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How we use storytelling in children’s hospice care

All of us love stories, whether we consume them in the form of books, music, film, games or TV. At Chestnut Tree House, our Activities Team works hard to tell stories in new and accessible ways for the children and young people in our care. We are very lucky to have a range of storytelling environments at the House, including our Woodland Walk where we sometimes host theatre groups for performances which have included Rapunzel and The Wind in the Willows.

Storytelling on the move

Our Activities team often use well-loved children’s books to stimulate other storytelling adventures. For instance, a group of children went on a bear hunt in the grounds, inspired by Michael Rosen’s classic. They swished through long grass and squelched through mud before finally meeting a bear in a cave! We also like to help the children explore their own creativity through arts and crafts – their work with the picture book Owl Babies resulted in some beautiful paintings and masks.

Alice in wonderland afternoon tea with the whole family

A treat for all the senses

Bag books are multi-sensory stories for people with learning disabilities. All of us find some methods of communicating easier than others and the beauty of a sensory story is that there are many ways to enjoy it. You can hear and watch someone telling the story, but you can also touch and feel. Some stories even have props to smell! One of our Bag Books stories is about going to the zoo. It has leathery rhino hide and a bendy elephant’s trunk to feel. Another, about baking a cake, has little pots of ingredients to smell. This all helps bring children along for the journey.

Time to sign

The children and young people we care for have different communication needs. Some may be visually or hearing impaired, have limited movement, or be unable to express themselves. This means we adapt the methods of storytelling depending on the audience. Makaton is a form of signed communication which is based on British Sign Language, but always used alongside speech. It has been proven to encourage the development of communication and language skills.

A montage of images of a girl in a wheelchair reading a story book, and being read to.

Family favourites

We are very lucky at Chestnut Tree House to have beloved children’s author Julia Donaldson as one of our patrons. Julia and her husband Malcolm have treated children and their families to unique interactive storytelling sessions at the House, recreating family favourites including The Gruffalo and A Squash and a Squeeze. The children love joining in with the songs and playing characters from the books.

Stories help us make sense of the world and understand other people’s points of view. Sometimes they even tell us things about ourselves. That’s why it’s so important that we give everyone in our care the opportunity to enjoy them, whatever their individual needs and abilities.

Get to know more about activities we have at the hospice

Jack and the rest of the Activities team have written some amazing blogs about their work, why not also check out: