Here’s our step-by-step guide to running a successful Story Massage session for a group of parents and children. We share photos and ideas from a recent family activity session run by Mary Atkinson, co-founder of the Story Massage project.
Step 1: Prepare in Advance
First, you need to have some information about the group so you can prepare suitable massage stories. On this occasion, we were asked to share Story Massage with children visiting the UK as part of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity initiative. There were 6 boys and 6 girls, aged between 12-14 years. They were all staying with host families and did not speak any English. They had arrived from Ukraine the day before. We were given a 45 minute slot for our Story Massage session.
We decided to create a massage story called ‘Let’s Talk about the British Weather’. The story was translated into Russian and approved by the group organiser. We printed it out so that everyone attending could have a copy. Then we prepared props including sun hats, umbrellas, woolly hats, scarves and even a water spray (which they loved!).
Step 2 : Demonstrate on an Adult
We gave a verbal introduction to our Story Massage session – with the help of a translator. Then we demonstrated the massage story in both languages and encouraged the young people to do some of the strokes in the air.
Step 3 : Sharing a Story Massage
The young people asked permission from each other and followed our instructions for sharing the massage story with each other.
At first the adults were rather hesitant to take part, but we did spot one couple enjoying the Story Massage session quietly on their own!
Step 4 : Making it a Group Activity
It didn’t take long for everyone to join in the fun. The organisers were delighted to see that there was so much laughter and bonding among the children and families within such a short space of time.
Step 5 : Asking for Feedback
“It feels nice and warm“, “I want to do this on my friends at home“, “It made me happy” – these were some of comments from the Story Massage session.
Step 6 : Reflection on the Story Massage Session
It’s always helpful to make notes on the good points of the Story Massage session, and ways in which it could be improved. So take some time to look back on the session.
The Massage Story
Here is the massage story created for the session:
Let’s talk about the British Weather
The warm sun rises in the sky (The Circle)
And the sunrays make everyone feel warm (The Fan)
But Clouds suddenly appear in the sky (The Circle)
Oh no! Here comes the wind. It blows harder and harder. Hold on to your hats! (The Wave)
Then comes the rain and it rains harder and harder. Put up your umbrellas! (The Sprinkle)
All the children jump in the puddles – splish, splash, splosh! (The Drum)
Look! A beautiful, colourful rainbow appears in the sky. (The Half-circle)
The weather changes again. It starts to get cold and everyone shivers. (The Wave)
The snow comes and everything is white and crisp (The Calm).
The sun comes our again and melts all the snow. Remember to wear your caps! (The Circle)
More About the Story Massage Programme and Online Training
The Story Massage Programme combines the fun and reassurance of story with the benefits of positive, respectful touch. It is enjoyed by all ages and abilities. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These strokes have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all.
The online training is ideal for therapists, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, parents, those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing sensory stories and positive touch activities with children and adults. All the information is here: Story Massage Online Training.