Our kids could never sit still during reading time. They would ask to build block towers, do headstands on the couch so they could see the book upside down or color while we read aloud. Even as they got older, there would always be something in their hands while they listened to a story.
School wasn't any different -- they (along with many of their peers) would only sit still for the first few pages of a book. In the upper elementary and middle school classes, many of their teachers would read aloud while the kids were working on projects or homework.
Lots of parents worry about the fact that their kids just can't sit still. But guess what -- this is totally NORMAL!
As a whole, our society asks that children sit still too much of the day. Kids are made to move -- and if you think about it, most of us as adults don't like sitting for long periods of time either ;)
So back to reading time -- how do you incorporate reading time with active kids?
I'm here to tell you that reading CAN be an active activity!
There's no reason that kids need to ONLY sit still while you read. In fact, most kids will have better comprehension of the story and are more likely to WANT to read if they enjoy reading sessions.
Since so many teachers ask families to practice reading with their kids at home (super important to do by the way!) and family read aloud sessions are also very popular, I wanted to share 10 fun activities that kids can do during reading times!
10 Things for Kids to Do during Reading Time
Kids of all ages will enjoy these hands-on activities while they listen to a read aloud or audio book. I mostly let the kids choose what they will do while listening to a book. Sometimes it's something active; other times is a quiet activity.
We've included a list of fun reading activies that still keep kids involved in the story but busy with something to do. I've also included affiliate links for items we enjoy and links to some awesome examples of storytime fun!
Here are a few of our favorite Read Aloud activities:
One of the most popular reading time activites that's enjoyed by so many --kids love to color!
grab a coloring book from home,
and even use coloring pages for older kids (these mermaid coloring pages can be found over at Red Ted Art) that can be worked on over multiple reading sessions.
When my daughter would come home from preschool, one of her favorite activities was to build block towers and roads while I read a book.
Blocks, legos, stacking cups or tinker toys will keep kids busy but engaged in the story. You'll probably find that kids will build a little, then come to look at a few pictures before they go off to build more.
If the kids have the wiggles, let them be active during your reading session. Headstands next to you on the couch may seem odd but might work for your kids like it did for us (I think there's something about the blood rushing to their head that gets them thinking about the book ;)
Other options include yoga stretches or poses! Kids Yoga Stories has a great example of kids yoga poses that pair nicely with various Eric Carle books.
Sketching or Drawing
Older kids who aren't crazy over coloring may enjoy sketching during a story. We have a sketch pad and colored pencils close by in case the mood strikes! And I've learned that descriptive books can often encourage this type of activity.
Finger weaving or loom weaving is a wonderful storytime activity! It's similiar to knitting for adults -- heck, if knitting is something your kids like, that would be a great thing to do to!
My son's 4th grade teacher had the kids do finger weaving during her read aloud sessions and it was a great way to focus the class on the book!
This is the latest craze at our house during reading sessions -- creative needlework. Similiar to weaving, cross stitching or designing your own needlework picture allows kids to both look and listen to the story while you read.
Small, quiet toys
Small cars, stuffed animals and other toys that don't make noise are a great option for younger kids.
We are big fans of the Safari Ltd. TOOBS! They have animal figures like this Penguins TOOB and fun mini-items in their Around The World TOOB which is perfect if you're reading books about geography or with settings in other countries.
You can also create a reading bag with toys that relate to the story you've chosen if you're looking for themed play ideas. Stir the Wonder has an adorable example of pairing small toys with stories featuring the popular book Big Red Barn Big Red Barn.
Another wonderful way to practice fine motor skills during reading time.
I love this Story Threading activity from Growing Book by Book! It helps kids to keep their hands busy and can provide a visual connection to the book.
Have you ever held storytime outside with the kids? It's one of our favorite things to do especially in the Summer and Fall! While I prefer read sessions in the hammock, the kids are more likely to gravitate to chalk drawings, water play or even swinging while I read.
Creative writing activities are always a fun way for kids to be 'actively' listening to a book. The key here is not to 'push' formal writing -- let them write as little or as much as they'd like during the story. Kids might choose to create a poem, write down odd words they hear in the story or create a tale of their own!
And of course, one of our favorite reading time activities is always having a snack!
You can easily incorporate reading during meal times too -- visit our 10 Books to Read with Breakfast for some great titles!
Do your kids enjoy doing something while they listen to a book?
MORE FUN BOOK ACTIVITIES: