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Wiggles & Read-Alouds

In the years we’ve been homeschooling I’ve come to cherish the times I spend reading aloud with my children. The opportunity to share my love of books and stories and written words while (hopefully) instilling an appreciation of these things in their lives is a priceless gift in my eyes.

The logistics, however, of how to actually conduct a successful read-aloud session have seen an ongoing evolution of change in my house. Starting out, I issued strict “Criss-Cross-Applesause” and “hands-in-your-lap” orders. I tried clearing away any toy, sound, pencil, paper, food, drink, eraser, lint, trash, etc. that could (and would) prove a distraction to them but I can’t take away fingers and belt loops and carpet fibers and shirts and noses and they still managed to successfully avoid paying attention to a single word I said.

It didn’t take long to accept I have young boys and they’re the kind of boys that find sitting quietly in one place for longer than two minutes a torturous experience. It was obvious I was not going to get the kind of read aloud time with them I desired if I wasn’t creative in how I approached it!

I tried letting them play Legos, but Legos command the full attention of imaginative boys.

I offered coloring books chosen from the sheer mass of activity books we’ve acquired over the years but they never did hold their attention long enough to get any real reading done.

Puzzles held promise but inevitably sparked debate on how to best accomplish them, arguments about who would do what parts and complaints about someone doing too many pieces.


I was about to throw in the towel on the whole idea when I was introduced to the perfect blend of activity and stillness, busyness and concentration. The formula that would give this mom the time she so craved while abolishing groans and grimaces from the littles each time we sat down to read aloud. The intricately detailed Bellerophon Coloring Books and the beautifully done Dover Coloring Books were a real Godsend to me!

We only pull these babies out during read aloud time which means they are actually thrilled when it comes up! They pick their picture out ahead of time, use the nice colored pencils, and I ask them to color things the way the picture would likely be colored in reality. There’s usually a guide on the inside covers of the books that provides a great reference. I also encourage them to take their time and stay within the lines. It encourages them to pay attention to detail along with giving us enough time to get through a chunk of reading.

They stay quiet, enjoy coloring their pictures, are proud of their finished work and still absorb much of what I’m reading. It’s been the perfect combination for us!

For those of you that have made read-aloud time a priority in your homeschool, how do you best encourage your kids to take in and enjoy what you’re reading? Do you do all the reading or do you rotate family members? Have you have any ‘Ah-Ha’ moments where an idea really clicked with your family? I’d love to hear about it!

However you do it, whatever it looks like in your home, I hope you don’t underestimate the gift you are giving to your children by allowing them the opportunity to take on a love of reading!!

Praying for the best of weeks for all you Hip Homeschool Moms!

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  1. That’s a great idea! I usually read with my boys before my youngest takes his nap and before bedtime. A time during our day when it’s quiet and still. At 5 and 3 it works 85% of the time. My 3 year old usually starts singing some random song in the middle of me reading. We’re still working on it though!

  2. Wow, I’ve learned to LOVE it when my daughter is wriggling. That’s how I know she’s really learning.

    I can observe her watching a DVD – when she’s just tired and zoning out, she sits still, slumped on the sofa. When she’s engaged and learning, she’s doing all kinds of wacky acrobatics on the couch. Headstands, backbends, all kinds of contortionism.
    Kinesthetic learners are like that – they just have to move their bodies for the information to really sink in.
    I can’t imagine trying to get my kid to sit still while her brain is really engaged; it would just stifle her entirely.

  3. I have a 9,5,3 year olds. I do lots of reading aloud, novels, history, science, seemingly to be what I read aloud most When I am reading the novels my rule is they can do what ever they want as long as it is quite and in the same room, my oldest has learned that I will ask questions, so zheI pays attention. For the history we have Dover coloring books to color while I am reading. We us apologia for our science and I keep the journals out so that the oldest two can work as we go. We read kid books also for everybody. I never read at bed time, that is time for me to read to myself! I love the Dover coloring books! I have found that they keep my kids attention far better than a regular coloring book. I would love to see Dover to make coloring books that go along with classical novels and great novels it would be great for The Chronicles of Narnia!

    1. It WOULD be great if they did them to go with novels! We can usually pick one that relates in some way to what we’re learning in other areas but very rarely to the books themselves. What a cool idea! : )

  4. My middle daughter is at this point physically unable to sit still. Once I accepted this as her norm and let go of my rigid, “you must be looking at me to hear me”, and mind you that is very hard for me because I need eye contact to focus, I discovered a secret. She has an amazing memory, but she must be doing something to retain anything. It is how she processes information. Now that I let her do a quiet activity during read-aloud time, she can repeat back nearly word for word who or what the chapter I read was about. I can not do the same thing every time because they get bored with an activity after so long so I am continually looking for new ideas. We stay with an idea for usually two to three weeks, and sometimes during that time toggle back and forth between ideas. Right now, the girls are learning, at their request, to embroider. They wanted to make Christmas gifts for the grandma’s this year. So that is the perfect activity for us right now. Coloring is a good one, with various drawing instruments. In fact, a lot of time, I have them draw what they picture the story I am reading looks like in their minds. One of the best ones we have used is to use scrap paper and give them scissors and a fresh piece of drawing paper. Then they cut the scrap paper into piece and use glue sticks to make a picture with the scrap paper.

    1. I LOVE that idea Michelle, having them create pictures based on what I’m reading, that is an awesome idea and I might give that a go! I’m so thankful we all have the opportunity to fine tune things specifically to our kids and their learning styles!

  5. I think you touched on an important point there, Michelle Cobb.
    Some children (and probably adults) really don’t learn or absorb information without some form of body movement. I imagine these children are the ones who are branded “troublemakers”, “learning disabled”, or often “ADHD” when in a ‘sit still and quietly’ learning environment.
    I think most of it comes back to us, as parents and educators, re-assessing all our preconceived notions and questioning ourselves.

  6. This is amazing! I also read aloud to my grandson when I teach him. An ability to read and write requires so much training- in my opinion, the phonics method has been proved to be the most effective in improving reading automaticity when teaching children how to read.

  7. Another good way to keep little hands busy and quiet is giving them special sketch pads only for reading time or, if you can tolerate it, clay or silly putty works great. I also gauge how interesting the book is by how well they pay attention. Some books just aren’t and I would dig around to find one that best suited my 3 boys on whatever topic I was trying to teach, reinforce, etc. Sometimes, it was better to go off curriculum than frustrate myself and them with material that wasn’t working for us. Also, I read aloud often while they were eating lunch or breakfast.

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