If there’s one thing most parents agree on, it’s that reading aloud to kids is one of the best ways to help them learn. Not only does it improve their literacy skills, but it also helps foster a love of books and stories.
But if you’ve found yourself struggling to make read alouds enjoyable for your little ones, don’t worry—you’re not alone! To help you out, we’ve compiled 12 secrets to making read alouds more enjoyable for kids. From choosing the right book to emphasizing key words in the text, these tips will help ensure that your read aloud sessions are fun and educational.
I love to keep these ideas handy to use while reading our history lessons or other material that the kids might be struggling to sit through. It's a whole lot better than having them jump off the walls.
Secret 1: The Mini Trampoline
If you've ever done a search for "read alouds for kids" on Pinterest, you've probably seen the recommendation to use a mini trampoline. And while it may seem like a silly idea, there is some science to back it up!
When children are bouncing on a mini trampoline while listening to a read aloud, they are using what is called vestibular input, which in turn increases their overall alertness. This helps them stay focused and engaged with the story. It also provides a much-needed outlet for all that extra energy!
Secret 2: Painting
When your child is painting a scene, they are still listening to what is going on around them. In the instance of a read-aloud, they will be able to listen more attentively and will not get distracted from boredom.
It's also stimulating areas of their brains that help them focus.
Secret 3: Playdough
When it comes to reading aloud, incorporating some playtime can make the experience more enjoyable for kids. After all, who doesn't love playing with playdough? Not only is it fun, but it can also help kids focus and pay attention to the story.
So next time you're planning a read aloud, consider adding in some playtime with playdough. It's sure to be a hit with the kids!
Tip: Have them create something from something they are learning from the read aloud. History, for example, is a good time to imagine what the pyramids looked like or how the pioneers crossed the American West.
Tip: Recipe For Homemade Playdough
Secret 4: Drawing
Adding some kind of drawing or interactive activity to a read-aloud can make the experience a lot more fun for kids. Not only will they be more engaged with the story, but they’ll also have a keepsake to look back on.
If you’re not an artist yourself, don’t worry—there are plenty of easy drawings that even the most novice artist can do. And if you need some inspiration, there are tons of great how-to-draw books out there.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• Have kids draw a picture of their favorite part of the story.
• Ask them to illustrate a scene that they found particularly funny or exciting.
• At the end of the story, have them draw a picture of what they think will happen next.
Secret 5: Crafting
Making otherwise dry read alouds fun for kids means you need to get crafty! Crafting can be a great way to combine learning with fun, and it can be done in a variety of ways. There are so many ways to do this!
One way is to create a scene from the book using paper dolls or other small toys. This will bring the story to life and help kids understand what is happening. You can also have them make their own puppets to use during the story.
Another great way to incorporate crafts into your read aloud is to make a book together. This can be done before or after reading the book. Simply gather some supplies and let the kids be creative! They will love seeing their own creation come to life.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to making read alouds more crafty for kids.
Secret 6: Special Snacks
Try incorporating some special snacks into the read aloud experience. This can be anything from their favorite candy to a special treat that you only bring out during read alouds. The key is to make it something that they'll look forward to and associate with the positive experience of reading together.
If you don't want to use food as a reward, that's totally fine, too. Maybe there's a toy or activity that your child loves and only gets to enjoy during read alouds. Whatever it is, make sure it's something they'll get excited about so that they start to associate reading time with happiness and anticipation.
Secret 7: Build a Fort
One of the best ways to make read alouds more exciting for kids is to create a fort. This can be done with a few blankets and some chairs. Simply drape the blankets over the chairs, and voilà! You have your very own reading fort. Not only will this make read alouds more cozy, but it will also create a sense of anticipation and excitement for the story.
Secret 8: Stickers
Stickers are an excellent way to keep children focused! They can be used to reward kids for listening, or just to add a little bit of fun to the experience. Here are some tips for using stickers in read alouds:
- Place stickers on the cover of the book before beginning. This will help kids know that there is something special waiting for them at the end of the story.
- Give each child a sticker after they listen to a page or two. This will help them stay engaged and motivated to keep listening.
- Use different colored stickers to represent different characters in the story. This can help kids follow along and visualize the story better.
- Put stickers on index cards and use them as bookmarks. Kids can then use these bookmarks to keep track of their place in the story.
- At the end of the story, let kids choose a few stickers to keep. This will help them remember the story and may even inspire them to read it again on their own!
Secret 9: Scissors Practice
Giving children the opportunity to practice cutting with scissors is important for several reasons. First, it helps them develop their fine motor skills. Second, it allows them to experience a sense of accomplishment as they see the paper cut into pieces. Finally, it provides a creative outlet for them to express their individuality.
You can ask them to create a scene on paper with bits of paper they have cut. Alternatively, print out outline images of things from your read-aloud ahead of time.
When allowing children to use scissors, be sure to supervise them closely. Start by having them cut along straight lines before moving on to more complex shapes.
Secret 10: Lay down
Having a "lay down" is one of the most important secrets to making read alouds more fun for kids. When you are reading a story, have your child lie down on their back so they can really focus on the book and the words. This way, they won't be distracted by anything else going on around them.
Secret 11: Popsicles
Popsicles are a great way to make read alouds more enjoyable for kids. They can help children stay focused and engaged, and they’re a fun summertime treat. We like to take them outside because they can get really sticky! Also, reading outside is a great way to allow a bit more fresh air into your day.
Secret 12: Kinetic Sand
Kinetic sand is a fun way to make read alouds engaging. It is a type of sand that moves and flows like liquid, but it is dry and doesn't make a mess. Kids can use their hands to create shapes and structures with kinetic sand, which makes it a great way to keep them engaged during read alouds.
Have them try to construct something from the story or lesson. Or just let them pinch and play while you read.
Letting Students Move While Reading Aloud
We've all been there, whether you're a teacher in a classroom or a homeschooling mom. Even the calmest kids can get restless when a boring lesson or story is read. I hope that the 12 "secret" ideas I have provided here help you with your students.
Letting your child move in constructive ways while reading not only reduces your overall stress-no more bouncing off the walls—but it also helps children focus on what is being read. Further moving is just good for you overall, so why force children to sit perfectly still and demand their attention? Let them move and be creative!
What do you think? Is it better to let students sit quietly or let them move around? How do you allow your child to be active while still listening?