Make reading fun for kids who don’t seem interested and add another layer of interest to your story time, with these play along ideas and tips.
Reading with children is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn new sounds, words and language, to learn about the world and develop social skills, but more than this it can be a time that allows both grown ups and little ones to connect and work together to make a story come to life.
My eldest loves making a little den or special cosy area where we can sit and read but it’s rarely anything fancy and usually just consists of some cushions on the floor or a blanket pegged to some chairs. Sometimes she tells me that it’s a rocket or that we’re having a picnic in the woods, if this happens I usually take the hint and grab a related book and go with it. It’s amazing how their imaginations are alive with ideas and it’s good to be guided by their interest.
The power of props
Once the story has been decided we quickly gather some items that might help us bring the tale to life. This varies even for the same story, so sometimes for a story like The Gruffalo we use our pop-out play set where we can actually hold each character and act things out, but other times I might grab some sticks, leaves, acorns and other items we’ve foraged, so that we talk more about the setting of the story.
Share the story
Giving everyone something to do or a character to play can really take things in a different direction, what a great chance for your little one to create their own unique stories. This can work a lot better with older children, but even younger ones can have a part to play, we sometimes give our littlest girl an instrument to bash at a certain point in the story, just be sure not to hand it out too soon.
I’m sure very few of us have the time or enthusiasm to be setting up elaborate scenes, but there are lots of really quick and simple things you can put together beforehand that might bring more excitement to the story. One that went down a treat recently was when I put some cocoa powder and water in a ziplock bag, both the girls had fun squishing and squelching the ‘mud’ in the bag, as we read ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’.
We’ve also made characters from a story, by printing and drawing them on paper, then attaching them to pegs. You can also drawing and decorate wooden spoons, they’re great at popping up from behind a book.
Stories and prop ideas
Here are a list of some of our favourite stories and the bits and pieces we often put with them.
Three Little Pigs
- 3 x Pigs (Lanka Kade figures are ideal for this)
- Wood wool packaging
- Twigs from the garden
- Lego or other blocks
- Homemade ginger scented play dough
- Gingerbread cutters
- Other toy or real baking accessories – to pretend that we’re creating our own cheeky gingerbread men
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Bowl and spoon – to pretend scooping up the porridge
- Cushions – to act as chairs that we try out
- Blanket – to pretend we’re tucked up in bed
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Fruit and other snacks – to munch through just like a hungry caterpillar
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
- Shredded green paper – for the swishy swashy grass
- A cone of paper – for making a convincing hooo wooo snow storm
- Cocoa Powder and water in a ziplock bag – mess free squelchy mud
- Small dish of water – for relatively small splish splashing
- Nesting Bear – a little abstract but we pretend his body is the cave