.
Ten sentences might not seem like much, I like to think of the art of sensory story writing as being similar to writing poetry. I take particular inspiration from Japenese Haiku.
My favourite Haiku (I'll leave you to guess why) is: "After she's gone, slowly unwinding a long hair from my sweater." Even though it's just twelve syllables it's almost a whole story in itself - think how much could be said with ten of them.
Writing the stories: distilling and refining the text, editing and editing and editing, will form a significant part of the work for this project.
It's really important that the stimuli in a story are good. A picture speaks a thousand words, but actually, as a visual experience a picture is not that great (it looks much like anything else we could see). Total darkness is a big visual experience, as is looking through a colour filter or through a moving grate.
Sensory experiences for stories need to be really big, rich, strong experiences. I give some examples in the film and I'm constantly hunting out new ones. A large amount of the work in this project will be hunting for stimuli.
I have a lot of experience writing sensory stories for different purposes, this article: http://family-bookshelf.org/reading-with-all-5-senses-joanna-grace/ gives a deeper insight into sensory stories if you're curious.
Why are sensory stories special?
I expect, especially if you've watched the video, you are by now either completely baffled or really excited! If you're baffled, I hope this will help. If you're excited I expect you knew a bit about sensory stories before you got here and I hope you're choosing your rewards already.
Sensory stories are fun.
Most importantly sensory stories are fun. All children love sharing stories and it's great to have a new way of doing that. Making reading fun will make children love it and we all want to do that.
Sensory stimulation promotes cognitive development.
Sensory stimulation is vital for cognitive development, in people of all ages and abilities, so sharing a story that also provides sensory stimulation is a great thing to do and will help promote cognitive development.
Sensory stories can be of particular benefit to children with special needs. For children with profound and multiple learning disabilities sensory stories can open avenues of communication. For children who struggle with proprioception or sensory processing difficulties sensory stories can offer a fun way to encounter experiences and counter anxieties. Children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, tourettes, and other related disorders can all suffer from hypersensitivity to sensory experiences and may need extra support in this area. Sensory stories are lovely because they can offer that support in a fun way. Sensory stories are also great for children with communication difficulties, being able to tell a story without having to rely on words can enable children who might be nervous about speaking to share a story: telling it using the sensory stimuli. Do get in contact if you'd like to know more about anything I've mentioned in this paragraph.
Why these stories?
These stories are going to be great stories. I'm going to squash everything a child could want in a story into each set of ten sentences, and the experiences are going to be really stimulating. There will be tastes to make you drool, sounds that make you jump, touches you don't want to end, and sights that will dazzle you. Better still you will be able to afford these stories. Sadly in my professional career I have encountered sensory stories that were very pricey, and once purchased, offered only weak experiences. I want great sensory stories available to people for the price of a good book, and with your backing that's what this project will achieve. If successful the sensory stories created by this project will be available to buy online.
I have previously written sensory stories on behalf of Oxfam, Amnesty International, The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, The Booktrust, Worldstories and others. Most are available for free download, to resource yourself, via my website. However all had to be written to convey a specific message, naturally this limited what could be included in the story.
As I mention in the film I also have considerable experience of using sensory stories with different groups of people. My experience of sensory stories is already something I share with others, last year I gave a presentation on sensory stories at the Times Educational Supplement SEN conference, next year I am running a weekend residential course to teach other people how to make sensory stories. They truly are a resource I want to see out there, available and widely used.
Both my experience of writing sensory stories and using them put me in a good position to complete this project. I know that it takes, on average, a month to complete a story. Previously I have not sourced multiple stimuli, i.e. in a story that required a balloon I've only had to find one balloon, for this project I might find myself aiming to find 50 balloons, and though in the case of balloons I'd be confident at doing this I know some of the other stimuli will prove more challenging. There are also other aspects of production that I have not taken on before - e.g. the printing of the story, as when I've worked in collaboration with other organisations I've been the creator alone. For this reason I have added an extra two months onto the time I expect it to take me. I believe this to be reasonable. I will keep everyone (who wants to be) up to date via the facebook page for this project. Hopefully I'll be sending out rewards ahead of the November completion date.
Would you like to know some more about the rewards?
The rewards on this project are a mixture of experiences, knowledge and sharing. I won't go through them all individually because you can see them already in the side bar, but I'll give you a feel for the different things on offer:
Of course there's sensory experiences to be had, whether it's a single smell, or a random experience with a line from a story, or a whole selection to get all your neurons firing. I will be sending you the best experiences I can find: because I hope you'll find them fun, but more even more so because I hope you'll be able to use them to inspire someone else to think about sensory stimuli and sensory stories in a new way.
Many of the rewards have guides on offer. I've tried to keep this project pitch light and friendly. I didn't think you'd want to wade through endless references and academic waffle when browsing this project, but sensory stories are based on something more than just my bright or crazy (depending on how you look at it) ideas. If you'd like to know more about Sensory Stories and the role they have to play in learning and development then you'll find the guides interesting. Again they'll be great for sharing the word about sensory stories with others and they may give you fresh insight into how you can use stories to make connections with young people, regardless of their age or ability.
(This is such a beautiful sound in the flesh, only an echo of itself online)
Some backers will get the chance to personalise stories or even get involved in their creation, but primarily the sharing rewards involve me. I did hum and ha over whether to include them - does it sound big headed to offer myself as a reward? I have a lot of experience of sensory learning, I am completely dedicated to the inclusion of young people with differences, whatever these may be, and I'm very very passionate about the topic and if you choose on of these rewards I'll share some sensory experiences with you, I'll share what I know with you, and I'll share all the enthusiasm I have for the stories with you and whoever else you want me to share it with. I'd be delighted to meet you.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
My main risk is getting funny looks from people as I hunt for resources.
The main challenge will be to try and resource the stories in a manner that makes them accessible and affordable for everyone. This is something very important to me, I do not want to create stories that require bits of kit so complicated and expensive to deliver the experience that only a few people can buy them or operate them. The ideal senario is the milk bottle lid I talk about in the film: something everyone can find, paid for by time and insight alone.
If the ideal is something everyone can find, then why do you need the money?
The project is something I have been planning to do for a long time, but the cost has been prohibitive - you can imagine how delighted I was when kickstarter launched in the UK.
The money will pay for the writing time and for the stimuli, it will also pay for all the nuts and bolts that surround a project like this: formating and printing the story onto card personalising this with a logo, boxing, safety information, postage costs etc.
I am backing this project with my money as well as yours.
A lesser challenge is the timing of the project. In my experience a sensory story takes about a month to create from start to finish. This time is split 50/50 between writing the story and sourcing the resources. It is impossible to put an exact time on this as it is a creative process, but over the five stories I trust that this estimation will be strong. I hope to start the project in April and finish in November. The two months of time unaccounted for by the writing of the stories will be used throughout the process (it is not my intention to spend five months creating the stories and then two months at the end dealing with everything else) to sort out all the nuts and bolts surrounding the stories. This time will be used to design and print the story cards, to source and box the stimuli, as well as the rewards. It will also be used to write the guides referred to in the rewards which will support people using sensory stories. I have already done considerable research to support the writing of these guides, but it is my intention if time allows to do further research to ensure the guides are as up to date as possible when published. I am confident of delivering this project on time, and hope to deliver it ahead of the 7 month time scale but have allocated 7 months as a worst case scenario because I would hate to disappoint people by completing late.
Absolutely not. There are a great companies out there producing brilliant sensory experiences, some are even part funded by charities - as they too are striving to make these stories affordable to those who stand to benefit from them. Yes, I have seen stories that are poor. Yes, I have met practitioners and parents who don't know about sensory stories and what they can be used for. My hope for this project is to get more people enjoying and benefitting from sensory stories. My aim is to resource the stories with everyday items, used in a creative fashion, so that they can be affordable for everyone. To achieve this aim, I need your backing.
The stories will all be unique to this project. Writing them as original pieces means that they'll be able to flow well as both text and stimulus driven stories. Sometimes when adapting stories you face parts of the text which just don't translate well into sensory stimuli. By creating new stories we will have the freedom to make the experiences accompanying them as rich as possible.
Of course, if one of my co-authors wants to base a story on a story they already know and love I won't be stopping them, so there may be a 'based on' story as a part of the library.
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Pledge £1 or moreYou selected
A personal thank you email from the author/creator and an electronic guide explaining why sensory stimulation is so important. Your name listed as a backer on my website.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £5 or moreYou selected
Your choice of two of the following electronic guides. * What makes great sensory stimuli? * How do I share a sensory story? * How can I use a sensory story in school? * Why is sensory stimulation important? Plus your name on website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £10 or moreYou selected
A single smell experience, plus three of the following electronic guides: * What makes great sensory stimuli? * How do I share a sensory story? * How can I use a sensory story in school? * Why is sensory stimulation important? And your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £15 or moreYou selected
A random sensory experience accompanying a line from a story, (think of this as an excerpt from a story). Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website, and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:Add £2 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £17 or moreYou selected
A Sensory Snout Sensory Story Project mascot. Please see our Facebook page for more information. We have a growing menagerie of mascots,each will be hand made by me and everyone will be different. I hope to give you choices concerning colour and scent - yes scent, the mascots provide a tickly touch experience and are also stuffed with cotton infused with essential oils so they're a fragrant little experience. I'll put more details on the Facebook page as the project progresses.Estimated delivery:Add £2 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £20 or moreYou selected
A unique contribution on the topic of Sensory Stories for your blog/magazine/newspaper. Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website, and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £25 or moreYou selected
A sensory smorgasbord: a set of five sensory experiences. (This is not a whole story, but it will be a lot of fun). Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:Add £2 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £30 or moreYou selected
A T-shirt with the unique Sensory Stories logo. The logo is currently under creation but is the word 'Story' spelt out with a nose as the S, a hand as the T, an eye as the O, an ear as the R and a tongue as the Y, so great way to share the sensory nature of these stories. I'll post the logo on the Facebook page as soon as it's in a suitable state. Colour choices and size options will be sent to backers prior to the rewards being posted. [Note, unfortunately these will not be seamless T-shirts, if you need seemless please get in contact and I'll try my best].Estimated delivery:Add £4 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £40 or moreYou selected
A Sensory Story with guidance on how to source the supporting stimuli. (This story won't have the stimuli with it, but they will be easy for you to find, you may even have them at home already and just not have noticed them!) Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creatorEstimated delivery:Add £1 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £50 or moreYou selected
A boxed (resourced) Sensory Story, or your choice of a previous reward. Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:Add £7 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £60 or moreYou selected
2 Sensory Stories with guidance on how to source the supporting stimuli, or your choice of a previous reward. (These stories won't have stimuli with them, but they will be easy for you to find, you may even have them at home already and just not have noticed them!) Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creatorEstimated delivery:Add £2 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £80 or moreYou selected
2 boxed (resourced) Sensory Story, or your choice of a previous reward. Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creatorEstimated delivery:Add £15 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £100 or moreYou selected
Personalisation. The opportunity to have a story personalised with your details or the details of a loved one. The story will be personalised with names and locations of your choice. [You have the option to choose one of the previous rewards instead]. Depending on the story there may also be other opportunities, for example to put in favourite colours, foods or animals. You will receive the story when it is complete, along with guidance on how to source the stimuli. (This story won't have the stimuli with it, but they will be easy for you to find, you may even have them at home already and just not have noticed them!) You will also receive your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:Add £7 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £140 or moreYou selected
All five Sensory Stories with guidance on how to source the supporting stimuli. (These stories won't have stimuli with them, but they will be easy for you to find, you may even have them at home already and just not have noticed them!) Plus your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creatorEstimated delivery:Add £5 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £150 or moreYou selected
A talk about Sensory Stories to an audience of your choice. [Happy to travel to any location but will need transport costs.] You have the option to choose one of the previous rewards instead. Plus a Sensory Story and guidance on how to source the supporting stimuli. (This story won't have the stimuli with it, but they will be easy for you to find, you may even have them at home already and just not have noticed them!) Plus: your choice of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £200 or moreYou selected
The whole caboodle! [You have the option to choose one of the previous rewards instead]. The complete library of boxed Sensory Stories, resourced with stimuli and guidance on delivery, plus a complete set of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:Add £15 to ship outside the UK
Pledge £400 or moreYou selected
A talk about Sensory Stories to an audience of your choosing. Transport included for anywhere within the UK. [You have the option to choose one of the previous rewards instead]. Plus a Sensory Story and guidance on how to source the supporting stimuli, (This story won't have the stimuli with it, but they will be easy for you to find, you may even have them at home already and just not have noticed them!) You will also get a complete set of electronic guides, your name on the website and a personal thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £750 or moreYou selected
The opportunity to co-author/create a story with the author/creator. You can contribute story ideas, experiment with stimuli, add personalisation including names of loved ones. I am happy to share the authoring experience with anyone of any age and any ability. This reward would particularly suit an individual with PMLD (profound and multiple learning disabilities) You will be credited on the story and will receive a boxed resourced copy of the story once it is complete. Plus all the electronic guides, your name on the website and a thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
Pledge £1,000 or moreYou selected
Sensory story telling sessions for individuals with PMLD. I will visit your setting to get to know everyone. I'll then choose, or create a story, I think you will like. I'll return to share the story with you. You can have 3 separate story telling sessions, or a series of 4 over the course of a week (with Monday being the initial visit). Story telling will be 1:1 or in small groups. I'm happy to tailor this reward to suit your settings particular needs. Depending on where you are based you might be required to pay modest transport costs (get in contact and we can work it out, we can also sort out a suitable date). You will get to keep the story so that you can continue to share it. And of course you'll get all the electronic guides, you name on the website and a thank you email from the author/creator.Estimated delivery:
- (42 days)