Monday, August 18, 2008

Activities for Read Alouds

Children enjoy read-alouds. I suggest you read to them as early and as often as possible. But don't forget that older children get a lot out of read-alouds as well so don't stop just because they can read for themselves. Here are some ideas you can use to making reading aloud fun:

1. Use musical instruments to create suspense, silliness, happy and sad sounds. This can bring your story to life as well as keep each child engaged. You can even have them make simple shakers with beans or rice inside a can of pringles and decorate. They can use it at different times. For example: shake the shaker when you hear the word ______. Or, shake the shaker when you hear a verb (noun, a word that starts with B, etc.). The possibilities are endless.

2. Teach part of speech or grammar with signs as you read. Discuss verbs or exclamation marks, etc.. Give out index cards so that each child can write either the word VERB (pronoun, nouns, etc.) or any grammatical mark. Each time you read a sentence with a verb (or other) or a grammatical mark, the child should raise the index card.

3. Create the atmosphere created in the book. For example, use cardboard to build a rocket if the book is about outer space. Tons of possibilities here with this one.

4. Have the children act out what you read. If the character walks to the store, they should be able to walk in place as they reach a door and open it and grab some groceries. This should be fun and can help on those days it's raining out and their energy levels are high. It's a good idea to give them boundaries for control. You could have them stay inside a hoop on the floor.

5. Use a prop bag to illustrate parts of the story. Collect items that pertain to the story, and display them when they are mentioned in the story. Let's say your reading, "MIss Spider's Tes Party." You could take out rubber bugs, a tea cup, silk flowers, or a hankerchief to dry Miss Spider's eyes. If your story is about bananas, pull some bananas out of the prop bag. It would be fun to eat them while they listen to the rest of the story.

6. Ask your child questions about the story. Reading comprehension is one of the hardest things to teach a child if it doesn't come naturally to him. In order to comprehend something, you must be paying attention to it. Help your child to develop his ability to comprehend stories by asking him questions either about what he thinks is about to happen or what has already happened. This develops critical thinking, which helps later in life in making major decisions. It teaches him how to survive in the world, once he is put out in it.

7. Do a fun activity after you finish the book that relalates to the book in some way.
For instance, if the book is about a tall person, make your own stilts using metal cans. Punch two holes on either side of each can, near the bottom. Measure a piece of rope so it is the appropriate length for children. Thread one end of the rope into each hole and secure with a knot. To walk on stilts, children stand on the cans, holding the rope in their hands. It's not easy, children will need practice! (Verify that the edge of the can is not sharp, add masking tape for extra protection.) If you read a book about lions or the circus, you can have your child jump through a hoop like a lion at the circus. This activity may be done indoors or outdoors. Add words of encouragement such as, "Come my beautiful lions!" Continue raising the hoop, then alternate between high and low.

Reading aloud to your child helps them to learn the correct way to read. By hearing you read the words on the page and sound them out, he learns that letters make words, and words make sentences, and sentences are how we communicate with each other. Communication is very important in how a person relates to the rest of the world. Reading aloud to your child encourages interpersonal communication, which is vital to a child's development.

Reading to your child on a regular basis will give them an appreciation and respect for reading. If reading is important to you, it will become important to your child. A bookcase full of a variety of great books should be available. The "Dr. Seuss" and "Dick and Jane" books are wonderful, because they are full of repetition. This will enable your child to learn sight words such as: it, at, on, in, the, etc. Learning sight words will help keep the frustration level down when they start to read books.

So, read aloud to your child, and I guarantee that not only will he benefit in phenomenal ways, but you will bond with your child in the process! Reading aloud calls for a lot more than just listening when you have just a little imagination. Have fun reading!

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