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Activity and strategy

The Leaf Man Sensory Story

Ideas for sensory stories for Fall (Autumn) for students with significant multiple disabilities

This sensory story for Autumn was adapted from the popular children’s book “The Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert. It’s a perfect Autumn literacy lesson for students with profound and multiple learning difficulties. The story script comes complete with a list of suggested sensory props.

  • A sound recording of strong wind (you can download free wind sound effects at 
  • A BigMac communication device with cow sound effects.
    • Free cow sounds can be downloaded from
    • Cover the BigMac with material that represents a cow. I found a green car shammy in the dollar store which I thought felt and looked like grass — lovely and tactile for VI students.

  • A BigMac communication device with chicken sound effects.
    • Free chicken  sound effects can be downloaded from
    • Cover the BigMac with feathers to represent the feathers on the chickens. 
  • Compost
    • You can put this in a tray and add water, or you could put some compost and water in a sealable bag to squish if some of your students don’t like to get their hands dirty.
  • A water toy and a sound recording of a river
    • You can download a number of different sounds of water in the environment at

  • Switch adapted fan, a handheld fan, or a battery operated fan
  • Apple and pear puree
    • You can make your own or buy the small jars of baby food from the supermarket. If your students are not able to taste, use a little apple or pear flavored lip balm. You can purchase most flavors on
  • A big key, a bunch of keys, or your object of reference in school for home time. 
the cover of Leaf Man with leaves in the shape of a man
The Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Introduce the story by listening to the sound recording of the wind. 

Sensory StorySensory Prep
Leaf Man used to live near me, in a pile of leavesExplore the tray of leaves, scrunch, listen and feel.
but yesterday the wind blew Leaf Man away, he left no travel plans.Using a switch adapted fan, let the students activate the fan to feel the breeze for wind, watch and listen to the leaves blowing away.
The last time I saw him, he was heading east past the chickensSupport the student to activate the feather covered BigMac to hear the sound of the chickens.
towards the marshSupport the student to explore the wet, cold soil for the marsh.
Well Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blowsUsing the switch adapted fan, support the student to activate the fan.
Is he drifting west above the orchards?Smell and feel an apple, taste some apple puree. Smell and feel a pear, taste some pureed pear. 
Or past the spotted cows?Support the student to activate the BigMac to hear the sound of cow noises.
Maybe Leaf Man is flying along the river following butterflies going south.Listen to the sounds of the river/water recordings. Let the student feel the cold water.
When Leaf Man looks down on earth is he lonesome for a home?Object of reference for home (e.g., big key, bunch of keys). Leave a pause at the end of the sentence.
This I do know! Where a Leaf Man will land, only the wind knows.Listen to the sound of the wind recording. 

I have shortened the story a little to make it a more suitable length for the students that I work with.

Collage of sensory story for autumn
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Colored illustration of animals with alphabet letters A, B, C, D
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