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Keeping Little Hands {and Big Hands!} Busy During Read-Alouds


I am a HUGE advocate of reading aloud to your children.  I have posted often about this topic.  

Many days go by where our biggest accomplishment is reading aloud.    

That's OK with me.   

I know that if my husband and I raise readers and seekers of knowledge we will be equipping them to be life long learners.   If my children experience the great joys of learning alongside their parents they will pass this along to their children.   

Reading aloud to your children will
 last for GENERATIONS!  

I know, however, that sometimes reading aloud falls into "last place" in some homeschools.  There are math workbooks to complete, grammar lessons to finish, and spelling words to learn.

I've also heard moms say that it just takes too much TIME to read aloud, and why should they read aloud when their children are independent readers?  

This makes me sad.

I love learning WITH my children! I am modeling good reading when I read aloud.

I have witnessed my children's vocabularies SOAR because of read-alouds.  They have a frame of reference for SO MANY things in history, science, and life in general.   They are turning into wonderful writers (I'm not trying to brag -- well, yes I am - brag about the benefits of reading aloud!) and speakers because of the examples they hear in GOOD BOOKS.

The biggest question I get is this:   "How do your children listen for so long when you read aloud?"   I'm going to try to answer that question today.

Five Ways to Keep Little Hands {and Big Hands!} 
Busy During Read-Alouds

Geometric Coloring

1.  Make the environment cozy.  We have two big fleece throws in our family room and lots of comfy pillows.   Everyone now has their own SPOT for when I read aloud!  I have a good light for me and have a couple of "mood lights" to relax everyone else. 

2.  Coordinate read-aloud time with snack or meal time.   A huge bowl of grapes or other healthy snack keeps little ones busy and quiet!   My daughter (who is 10) loves to make herself a cup of tea.   Many times I will also read-aloud at lunch time - I have a captive audience for 15-20 minutes; why not capitalize on that? 

Viking Mask

3.  Give those little hands something to do.   Here are some of our favorites:

Coloring (check out these COOL geometric coloring sheets we've been using!)
Crafts - my kids made Viking Masks while I was reading aloud to them about The Vikings.  

4. Keep notebooks for your children to work in while you read.  We use Story of The World for history and my children keep a notebook.   We just finished learning about Charlemagne.   I challenged my kids to draw something pertaining to the story while we read and then we added it to their notebook.  You can also search for free notebooking pages for whatever subject you are working on.   

5.  Choose interesting and fun read-alouds and BE ANIMATED while you read them.  I learn about read-alouds from blogs (Amy @ Hope is the Word is my #1 resource) and just talking to other moms in our co-op.    I also love Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson and Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook.  I try to choose books based on the period of history we are studying, or just based on interest. My daughter has listened to many baseball greats read-alouds, and my son has listened (with great interest) to Caddie Woodlawn.   I love that they share each other's passion for certain subjects!  

I am always on the lookout for good books at used book sales.   I have one bookshelf downstairs that is full of treasuries and books that we want to read-aloud. Notice the Childhood of Famous Americans Walt Disney book -- we are reading this now... and my kids have NO IDEA they will be going to Disney World in three weeks!  

There are SO MANY POSSIBILITIES with reading aloud.  I am so thankful we embrace this lifestyle of reading.  I will miss reading aloud to children when my have grown and left the nest!

Do you have any read-aloud tips you'd like to share?

Linking today with Amy... click her button to see what others are reading aloud this week!  


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Reader Comments (18)

This is such a great post! Thanks for sharing some of your tips! We, too, are a family of mealtime readers. :) if the lunch table settin doesn't include our current book, I can bet that my 3 year old will show up with an armful of his own!

I do really need to read to my kids more. You encourage that, thank you!.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel E.

These are wonderful tips! My oldest child lives with his nose in a book. My younger twins love books, but they are FIDGITY at reading time!! I'm going to try some of your ideas and see what happens. Thanks!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Wonders' Days

Great post, Mary! My girls listen well without doing anything else, but these are great hints for learners who need to do as well as listen. My biggest problem would be making the area so cozy that I go to sleep! ;-)

WDW in 3weeks, huh? That's exciting! We went back in Sept. and had a wonderful time! I can't wait to go back! We talk about it often.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy @ Hope Is the Word

Mary, these are great tips. We usually center in around meals and snacks or coloring pages, but I think I need to branch out a bit with our read aloud times. I have this cozy livingroom curl up reading time in my head, but have yet to really get that fleshed out with all the children present. I like the lego, blocks, puzzles idea. These would be perfect for my boys!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDorie

Great post! I used to fall under the category of "my kids are independent readers, I don't need to read aloud anymore." But we soon discovered the error of that thought process! ;) You've mentioned all the things we generally do to keep hands busy and the place comfy. We do a lot of read alouds because, as you have mentioned before, there is something very healing and therapeutic about reading aloud to your kids. :)

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMamaTea

I love the "excuse" of having to nurse the baby...we often read outloud while I am sitting on the couch anyway to feed the baby (but if no one wants to listen at a given moment, such as now when the boys are busy playing pirates and Miss M is in the middle of some independent school work), then I can read blogs. Lucky me!).

I can never seem to make it work to read during a meal or snack time...More often than not over the past few years I have been either nursing or pregnant and I am SO HUNGRY all the time that I am eating when the kids are eating...and they inhale their food, leaving me at the table still eating long after they are gone...LOL!

I read aloud to my children a ton. Always have. One place I like to read aloud is in the car while my husband drives. I know this makes some people sick and isn't an option. Like you, I used to read at meal time because it's a great opportunity. But my older two asked me to not read at every lunch because sometimes they just like to have family talk time instead. So, if we're going to be out during the day and not have as much time for regular read aloud times, then I'll read during lunch to get a little more in. But on days when we're home the whole day, I don't read at lunch.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrandy

Great post! My kids are good listeners and I haven't had much of an issue with attention but we also do some of the things you mentioned like read at lunch or teatime. I think some of it is also practice. It's sort of a skill and once they are used to it they find it easier to do. For some reason, mine also think getting to read on my bed is such a treat that they will listen to just about anything.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralice@Supratentorial

What a wonderful inspirational post! I really struggle with getting a read aloud in, but we have slowly been getting more in. It may include staying up later, but for us it works.
Thanks for the encouragement!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

What a great post Mary. I know how much you love to read aloud to your kiddos. I do too! We have always done that. Great suggestions.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Great post! We read outloud every day...several times a day! Love it and know that I will read to the kids until they move out and then my grandkids!



March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermelismama

They don't know? Well, I hope they don't read your blog!

I agree about reading outloud. I enjoy it so much. Sharing books is a treasure of parenting.

Another tip -- slow down. I sometimes find myself speaking very quickly. I have to remind myself to savor the words.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJimmie

Great tips. Blocks and cars are favs here. And cuddling too :)

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda @ The Pelsers

Amazing ideas for fostering learning and reading! Thanks for sharing!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBooks4Learning

I read that same Walt Disney book as my boys were held captive on our first trip to Disney World. Stuck in a car for a day and a half? Mama's gonna read.

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucisMomma

Reading time is the best time in our school. We love it!

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha Kelley

Thanks for the link to the coloring page. My budding artist is very excited to try it tomorrow; she wanted to sleep with the page we printed out! : ) I convinced her it would get ruined and it should stay on the school room table. And I told her I would be reading her a book while she colored it.
I, too, utilize lunchtime for reading books. Otherwise, my biggest challenge is keeping the 2 year old occupied/quiet. Maybe I'll try making the Legos or something just for reading time...

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaime

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