‘In our forest, everyone can reach out and touch their dreams.’ Artist Jenny Langley and storyteller Marion Leeper worked along SENSE families and staff in six different areas of the country to make a multi-sensory piece of textile art, the Forest of Dreams.
The project started with a story! We used a sensory version of a traditional story to help us start thinking about our own dreams. We enjoyed it so much we repeated it at every session. The story is easy to recreate: the sensory props are mostly common everyday objects. Here is the text devised by Marion Leeper.
John Chapman lived in a cottage with an apple tree in the garden.
There was a hole in the roof where the rain came in. He wished he had enough money to mend it.
One night, he was woken by a strange voice. ‘John Chapman, wake up! Go to the Forest of Dreams.’
He walked and walked and walked.
He came to a forest of tall trees.
Something tickled him: a beautiful bird!
‘What are you doing in the Forest of Dreams?’ whistled the bird.
‘I’m looking for my dream,’ said John Chapman.
‘Don’t take any notice of dreams,’ said the bird. ‘I dreamt about a cottage with an apple tree in the garden and treasure buried underneath. I’m taking no notice of that!’
‘Treasure!’ shouted John Chapman. He went running, running, back to his cottage.
He fetched his spade and started to dig.
He found a box and opened the lid. Inside he found treasure!
‘Now I can mend my roof,’ said John Chapman. And he still had an apple for his tea.
Sensory stories are a great way to communicate with people with multiple impairments. It’s been described as ‘storytelling through emotion’. People who have no access to spoken language tune into the feelings, the drama, and the fun of the story by responding to the storyteller’s expression, tone of voice, or even the pressure of their hand and their breathing. Each line of the story comes with an a sensory prop, appealing to touch and smell as well as vision and hearing.
Why not use this story as a model for making your own sensory ‘dream’ story? Perhaps retell the story of a dream day out, one that really happened or an imaginary adventure. More advice on sensory stories from www.bagbooks.org.
You can find out more about the stories I tell at www.marionleeperstoryteller.co.uk