Audio Books Help Children With Sensory Issues

Audio Books Help Children With Sensory Issues

Audio Books Help ChildrenEveryone loves a story, and many people enjoy nothing more than reading an engrossing novel. Stories also have the power to help children overcome sensory related challenges. Read on to learn how audio books help children with sensory issues discover the joy of books.


Sensory Integration & School Struggles

Our senses help our brains to understand the world. We use senses like vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell to organize all of the information from our environment. For many people, they work in harmony to seamlessly help us navigate our surroundings. In general, when all of the senses integrate, adapting to changes in the environment is relatively simple and straightforward.

For some children, however, the senses don’t work well together. This disharmony makes it hard for the brain to make sense of a situation and is known as a sensory processing disorder. These sensory challenges cause the child to need more time and focused work to master academic skills. Although these kids are often very bright, they often struggle to learn such complex skills as learning to read and write.


Signs of Sensory Challenges in Reading

It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between a fidgety young child who needs extra recess time and a child who is overcoming sensory processing issues. Typically, a challenged reader will have a hard time with things like learning the alphabet, understanding rhyming words, recognizing letters, and tracking visual images across the page.


Audiobook Benefits

Just because a child struggles with reading doesn’t mean that it’s too early to instill a love of language in that child. Educators have used books on tape to engage their reading students for many years. Recently, reading specialists have also started to appreciate the significant benefits that audiobooks bring to children with sensory issues.

Some of the essential ways that audiobooks make a difference for children with sensory issues are

  • A Love of Books- Who doesn’t love a fantastic story? Audiobooks come to life in a way that is appealing to children, and they find it easier to understand the story when they hear it performed out loud.
  • Focus- Difficulty focusing is a hallmark of sensory processing issues. A child can get discouraged when attempting to decode the words on a page of a traditional text and end up putting the book down. The audiobook supports the reader so that they’re able to follow the story while looking at the written page.
  • Decoding- Decoding is what we call it when a child makes the connection between a sound and a symbol. Audiobooks make it a little easier for a new reader to practice this essential skill because the reader can see the message and hear the sound at the same time.
  • Inspiration- Audiobooks open the world of knowledge and imagination for a child. Through listening to and viewing the words in a book, a reader gains confidence and reading skill. The excitement that comes from keen understanding motivates an eager reader to keep reading.

Lastly, audiobooks open the door to infinite ideas for readers struggling with sensory issues. CONTACT Booksicals for suggestions on using audiobooks to unlock the reader in your child.

Workshops Using Sensory Games Develops Imaginations

Workshops Using Sensory Games Develops Imaginations

child playing with play dough for sensory games

Childhood is a confusing and sometimes scary time for children. A vibrant imagination can ease the frustration and confusion that comes with growing up. Workshops that use sensory games are a terrific way to inspire your child to explore the power of imagination.


Why Sensory Play is Important

Fundamentally, sensory experiences are a crucial component in childhood development because we use our senses to interact with our world. Vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell all give essential information to the brain and help to make sense of our surroundings.

From an academic perspective, educators know that sensory balance plays a critical part in the ability of a student to learn to read and write. There is, for instance, a direct correlation between strong sensory skills and language development. Did you know, for example, that all of the hours that your little ones spent squishing colorful dough between their fingers resulted in nimble fingers that were ready to pick up a pencil and begin writing their story? 

An active sensory game also helps children develop their gross muscles. Jumping. Running. Throwing. Crawling. These types of large muscle movements engage the senses and help to improve balance and coordination.

 

Sensory Experiences Promote Imagination

One of the most delightful benefits of sensory game play is how quickly it promotes imaginative thinking. Well-thought-out sensory immersions are open-ended, and there is no right and wrong way of engaging in the experience. Indeed, instead of boxing the children in with a set of strict guidelines, outstanding sensory explorations free the participants to create their own experience.

 

Collaboration Leads to Increased Imagination

There is a lot of truth to the idea that creative individuals become even more creative when other imaginative people surround them. Workshops that use sensory games to encourage creativity in kids are successful because they provide a safe framework for the kids to unleash their imaginations. It’s impressive, for example, what a group of elementary aged kids can do with a table covered in shaving cream. The shared endeavor increases the imaginative experience for all of the participants.


Workshop Sensory Games

Unlike very young children who aren’t developmentally ready to work together, elementary school students enjoy sensory games that involve collaborative effort. Some of the exciting ways that workshops use sensory games to help elementary age children rediscover the joy of imagination are:

  • Music– From a concert highlighted with student-designed instruments to jumping on a giant floor keyboard made out of chalk, music is a wonderfully rich sensory game that all children enjoy.
  • Theater– Is there anything more engaging than turning a favorite book into a live performance? The theater has a fantastic ability to draw even the most introverted participants in the action.
  • Dance– Who doesn’t enjoy moving to the rhythm? Free movements, such as in a silly dancing game, unleash the creative spirit.
  • Art– Materials like finger paints, feathers, sponges, and glitter combine to let each child create their art masterpiece.

Lastly, one of the most important gifts that we can give to our children is to aid them in embracing the power of imagination.  CONTACT Booksicals to learn how our workshops grow imaginations.

Creative Writing Workshops Boost Teenage Creativity and Reading

Creative Writing Workshops Boost Teenage Creativity and Reading

teens at a creative writing workshops

If you’re like most parents, some of your most cherished memories are the ones that you and your little one created as you read the well-worn pages of a favorite bedtime story. Over time, the story transcended the pages in the book as your child played with words and ideas to weave together a whole new creation. Creative writing workshops, explicitly designed for 6th – 12th graders are a fantastic way to continue to foster that innate creativity and love of reading in your child. Let’s take a look at the beautiful benefits of having your child participate in a creative writing workshop.

 

What is a Creative Writing Workshop

The primary goal of a creative writing workshop is to provide a supportive and inspirational environment where young writers can embrace their inner selves through their writing. The idea is that the experience of sharing written work within a community of fellow writers results in the critical feedback that is so essential to honing writing skills.


How A Creative Writing Workshop Works

Since creative writing workshops are meant to instill a sense of close community, enrollment usually caps at a dozen or so students. The budding authors are guided by an experienced writing facilitator who is an expert in the craft of writing and working with young people. As the group leader, the facilitator leads the group through such creative experiences as:

  • Written Prompts
  • Picture Prompts
  • Thematic writing
  • Collaborative writing
  • Genres (poetry, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and playwriting)
  • Acting
  • Peer Review & Editing

 

Benefits of a Creative Writing Workshop

The ability to write well is a hard-earned skill that takes toil and patience to perfect. A creative writing workshop is a terrific place to practice the craft of putting words to paper while also bringing other potential benefits to the participants. Four of the most valuable perks are in the areas of

  • Creativity- There isn’t a better way to expand your creative horizons than to surround yourself with other creative people. The workshop uses an array of activities to fuel creative fire and self-expression. The teens tap into their imaginations by writing and producing short plays, engaging in collaborative writing, and fun thematic explorations.
  • Knowledge- The workshop experience builds participants knowledge through expanding their view of life outside of their understanding. An immediate benefit of attending a workshop is the chance to play with a whole list of new vocabulary words.
  • Interpersonal Communication- Writing is so often a solitary experience, and the great plus of a writing workshop is the chance to develop interpersonal communication skills. The young author gets plenty of opportunities to practice voicing an opinion in a supportive group setting.
  • Reading- Good writers love to read. A creative scribe learns the mechanics of language along with such things as characterization, plot, and pacing. The heightened appreciation for how language moves onto the page makes writers into exceptional and excited readers.

Lastly, creative writing is a profoundly influential means of self-expression, and the ability to write well is a skill that never fades. CONTACT Booksicals for complete details on enrolling your young writer in a creative writing workshop today.

Bringing Children’s Books to Life with the GREEN SCREEN

Using green screen technology Booksicals brings a children's book to life as a musical
Children’s book Too Many Visitors for One Little House comes to life as a musical video for kids

 

A few months ago, I didn’t know what green screen technology was.  I thought a green screen was the color of the a green room where people hang out before an interview or television appearance.  But thanks to Scott Guy, executive director of New Musical Inc, (aka The Academy for New Musical Theater) I have not only learned what Green Screen technology is, I have fallen in love with all its exciting possibilities for bringing a children’s book to life as a children’s musical.

When I called Scott Guy to discuss creating a children’s division for New Musical Inc where NMI and booksicals perform  booksicals for local schools and underserved communities.  Scott Guy offered to take this idea to another level.  “Would you be interested,” he asked ” in doing a booksical as a green screen video?”  As I said before, I wasn’t familiar with the term… he explained it to me… and my mind exploded with ideas.  We decided to take Too Many Visitors for One Little House,  Booksicals’ debut book, and turn in into a children’s musical green screen video project.

We explored the possibilities: How to to use the green screen to bring Too Many Visitors for One Little House to life in the simplest, uniquest and most fun way possible:

Possibility one:  Remove “the crabby neighbors” from all the illustrations and in their place substitute “live actors”.  I loved that idea of live actors playing the neighbors as it makes the book very theatrical . The live actors would get to sing and dance on the page and really bring the characters to life.

Possibility two:  Remove some of the “family member’s from the illustration and have actors play the role of the cousins, aunts and uncles, who come to visit.  That was also a good idea too but the songs from the musical ebook were written for the crabby neighbors.  Erase that idea.

Scott and I both are extremely loyal to keeping the integrity of an original book and its illustrations. We don’t like adaptations.  We want the book to look JUST LIKE THE BOOK YOU READ.   Substituting real live actors for the actual illustrated characters deviated from the original book.  Would kids get disappointed that the crabby neighbors looked different on the screen?  I certainly would and so would Scott!

Then we came up with a third possibility. .. What if instead of cutting characters OUT of the illustrations … we bring 3 narrators IN to the illustrations?  That was it!

We casted three wonderful musically talented actors as the narrators and we shoot on August 6. Through the magic of green screen we will be bringing the narrators into the pages to interact with the characters, sets, and props from story.

I am very excited to be working with NMI and Scott Guy on this new way of bringing children’s books to life and hope this is the first of many ‘booksicals’ to come to life with the green screen.

Would love feedback from our readers and fans once it’s released.  Will keep you posted.

Susan Chodakiewitz
Founder and CEO
Booksicals Children’s Books and Musical ebooks
Sensory Reading

 

Synesthesia, The Senses, The Taste of the Color Blue?

Synesthesia is when a sense, such as sight triggers another sense, like smell, at the same time. Some people are born with this ability or trait… A person might experience blue as both a color and a particular taste. Everyone with this trait experiences it differently.

That’s what I learned this weekend at Building Bridges Art Exchange at Bergamot Station — an exhibit sponsored by the International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists, and Scientists in partnership with UCLA ArtSci Gallery.  At the exhibit we met Jamie Smith- a sommelier who has synaesthesia.  He spoke and did a wine tasting and synaesthesia workshop with us.

As I listened to Jamie speak of his experiences –feeling colors in his skin, smelling the scent of music, seeing the taste of wine in colors — Suddenly my character “Hopper Smith” from my children’s book Master Davey and the Magic Tea House come to life!  Perhaps this is what Hopper experienced… When Hopper tastes the tea in the story he tastes an magic garden… he smells the scent of a tiger… he hears the chirping of birds. I wasn’t thinking of synaesthesia when I wrote the book or developed the character but having met Jamie and hearing him describe what he senses was an exciting revelation!

As part of the workshop Jamie gave us wine to taste then gave us crayons and drawing pads to draw what we tasted. Though most of us in the audience did not have synaesthesia, after tasting the first wine ( a white wine) the color yellow predominated in most of the drawings.  The second wine… the color purple and brown predominated.  The fourth wine–hit me immediately… PINK… all I could think of was PINK… and the word CANDY… and almost unanimously — pink was predominant in everyone’s drawing.

I promised Jamie Smith to send him a copy of Master Davey and the Magic Tea house. I am so excited to get his feedback on my character Hopper Smith… Does Hopper have synaesthesia?  Or is Hopper just a child with a great imagination who allows his senses to lead him to magical places?

 

 

What is SENSORY READING?

 

brain icon 31429830170_nose-256lips_smile_oral-512ear3 (1)

All reading is sensory.  You read words and the words evoke pictures in your brain.  The pictures evoke memories. The memories evoke colors, smells, tastes, textures that your mind has experienced in the past.  Words on the page bring new images to your mind using sensory knowledge you already know.  Then there are picture books.  Pictures evoke the senses.  You see a picture of apple pie and your memory of the scent of fresh baked dough and cinnamon makes your mouth salivate.  You feel the story with your senses.I use sensory stimulation games and activities in my author presentations and workshops.  I have discovered that the more I bring in the senses the more memorable it is for the children.  Here are a few examples of how I incorporate the senses into the reading experience.

My book Master Davey and the Magic Tea House, co-written with Tea Master David De Candia and illustrated by Kent Yoshimura, takes place in tea plantation in China and the Himalayas. In  the story we experience monsoon rains, an ancient tea forest, an scented tea garden, and swirls of steam from hot tea, among other sensory images.  After I read the story to the children, I re-enact a monsoon rain by having the children be the wind, the thunder and the hammering rain drops.  I divide the room into four sections. Group A is the thunder.  To re-create the thunder they stamp their feet.  Group B is the wind.  To recreate the wind they howl and whistle.  Group C is the light rain.  To recreate the light rain they hammer their fingers against the chair or desk.  Group D is the hard rain. To recreate this they clap their hands.  Then I orchestrate  — the beginning of the monsoon–slowly building from gentle rain to hard rain, to thunder, wind and then full out storm…. then slowly subside group by group until only a gently rain remains. The experience is exhilarating.  We all feel as if we are not only in the storm, but we ARE the storm and we empathize with the characters who have just risked their lives to protect the tea leaves during the monsoon. At other presentations we re-enact the Blue Tiger tea ceremony,  I teach the children how to taste and smell the tea and do what  tea masters do: slurp, taste and smell the essence of the tea and its leaves.  The story teaches that each tea tells a story and you can unlock the story by using the senses.  Through the tea ceremony they experience the magic and power of  using your senses to enhance an experience.

Too Many Visitors for One Little House illustrated by Veronica Walsh, is a story about a new family that moves in on the block and changes a quiet little neighborhood into a raucous street much to the chagrin of the crabby, lonely neighbors.  But the scent of apple strudel changes all.  And once the neighbors are included to the family festivity they too enjoy the music, laughter and the delicious apple strudel.  For presentations of Too Many Visitors I bring costumes and props for all the family and the kids become the characters.  We play musical instruments like the family in the story.  And we taste apple strudel and make apple snacks.  We invoke all the senses.

Wobegon and Mildred is a story of two monster that NO BODY LOVES because they give out parking tickets.  But they soon discover each other and their lives completely changes.  The story takes place in the city.  City sounds, cars, a county fair. Both Wobegon and Mildred share a love of Pizza. The book uses lots of sensory images from colors to shapes, to sounds, to textures both in the words and the images.  When I present Wobegon and Mildred at school I have the children re-create the sounds of the city.  I ask them to take an imaginary  walk around the neighbor hood and think of the things they hear.  Sometimes I make texture boxes and fill them with things we would find in the city street, n the park, at a county fair.  Kids get to touch the different props and identify what they are and come up with their own ideas for textures and sounds of their neighborhoods and streets.  I try to engage the full body in the experience.

The concept of sensory reading developed after researching and consulting with experts in the field of brain science.  I discovered that the more you invoke the senses, the more brain paths you make. More brain pathways leads to  increased memory, capacity for learning and creative thinking.  We live in exciting times.  Brain science and art crossing thresholds.   As frequent presenter at schools and children’s events, I am constantly exploring new ideas of how to incorporate the sound, taste, smell, touch and movement  into my reading presentations.  I wish you much joy exploring your path to sensory reading!

 

 

HOW TO GET KIDS READING THIS SUMMER

 

Sweetness of Reading Campaign
The Sweetness of Reading

Summer time reading creates important memories.  We often mark time by the books we read at different ages and stages of our lives. Summer vacations from school are important growth moments, important gateway to rites of passage, provide “ah ha” moments and self-discovery.  That’s why summer reading is so important in a child’s life.

Here are some ideas to incorporate books into summer time play:

  1. Create a recipe that fits with the THEME, STORY or CHARACTER of the book-

    Every book has a food, drink, holiday, family moment, outdoor adventure… or something that can remind you of a food, beverage or recipe.  Discover what that is in the story and make it!
  2. Act out a chapter, a page or an entire picture book with costumes, props and live action.    
    Find a fun, adventurous, scary, sad, or humorous book or section of a book and give out the parts.  Make your own costumes with household items and PUT ON  A SHOW for the family, for friends, at a birthday party, or summer eve.
  3. Paint a story
    Pick a character, scene, prop or costume from a story and make it, paint it, draw it, color it.
  4. Create a Sensory Box
    Every book activates your senses in some way.  Does your book take place in the forest?  Make a sensory SMELL BOX with things that may remind you of the forest.
    Do your characters wear unique clothing? Have funny hair? Live in interesting placed?  Make a TEXTURE BOX with things you find in and around your house that remind you of your story, character, setting.  Does your story have unique food? Make a TASTE BOX with things that remind you of the country, city, home your characters come from.
  5. Create a GAME to play based on your book .
    Any book or story can be turned into a board game, a physical game, or a card game.
  6. Brain storm on a White board 
    White boards are GREAT for brain storming.  Brain storm names for your character’s pets, parents, friends, or places your characters would go on vacation!   I love my new white board which I got from bootstrapboards.  It is light weight, easy to use, and adhesive on any wall or closet.  Turn your kids room, closet or bedroom door into a creative brainstorming WHITE BOARD writing and doodle surface.

Reading is a great solitary and quiet time activity.  Important for everyone.  But in today’s fast paced digital world getting kids to read has MUCH COMPETITION.  Make reading ACTIVE and EXCITING.  Share your thoughts with me about your ideas. Happy Summer Reading!

What is a BOOKSICAL?

Booksical ibook with songs and narration

     For centuries theater was the most powerful a way to reach the masses, engage the people, tell a story and even bring political change.  A simple stage, a curtain, a set, costumes, make-up, lights and action— has a power greater than most other medium because of the intimacy of it.  That’s what excited me so much about theater and why I think children love puppet shows, marionette shows, and theater in general.    And that is what inspired me to create a new kind of reading experience…
     Booksicals are more than books, more than ebooks and more than narrated  ebooks with music underscore.
     Booksicals are ebook musicals.  And just like on Broadway the music in a  Booksical  reveals character, gives back story, moves the story a long and when the emotion is heightened, just like on Broadway, a character breaks into song.  With a Booksical– kids can read , hear ,watch and perform the book — Reading is no longer passive… but an active sensory mind-body experience.
      And I am thrilled to share that this year we’ve just released our books in Spanish. Now a child can read, hear, watch and perform our ebook musicals  in both languages.  I hope this will serve as a great tool for helping kids learn English or Spanish as a second language.

 

 

Writing for Kids

Many people ask me… where do I get my inspiration for my picture books.  “Do you think like a kid?” “Do you write in simple ways for kids to understand?”  “Do you have to go back in time and imagine your self as a child?  My answer is simple.. I don’t write for kids.  I write for me.  Everything I write about is things I would find funny, inspiring, exciting, silly, magical, philosophical, spiritual, enchanting.  If I laugh, cry or sigh, then I imagine a kid will too.

Read moreWriting for Kids

A Journey through the Magic of Tea

My JOURNEY into the MAGIC OF TEA

My journey into the magic of tea began when I met the tea master David De Candia.  It was serendipity… and magic and it all came together.  I have been intrigued by tea for a long time and thought about writing a book about it for children.  Then I met David de Candia, world re known tea master and discovered he too wanted to write a book about the magic of tea for children.  And so began my journey.

What is in a cup of tea?  Flavors, aromas, exotic places, stories of the gentle hands that pluck it….

Drink a cup of tea and you can almost sea the snow crested mountains that embrace the sky in the tea plantations of the Himalayan mountains.

Observe the color of its light liquer… golden, emerald, amber, shades of pink.  Tea is a full sensory experience andif  your mind and soul align — you can experience its magic.

With David’s help I learned to taste and smell the the tea and engage my senses fully…  I learned to taste its metaphors.

And then came the story…

Master Davey and the Magic Tea house was born of my research into tea and the sensory and cultural awakening that comes with its exploration…

In collaboration with David DeCandia we developed the story and with artist Kent Yoshimura the magnificent illustrations.  I am so excited about this book and hope to introduce children to the wonder and magic of tea and the cultures in which tea is grown.

Look forward to your feedback!

 

Susan Chodakiewitz is the author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House,  Wobegon and Mildred, Mr. Snoozle’s Exquisite Eggs.  (available on Amazon.com.  She is the founder of Booksicals Books, Encouraging Reading Through the Arts  and Sensory Reading  (www.booksicals.com/sensory-reading-zone) https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/books