Bookbug for All: Sensory Bookbug Sessions in South Ayrshire

Boy and mum sharing a song
Category: Bookbug

Our Sensory Bookbug Sessions came about organically. Children with profound needs from our local Special Education School were in the library so were invited to join the scheduled Bookbug Session. They enjoyed it so much they started coming on a regular basis.

Setting up for a sensory session means being prepared, ensuring all props for rhymes and stories are to hand and that space is adequate. I have 4 or 5 large wheelchairs to accommodate so need to move furniture - it’s important that the children are in our circle so they feel totally included.

it’s important that the children are in our circle so they feel totally included

During the 'Hello Song' I take Bookbug round to gently touch every child’s hand as we sing their name. I use feathers or fabric when tickling as this gives a different sensation and allows separation for children who don’t like human touch. In 'Round and Round the Garden' the garden can be the tummy, head, back, knee, etc.  Another huge favourite is ‘(Child’s Name) blow the fire puff, puff, puff’ when we blow across the top of the head, back of hand or neck.

Bounces don’t need to be left out but you have to think a bit more creatively. With 'Rickety Rickety Rockety Horse' or 'Blue Bus', we move the wheelchairs back and forth while other children are being bounced on knees. With more active bounces, you can bounce a soft toy on the child’s knee or tap gently on their hand.

Rainsticks, bells, whistles, scarves and shakers are all fantastic to include in rhymes.

Rhymes or songs where we use props are great. Rainsticks, bells, whistles, scarves and shakers are all fantastic to include in rhymes. Our version of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ includes mummies tickling, daddies whistling and grannies draping (place a scarf over child’s head). Bubbles are great too and we always have them when singing ‘Five blue bubbles…’ We encourage our able children to interact with our ASN children by getting them to distribute props.

All children love Lycra! If they are underneath we turn it over so the shiny side is down to increase visual stimulation. We need 2 pieces of Lycra for safety: the wheelchairs go under one and able children go under the other. Bouncing a soft toy while singing never goes stale and everyone loves it when it falls off. Use fingers to ‘draw’ shapes on the Lycra .

Some books lend themselves to sensory storytelling. If a bear is eating strawberries use a scented candle to evoke smell. If someone is on a bus, use a bell every time bus is mentioned. Caress with a feather when there is a bird. Shine a torch to simulate the sun/moon. You’ll soon start picking up cues in stories!

Sometimes we have tasty treats like popcorn after playing 'Popcorn' with the Lycra or bananas after reading Banana by Ed Vere.

Feedback has been so positive that I’m introducing more sensory activities to all my sessions. The library has become an even more welcoming, nurturing space for all children. 

 

For top tips on making songs and rhymes more sensory for young children, take a look at our new resource for families and practitioners.

Renee Gillan

Renee Gillan is Bookbug Coordinator for South Ayrshire.