One of the challenges of teaching early elementary grades is teaching students to enjoy reading before they have the ability to read for themselves. Today we would like to suggest four fun classroom activities that promote reading for enjoyment AND reading for learning in early elementary classrooms.
- Create a story box. Cover a simple shoebox with contact paper, wrapping paper, or any decorative material you have on hand. Decorate it with pictures of children's books from catalogues, library advertisements, or book club fliers. Write the titles of several books on 3x5 cards and place them in the box. At the appropriate time, allow one student to draw a card out of the box, and then read that book to the children. A great teacher may create drama surrounding this little ritual by shaking the box, telling children you have added NEW titles to the box, announcing there are only THREE MORE titles left, etc.
- Read stories with repetitive phrases or stories that rhyme. Read the story twice, allowing children to finish the phrases for you. A great example is Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow. You read "Five little monkeys..." and they finish by saying "jumping on the bed!" Read the phrases with different inflections or volume levels and prompt them to imitate you!
- Read stories about the weather you are currently experiencing OR read about weather your students may have never experienced. Some great stories about weather are Hurricane by David Wiesner, The Mitten by Jan Brett, It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw, Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg, Thomas' Snowsuit by Robert Munsch, and White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt.
- Invite a guest reader into your classroom. Your guest reader may read their own favorite childhood book to the class or one of your choosing, and may wish to come dressed as one of the book's main characters. Before revealing the story to be read, children may be asked to guess what book character your guest reader is pretending to be.
As you continue to read to these pre-reading or early reading students, they will learn to listen, assimilate the use of language, learn new vocabulary, and understand more about the world in which they live. As a substitute teacher, what fun activities have you used in early elementary classrooms to promote reading?
--photo credit: Couth Buzzard Used Books - End of an Era - (license)