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10 Creative Activities for Kids Who Can’t Sit Still

Creative activities for kids who have to fidget, move and stay active!

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 and many times, needed to have ‘something to do’ in addition to listening to the lesson. 

In the upper elementary and middle school classes, many of their teachers would read aloud while their kids were working on projects or homework.

Lots of parents worry about the fact that their kids just can’t sit still.


10 Activities for Kids who can't sit still -- instead of fidget spinners!

10 Creative Activites for Kids Who Fidget

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 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.

Lately, fidget spinners are the craze to keep kids ‘occupied’ but there are so many other creative activities they can do!

I mostly let our kids choose what they will do while listening to a book or even things they can bring to keep them busy when we eat out.  We’ve included a list of fun 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!


things for kids to do instead of fidget spinners

Coloring Pages

One of the most popular reading/quiet time activites that’s enjoyed by so many — most kids love to color!

You can:

  • grab a coloring book from home,

 fun things to do during reading time

Build Materials & Ideas

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 can even make your own tinker kit to keep them occupied.

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.


Stay Active

It’s always great to get kids outside for a while before you read but if your kids still have the wiggles once it’s time to settle down, let them continue to be active.

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 which are more controlled and quiet.  Kids Yoga Stories has a great example of kids yoga poses that pair nicely with various Eric Carle books.


things kids can do during storytime

Sketching or Drawing Activities

Older kids who aren’t crazy over coloring may enjoy sketching during a story. 

We have a nice, large 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 — kids will start to draw the story as you read.


Finger Weaving

Finger weaving or loom weaving are wonderful quiet activities that allow kids to keep moving!  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 let her class do finger weaving during her read aloud sessions and it was a great way to focus them on the book — plus, they were creating a wonderful group art project at the same time!

 activities to do during quiet time


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 while it keeps their hands busy.

If you want to use this idea in the classroom or with younger kids, try having plastic (non-sharp) needles available for them.


reading time activites for kids

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.


activities for kids to do during readinig time


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.


let the kids have fun during read alouds

Outdoor Play

Have you ever held storytime outside with your kids?  It’s one of our favorite things to do especially in the Summer and Fall!  And it’s easily done at home or with a class if you have an outdoor playground or indoor gym available to you.

While I prefer reading sessions in the hammock, the kids are more likely to gravitate to chalk drawings, water play or even swinging while I read.

You can also choose a fun story that encourages them to get active like these 10 Books that Inspire Kids to Move!



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 your kids 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!




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