Read Aloud Activities for Elementary School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Reading aloud to your students is one of the best ways you can keep them engaged with literacy while also building community. The activities in this lesson can be used with elementary school students with any read aloud text.

Reading to Your Students

As an elementary school teacher, you understand the value of reading aloud. When you read to your students, they learn to love literacy and to build a community based around books and reading. Reading aloud to your students can also be a way to introduce students to texts they wouldn't find on their own and to model reading skills that are hard to teach in other ways.

If you want to increase read aloud time for your students, it's important to know how to incorporate reading aloud into your instruction. Some possibilities include:

  • Choosing books that hook into the content area material you are studying and integrating them into the lesson.
  • As you're reading aloud or selecting from the activities below, highlight the reading strategies your students are working on.
  • Drawing students' attention to the strategies of writers whose texts you are reading aloud as part of your writing instruction.
  • Incorporating critical thinking strategies into your discussions of read alouds.

When you read to your students, it can be helpful to have a repertoire of activities you can draw on to help maximize what they get out of the books you share. Here are some activities that can be modified to work with a wide variety of read aloud texts.

Visual Activities

Many of your students are probably visual learners, which means they learn well when they're allowed to work with art or organize new information graphically. This section offers activities suited to such learners.

Draw as You Listen

Some students will be able to focus best on what you're reading to them if you allow them to sketch as they read. Give your students paper, clipboards, and colored pencils. Ask them to listen to what you're reading and sketch their thoughts and feelings about the story as they listen. Then, ask students to share their sketches. It will be interesting for them to compare and contrast the different impressions they have of the story based on their artwork.

Portrait of a Character

This activity is a great one for students to do after a story is over. Ask each student to choose one character from a story who was especially meaningful to them. Then, have them make torn paper collages representing this character. They should rip construction paper into shapes they can glue onto a white page to represent the character's internal and external traits. Let your students talk about the text as they work, then hang their collages on a bulletin board in the classroom.

Concept Map

Whether you're reading fiction or nonfiction to your class, it's often the underlying concepts or themes that you really want your students to think about. Before reading a story aloud, write a key concept, like friendship or poverty, in the middle of a piece of chart paper. Circle it, and draw lines out from the circle. Ask students to share words they associate with this concept and write their ideas at the ends of the lines. Return to the concept map after reading the story, and ask students to add on new words to the map. Talk about how their ideas about the concept have developed as a result of the reading.

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