Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All of the products mentioned here were purchased with our own money.
It’s no secret that reading aloud to kids has been recognized as the single most important activity that leads to literacy acquisition. Now, reading aloud may seem simple, especially if the children you’re reading to are infants and aren’t as mobile or easily distracted as some older kids. I’ve learned from reading with my own children and reading in front of various groups of kids that it’s not always so easy to keep them engaged.
Having a memorable story time experience sometimes requires you to be able to catch – and hold –a child’s attention from start to finish. This includes everything from ensuring you choose meaningful books with intention (before story time even begins) to any possible extension/craft activities you may do after the story is over.
Below I’ve shared four different ways I like to enhance story time at home with my own children. But before we jump right into those, let me also share a few other things I like to keep in mind prior to reading books with my kids. Note: I DO NOT always have time to do all of these things because sometimes life gets in the way. Am I right? However, if I have time to prepare ahead then I will follow these steps.
1. Select a small pile of books to read for story time. If it’s a book we’ve never read with them before I’ll write a brief and catchy 1-2 sentence introduction to let the kids know (briefly) what the book is about. Of course, doing this requires you to read or skim it beforehand.
2. Write a brief list of open-ended questions I may want to ask the kids as follow-up questions once the story is over. See my first enhancement tip (reading comprehension cubes) below for a simple way to do this if you can’t think of any questions on your own.
3. Have an extension/craft activity ready for the kids to do together after the story is over. I usually choose simple activities that relate to the book(s) in some way.
Here are the four ways I enhance story time when reading aloud with my kids:
1. Reading Comprehension Cubes by Learning Resources
We’ve had these story time cubes for a while now and they are always a hit with my kids! They really help us have a deeper discussion about the story afterwards. These cubes offer a total of 3 dozen different questions to test, challenge, and enhance your kids’ comprehension of the books they read.
Simple roll the red cubes for questions before reading. Toss the blue cubes for questions about the story in progress. Roll the green cubes for questions after reading.
These mindfulness cards are so fun for doing things like “shaking out the sillies” before story time or taking a few deep breaths afterwards.
This boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness and relax.
I’ve mentioned these cards before on the blog, (click here to read) but they are worth mentioned again.
Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards. These cards are my “secret weapon” I use when I want an alternative to reading books and they are perfect for honing my storytelling skills. Recommended for ages 3 and up, the deck of 36 beautifully illustrated cards assist children in creating their own stories.
An endless number of stories are possible by placing any number of the cards in any order. Short stories, long stories, kids create a new story every time they shuffle the deck. The whole family can make a game out of the cards, by taking turns picking cards and telling a story together. Parents, grandparents and teachers will find the cards useful as an aid in their own storytelling.
To use the cards, you simply lay as many as you want out in front of you in an order that tells your story.
4. Use educational flashcards like ABC Me Flashcards (or another set of flashcards you enjoy).
Designed to be used in a myriad of ways, ABC Me Flashcards are illustrated in vibrant colors with easy to understand wording on the back. They begin with the alphabet but A isn’t for apple. This time, A is for Africa. And so from A to Z or from Africa to Zora Neal Hurston, younger children can learn their ABC’s and older children can use the same cards to learn about their history.
I like to pair these with non-fiction picture or early chapter books when reading aloud with the kids. They help make a connection with the person or event we’re reading about in a fun way.
These are just a few examples of how you can keep your young audience engaged during story time. I hope you find these tips helpful to help get you started and to put your best foot forward if you want to enhance story time.
Your turn: What other tips would you add to this list? How do you enhance story time with kids? Feel free to share in the comments.