Did you know it's actually okay not to require your children to "sit still and pay attention" during read aloud time?
My children have always loved to be read to, but after a few minutes they tended to get "the wigglies" when they were very young, especially if I was reading a chapter book to them instead of a picture book.
I learned to work with "the wigglies" instead of against them. Rather than requiring the kids to sit beside me with their hands in their laps, I let them play quietly on the floor.
There were two rules:
- They had to be in the same room with me.
- They could not talk to each other. Not even whisper because whispering meant they weren't listening. They were, of course, allowed to interrupt the reading to ask questions related to the book.
Attentive Listening Even When They Were in Motion
I was amazed at how much more they seemed to get out of the reading when their hands were busy. I did try to encourage an activity that went along with what we were reading, when possible, but more often than not they would find something of their own choosing.
Here's a list of the kinds of things my kids did or played with during read-aloud time over the years.
- coloring—sometimes I found coloring sheets to go along with what we were learning about
- drawing—again, could tie in with the topic
- LEGO—even this could sometimes tie in... One of our favorite projects was building an Egyptian pyramid with Legos.
- other construction-type toys—K'nex, Lincoln Logs, etc.
- play dough
- jigsaw puzzles—historical scenes when possible
- small toys—Matchbox cars, doll-house people
- kid-friendly craft projects—friendship bracelets, beads, scrapbooking
- handiwork—as the girls have gotten older they enjoy crocheting, knitting, and embroidery
- solitaire (with a deck of cards) or other single-player games
- handwriting practice
What do your kids like to do during read aloud time to keep their hands busy while they listen? Can you add to my list?