Before I had children, I had grandiose dreams for my motherhood: a squeaky clean house where art and play were always colliding; a disposition that never resembled stressed, impatient, or borderline psychotic, and idealist visions of read-aloud time including hours and hours of cuddling up on the couch together.
And then I had children. I didn't keep the house perfect. My demeanor never hit the Mary Poppins mark. And cuddling during read-aloud time? Two hiccups:
Child #1 didn't really cuddle.
Child #2 never stopped moving.
But I was not giving up my resolve to read to them.
So we compromised. I read. They listened. But they listened and did something.
I didn't need to keep my boys cooped up like little prisoners while I was reading aloud. Instead, they could eat, craft, build, create, play, and even move–and yes, they stayed engaged in the reading the entire time.
This list includes some of things my boys have done as read aloud activities while I read as well as some extra ideas. If you have children who are reluctant to the read-aloud, consider keeping a special reserve (for read aloud time only) on some of their favorites.
One way to insure a captive audience is to give them something to munch on while you read!
1. Eat a simple snack
2. Eat a story themed snack
this takes a little extra preparation, but it is so fun for the kids
3. Eat breakfast
4. Eat lunch
5. Drink hot chocolate or hot tea
6. Chew gum
don't underestimate the proprioceptive power of gum–especially for anxious children and sensory seeking children
You can model some of these for your students as you listen to an audio book together; mom doesn't always have to be the reader!
9. Make potholders with a loom
10. Make bracelets with a rainbow loom
11. Cross Stitch
Check out Clementine Patterns for some really sweet kits.
13. Knot Tying
14. Make jewelry (this yarn jewelry would be super quiet)
15. Whittle or carve (for an older student)
17. Construct something with popsicle sticks
18. Build with LEGO
19. Assemble a puzzle
20. Build with foam blocks
foam blocks are very, very quiet–even with they come tumbling down
21. Build with Kapla blocks
a huge hit with my kids, and they aren't super loud
22. Marshmallow & straw towers
Give your kids marshmallows and straws (or toothpicks for older students) and ask them to build a marshmallow tower!
23. Build a tent fort for your kids and climb inside for read aloud time
25. Friendship bracelets
26. Doodle with an Etch-a-Sketch
27. Pipe Cleaners
Give your kids a pile of pipe cleaners and let them bend, twist, and create while you read
Give your students markers, scissors, and construction paper; let them create the setting or a scene from the story
Fold paper and make origami (best for older students who can do this independently and quietly while you read)
30. Color with crayons and blank paper or a coloring book
31. Play with Play-doh at the table
32. Sculpt with Sculpey Clay
Create rubber band shapes with a Geoboard
34. Sketch the story
35. Draw on a Boogie Board
36. Create a Collage
Cut photos from a magazine and make a collage; you could make a random collage or a collage related to the read aloud
37. Contact paper craft
Your student could even create one of the story characters! A preschool student could simply have fun with sticking yarn to contact paper
38. Trace stencils
40. Wooden fidget
One of my kids' favorite fidgets; keep your hands busy with this colorful, wooden toy
41. Silly Putty
Keep your hands moving while strengthening muscles! You can even make your own version.
42. Exercise ball
Sit, balance, and bounce on an exercise ball
43. Thinking Putty
Stretch it. Sculpt it. Let it help you focus! One of our very favorite ways to keep our boys moving while sitting.
44. Tangle therapy
Twistable stress relief. Maybe mom should have one, too?
45. During an audio book, throw a soft ball back and forth
We love to listen to audio books in the car; a captive audience!
48. Sensory box play
Play in a simple sensory box made with sand, pompoms, feathers, packing peanuts, or another quiet filler
49. Record questions on a Boogie Board
Stop frequent interruptions by giving your student a board to record questions. Answer and discuss at the end of each chapter.
50. Snuggle with a pet
What would you add to this list of read aloud activities?
I would love to hear what works for you during your read aloud time!