Many of us find ourselves home with our kids even more than usual due to the COVID-19 situation. With libraries closed, co-op classes on hold, and friends and family kept at a distance, you may feel like you don’t have enough books and resources to really be able to teach language arts. If that’s you, here are 9 ideas to make this easier and more enjoyable, even for Mom and Dad!
1. Make a Cozy Reading Space
Every good book sets the scene for the adventure ahead. Your kids can do the same by creating a storybook fort or reader’s corner. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you please, but making a cozy place with pillows, blankets, and a few favorite things (maybe even twinkle lights) can really heighten your children’s experience of reading and begin to tickle their imaginations.
2. Hold a Teddy Bear Story Hour
Little ones, and even not so little ones, love to gather their stuffed animal friends and set them up to enjoy a story with them. Pre-readers can even take a turn reading to their stuffed friends by making up a story that goes along with the pictures. Your littles will love being entrusted with the teacher’s pointer (a.k.a. wooden spoon) to help call on participants for involvement.
3. Try Five in a Row
With the Five in a Row approach, you read the same story every day for five days in a row, but each day you highlight a different aspect of the story. For example, one day you might talk about any words that are unfamiliar and look up their definitions. Another day you might talk about the artwork in the book and perhaps even try your hand at making a picture using the same artistic techniques. The next day you might emphasize the setting, talking about the geography or history related to where and when your story takes place. Maybe there are math lessons to be learned from your book of choice or science topics you can discuss such as the changing of seasons or the weather. This is a great opportunity to talk about what makes a book worth reading over and over again.
Not sure which book to choose? Some of our favorite Five in a Row reads have been How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World and Ox-Cart Man. Any of the titles in our 10 Favorite Picture Books for Fall would also make great candidates for Five in a Row reading.
4. Host a Poetry Teatime
Gather up all your poetry or nursery rhyme books, prepare a yummy treat and whatever tea you fancy, and sit down for an enjoyable time of reading poetry together. Outside for a picnic, or inside by a warm fire, it doesn’t matter. Everyone gets a turn to read a poem to the group or to pick out a poem to be read.
If you don’t have a book of children’s poetry, you can search YouTube for poems read aloud. As you consider adding a few volumes of poetry to your collection, here are a few titles we’ve enjoyed.
- The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky
- Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
- A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Hailstones & Halibut Bones: Adventures in Poetry and Color by Mary O’Neill
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Once you’ve held a few poetry teatimes, try your hand at composing your own poems if you like. They can be serious or silly, rhyming or not, short or long. Just have fun with it.
5. Write a Sequel
Do you have a favorite book that you have read recently? Talk about what a sequel might look like. How would the adventure continue?
Perhaps there wouldn’t be a sequel, but perhaps another book in the series. We loved the book Ferdinand. Maybe you can think of another animal like a lion or an ant who might face a similar dilemma. Write about their story.
6. Listen to an Audiobook
Audiobooks have become a go-to resource for me as I began to juggle multiple students at various reading levels. Librivox is a free audiobook resources and a great place to find classics. There are many audiobooks available on YouTube as well. In addition, check the resources available on your local library’s website. You may be able to borrow audiobooks for a fixed amount of time and download them directly onto your device.
7. Read the Book, Then Watch the Movie
One of our favorite activities is to read a book together and then watch the movie as a family. My children are always eager to discuss what they liked and didn’t like about the movie compared to the book. It’s a great way to practice the skill of comparing and contrasting.
8. Put on a Reader’s Theater
Many kids will welcome the opportunity to bring to life what they are reading through a dramatic performance. It can be as elaborate as a multi-part play that the children plan and rehearse over several days and weeks or as simple as a child getting up and reading a favorite passage. Assembling costumes and props, memorizing lines, directing and working together as a team provide many excellent learning opportunities.
9. Explore the Bible as Literature
Whether you have a whole library of books in your house or just a few, you likely have a Bible. And if you have the Bible, you have a wonderful resource for literature, poetry, history and so much more. It’s really all you need!
Sharing books is a great way of bonding together as a family and creating shared memories. Stories become part of a family culture and strengthen emotional connections. During these days when things seem unfamiliar and unsettling, it can be comforting to gather together and enjoy a good book.
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