Introducing Meaningful Props to Story Massage Sessions

Simple and meaningful props can enhance your Story Massage sessions, explains Caroline Hill, Founder of Making SENse Creative Services Limited. A trained Story Massage Instructor, Caroline shares how she uses props within her sessions with children and adults with complex learning disabilities.


Sensory Stimulation

“My work embraces a variety of creative approaches and opportunities including the Story Massage Programme, sensory art, sensory drama and communication through touch and music.

“Many of the gentle folk I work with interact with the world through sensory stimulation. The Story Massage Programme offers this sensory stimulation via nurturing touch and connection with another person. Our sessions together can help motivate positive interaction and well-being. However, using simple and meaningful props can add a whole new dimension by providing a relevant sensory experience linked to the story.


Increased Self-awareness and Alertness

“Interesting and colourful props can be low cost and therefore easy to source and replace when necessary. Massage stories can be adapted, and a selection of the ten massage strokes chosen, so the sessions are personalised and relevant. That’s the beauty of the Story Massage Programme – it is so flexible, inclusive and versatile.

“The individuals I work with connect with the world and its complexities through connections to experiences they are living with now, in this moment. Therefore, appropriate props can be a vital element in making the story relevant and accessible in a way which the individual can grasp. I have observed increased self-awareness and alertness during Story Massage sessions, especially with props. We can then use the same props to extend the session with artwork.


Seaside Walk Massage Story

“Here is a massage story about a seaside walk that is always popular. I bring in different items which not only link to the words but also offer up a multi-sensory experience to engage with. The focus of my work is on the journey or process of an activity rather than the finished result – so we have a lot of fun! You can see the massage story below and also download it here: Seaside Walk


 Considerations for Choosing Meaningful Props

  • Props need to be safe and relevant for the individuals you are working with.
  • Issues of health and safety need to be remembered.
  • Props must be suitable for purpose- consider the theme, age of individuals, sensory communication
  • Will the props add a sensory dynamic to your Story Massage session?
  • Consider all or some of the sensory elements including movement, taste, sight, smell, sound and touch.
  • Above all, have fun trying out different items with massage stories and props.

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” William Feather, author.


Carolines’s Sensory Art Club

“Lockdown threw up so many challenges and put a halt on activity sessions with the individuals I would normally work with. It was time to dig deep and think outside-of-the-box, a different approach was needed in order to reach the PMLD community.

“Hence the Sensory Art Club was born. It takes place on a Thursday afternoon at 3pm. A session delivered through Zoom, for approximately 40-45 minutes.

“Each week we cover an exciting and different art activity, encouraging explorations of materials and form. The individual participant can work at their own pace yet also enjoy the connection with others through Zoom.

“There are currently individual Special artists participating but also small groups from day care services. I set the activity and give explanations where required, but its very much a sensory process for us all to enjoy, rather than the resulting end product.

“Often sessions are filled with joyous squeals and encouraging words from supporting staff, carers and parents which has been wonderful.”

The cost of each weekly session is £10.00 – this price is the same whether for an individual or small group and once a slot is booked, Caroline will send out a resource list and the link. If you would like to join Caroline at the Art Club do get in touch at caroline.hill1@outlook.com


More about the Story Massage Programme

The Story Massage Programme is based on ten simple massage strokes. It combines the benefits of positive touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. For more information about online training and resources for sharing the programme with people of all ages and abilities, please visit the website: Story Massage Programme.

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