Making Stories Sparkle! An Invitation to an Interactive Story Time

Hello, I’m Gwynnie-Gwyn-Gwyn, the storyteller and creator of the Story Time Show, a show that is inclusive of the whole family or class. It’s a show that has children with complex learning needs and their families at its heart. It’s a show that aims to have FUN!

Can you imagine the joy of your family or class participating in a virtual Story Time Show inclusive of children with complex learning needs… and with SUCCESS?!

I can! But… how did it all begin? Like this….

A little lady called Gwyn ran a little company called Positive Eye from a little village in the United Kingdom. Normally Gwyn delivered courses about children who are blind or low vision with complex learning needs, but suddenly COVID hit, and everything stopped. Gwyn decided she needed to do something to help.

From her big cupboard of sparkly things, Gwyn found her story character, Marvin. She wrote adventures for Marvin, a kind and helpful little boy who loves to meet new people and make new friends. Gwyn positioned these adventures within the model of a unique Story Time Show. Gwyn took her show and went LIVE on Facebook, performing more than 60 shows throughout the lockdown. From around the world families of children with complex learning needs discovered the show, and a wonderful community formed.

Then one day Gwyn suggested the idea of the Story Time Show for the families supported by her colleague Dr.

Donna Carpenter, Kentucky DeafBlind Project State Coordinator at the University of Kentucky.
Donna leapt at this idea! Over the last two years, the Story Time Show has been brought to hundreds of children and families whom the DeafBlind Projects within 22 states support.

The outcomes have quite literally surprised everyone. Let’s find out how this has happened.

Story Time Show Benefits?

  • To offer a story time that is inclusive of children with complex needs and their families
  • To build participation in stories at home.
  • To present stories the whole family can enjoy together
  • To empower parents to create their own Story Time Shows at home

What comprises a Story Time Show?

  • Each highly colorful, lively show starts with an engaging, rainbow wheel welcome to draw in the children.
  • High contrast, glittery cardboard characters enact Marvin’s adventures.
  • Children are encouraged to join in with the show’s catchy songs.
  • Highly energetic, enthusiastic storytelling, songs and funny voices all combine to maintain the children’s focus and attention.
  • Children respond warmly to Marvin’s mid-show chat. Gwynnie-Gwyn-Gwyn and Marvin wave and say hello, and the children love to interact with their friend.
  • A craft is made live on the show, linked to the chapter of Marvin’s adventure being told.

What are the key literacy elements which underpin the show?

A multi-sensory approach takes into consideration some of the key literacy access skills such as

  • Concept development
  • Fine motor skills
  • Tactile discrimination skills
  • Auditory and language development
  • Visual skills (Visual attention, tracking, scanning, etc.)
  • Book and story skills
  • Smell and taste
  • Model making
  • Imaginary play
  • Music, singing, rhythm

What are the outcomes for children?

Parents and educators have reported

  • Increased engagement
  • Increased attention
  • Increased concentration
  • Increased vocalization
  • More FUN!

Let’s find out what the parents say:

“My child is taking part in stories with greater concentration; she is now asking questions and is engaged. Story Time has helped her to start paying more attention to stories being read in class. She shows so much more interest in stories than she did before we started story time with you.”

“J loved this week’s craft and show. Miss Gwyn is so enthusiastic that our sweet girl lifted her head to watch. This takes a lot of work, so we know she must have enjoyed it!!! Can’t wait for next week!”

Then three weeks later, J’s mom shared…

“This girl loves her some Gwyn and Marvin!!!! Every time Gwyn comes on she looks right at the screen! What a blessing to have something that J reacts to on her own!!!! Big moves for this strong little girl!!!”

“He hasn’t let go of his Marvin doll, and he has been engaged in pretend play, clapping hands, and trying to make Marvin dance and walk. It’s been amazing to watch, especially as this was one of our long-term goals. Your story time adds so much to our home education program.”

“‘A’ truly reacts differently to the show. It grounds her as well. She was having a difficult time due to tooth pain; none of her norms were soothing here. So, I asked her if she wanted to watch Gwynnie-Gwyn-Gwyn’s Story Time Show. Her tears stopped and she became excited. The rainbow spin, that visual stimulation delivers every time!”

Finally, a parent of a typically developing child shares:
“I have a typically developing child who adores the show. But what makes it so incredibly special to me is the inclusion and visibility of differently-abled humans. They can be reached; they want to have fun and enjoy life just the same as the next person. Your show allows for that and proves [it doesn’t] need [to be] expensive to do so.”

Watch Five Episodes Here:

In summary….

The Story Time Show has made a huge difference to literacy at home for children with complex learning needs. It’s both strengthened the literacy outcomes for children and strengthened parents’ confidence to present stories to their children in a new and different way.