Curriculum Sessions in the Experiential Learners Department

Pupils in the Experiential Learners department access a wide range of activities. The activities are used to promote intensive interactions and responsive communications relating to each child’s need.

The activities that will be on a timetable will vary throughout the school year; not every activity will be on the timetable at same time.

This information will help parents and carers understand our activities that promote engagement and positive learning environments.


“Sensology describes a functional, or practical, sensory education. It embraces the importance of the theory of early learning through sensory stimulation, sensory experiences and multisensory environments”.

The Sensology Workout – Waking Up the Senses. Flo Longhorn: 2007; 6

It is a flexible programme that can be individualised to suit different learning styles, and levels of ability and particular needs.

It covers the five senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste) but also the movement related sensory systems: the vestibular (balance and gravity) and the proprioceptive (body positions, body map and planning movements).

The aim of the session is to pep up the senses. This will involve building up a set of “pre-requisite to learning” skills including:

  • to look and attend,
  • control movements,
  • relate, to oneself, others and the world around,
  • communicate,
  • anticipate,
  • use a working memory, and
  • learn through pleasurable and exciting multisensory experiences

Sessions may vary in length and may be carried out as a group or in a 1:1 session. Variation allows the individual activities to be delivered at a personalised pace. It is vital that children are given time to respond. The time necessary to respond will vary relating to each child’s nuances for communication.

A session begins with a key piece of music and a smell that draws pupils in as a song of reference.

The senses are then focused on in turn. The session draws to a close with a final song of reference with bubbles and clapping.

Curriculum links to communication, cognition and personal, social and emotional development.

Tac Pac

Tac Pac is a sensory communication resource using touch and music; both are used in equal measure. Tac Pac helps people with sensory impairment, developmental delay, complex learning difficulties, tactile defensiveness, and limited or pre verbal levels of communication.

During these sessions, pupils work where possible with 1:1 with a familiar adult. The aim is that relationships are developed over time with trust being developed which will enable children to relax and the adult learn about the pupils’ communications and sensory responsiveness.

Tac Pac provides a safe and structured framework for the ‘receiving child’ to make contact with their own bodies, their environment and other people, and develop a relationship with these. The adult ensures that each tactile experience is well organised and sensitively offered, and adjusted to

suit the receiving partner’s responses.. There are several different packs which can be used.

Curriculum links to communication, cognition and personal, social and emotional development.

Dance massage

Dance massage uses music as its main focus. It combines the soothing, sensory experience of massage with the rhythm and energy of music. It benefits all children especially children with profound learning difficulties. It helps children relax and enjoy / experience various types of music, it enhances understanding that sound has meaning and offers a contrast with silence.

It is an interactive session that develops the relationship between the adult and the child. It offers opportunities for communication and intensive interaction. It is enjoyable for the person receiving the massage and the person giving the dance massage. It is great for enhancing and developing relationships with new/ less familiar staff.

Sessions may vary in length and may be carried out as a group or in a 1:1 session dependent upon the pupils taking part. It can be carried out with pupils positioned on the floor or sitting in their specialised seating / on a chair.

Curriculum links to communication, cognition and personal, social and emotional development and creative development

Rebound Therapy

1:1 sessions with rebound therapy are carried out on either the smaller grasshopper trampoline or the full sized trampoline.

Staff use the Winstrada scheme in conjunction with the Huddersfield Functional Index. This is useful for those pupils in our experiential learners department as they allow the pupils to demonstrate progression at the early stages of development.

Rebound offers the opportunity for communication alongside physical exercise. It has several benefits that include the development and improvement of:

  • Fun and enjoyment
  • Strength of limbs
  • Patience
  • Communication
  • Co-ordination
  • Independence
  • Self-confidence
  • Balance
  • Muscle tone
  • Reaction speed
  • Self-image
  • Eye contact
  • Relaxation
  • Freedom of movement
  • Sense of achievement
  • Stamina
  • Spatial awareness
  • Body awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Consideration of others
  • Trust and confidence in Coach/Assistant
  • Colour recognition
  • Height and depth perception
  • Numeracy

Children in the experiential learners department benefit from having stretching exercises carried out with the relaxing movement of a gentle bounce. Communication strategies are used including Intensive interaction; additionally it may include the use of symbols to request more or a different activity. All exercises are personalised to the individual child.

All staff working on the trampoline have all undergone rebound therapy training at Trainer level 2. Curriculum links to communication, physical and personal, social and emotional development.

Sensory Stories

Sensory stories are stories or poetry that are presented along with the use of concrete objects.

The use of concrete objects enables a story to be brought to life so that the experience does not rely on the spoken word. If rain is mentioned then a water spray and possibly a rain maker would be used to simulate rain or a fan for wind. An environment may be created with the use of materials e.g. a big tray of sand for a beach; visual aids of photos on the computer may also be used if appropriate. Sensory stories may also be read in different environments e.g. in the outdoor classroom in the willow dome. They may also include personal artefacts from home to create a link between home and school. In the experiential learners department our pupils are at the very early stages of communication development. Children often respond to the intonation of the adult’s voice, the visual aids, sounds or the texture of the objects and not the words that are being used.

Resonance Board sessions

There is an endless range and variety of skills and activities that can be carried out using a resonance board. These include communication, gross motor skills, fine motor manipulation, use of vision and hearing, tactile and visual search, turn-taking, anticipation, encouraging vocalizations and speech, cause and effect, rhythm, stories etc. The way the board is made means that any movement on its surface will produce amplified sound and vibration. It will vibrate to music or voices aimed at it even if the sound-maker is not in direct contact with the wood. The vibration that accompanies the sounds has an immense impact if the child is in direct contact with the board’s surface. This can be very motivating.

Resonance boards can be accessed in a range of ways; the boards can be positioned on a table and children can sit with their hands on them. Children can equally access the boards with the child on the floor standing or lying down.

Sounds can be enhanced by the use of additional materials, for example beads or chains draped over a child’s arm or leg. Use of beads under a hand allows a child with limited movement to move their hands more easily with support. Actions then begin to become more meaningful as the movement is supported e.g. a leg produces feedback by kicking the board. A child who makes few vocalisations may vocalise in response to the sounds and vibrations coming through the board. This is a great way to develop communication using the intensive interaction approach. 

Massage Stories

Story massage involves the use of easy to follow massage strokes associated with spoken words that help to build up an engaging story. They can be carried out at any time of the day and can be short or lengthened according to the time and the story. Stories can link to topics being focused on in school. A basic story will be put together with the adult embellishing the story dependent upon responses. Repetitive phrases to the strokes may be used.

The different strokes are made on to the child’s body. A massage story may be carried out when a child is seated in their wheelchair or when they are lying down on their back on the mats. Massage movements are made on different parts of their body e.g. on their legs or their upper body including arms.

Some of the benefits include relaxation of the mind and body, calm time, promotion of “feel good” hormones to boost general well-being, increased attention and concentration, a fun activity with shared attention and a different way of developing language. In addition massage / massage stories may be used to help focus on sensitivities to touch; staff are always mindful in responding to individual’s tolerances to these activities, pausing if showing signs of upset or hypersensitivity whilst still building up a greater tolerance to touch. In Hedgehog class Massage strokes are taken from the book Once upon a touch: Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper

Massage stories can also be actions linked to different music songs e.g. exploring their own body.

Delamere School Irlam Road Flixton M41 6AP
T: 0161 747 5893 E:
Ofsted Outstanding Provider
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