TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Read-Aloud Report: 1, 2, 3, Read with me!

Thanks to Kristin Stadum, a long-time Read-Aloud volunteer at Freedom Place, for this Read-Aloud report.  TRC spotlights Read-Alouds that successfully build reading skills and motivation while also being fun for kids and volunteers. These Read-Aloud reports act as a resource for other volunteers and provide examples for the public of our program.

I can't remember what I had originally intended for the theme for the night, but it certainly wasn't numbers. I thought numbers would be too dry, too staid, too nerdy by far! But when I was at the library, great titles kept jumping off the shelves.

"Well, here goes nothing," I thought and settled on numbers as the theme.

As the kids picked up their name tags, we had them guess the number of blueberries in one jar and cherries in another. Later, these would form part of the night's snack.
An example of a book box for
Zin, Zin, Zin A Violin
contains sheet music, rosin, a violin
string and other related items.

We introduced the topic with a book box (an idea from the a TRC volunteer seminar on the brain). Before presenting the books, we pulled items related to numbers out of a box and passed them around the room, giving the kids a chance to guess the nature of our theme. An abacus was quickly followed by a ruler, calculator, phone, playing card, dominoes, dice, and foreign coins.

Each kid held onto a multicolored, multi-sided dice (each one unique) and/or a foreign coin as the evening progressed. While the items didn't exactly keep them from fidgeting, they helped keep the focus on numbers while we read books like 100 Things That Make Me Happy, 17 Things I Am Not Allowed to Do Anymore, and The Three Little Pigs.

Here's a list of the books we used:
We brought a lot of books to be sure there was something that appealed to everyone. A few books were read to the whole group, while others were read to multiple small groups. Some didn't get read at all.

After reading, we revealed how many berries and cherries each jar contained and divvied them up as part of our snack. Then we played a clapping game* focused on numbers (which failed miserably but centered the kids) and donned pedometers to see who could get the most steps by the time that a song (8 Days a Week by the Beatles) ended. Participants were urged to dance, jump, or run in place –- anything to increase their step count. The winners received foreign coins and individual die as medals. (*See below for clapping game examples.)

Going into the Read-Aloud, we were unsure how many kids would be attending and whether we would be able to spend time outdoors. We played the activity by ear but planned alternate activities such as playing hopscotch, Go Fish, and dominoes. (**See below for an alternative activity.)

What makes this Read-Aloud so effective? 
  • It has a theme that unifies the experience but is broad enough to accommodate different ages and interests.
  • A wide variety of great Read-Aloud books are available on the topic.
  • It incorporates sensory experiences (holding items, eating blueberries and cherries, listening to music) and movement (clapping and dancing or running).
  • The activities related well to the theme and allowed the kids to experience the theme in concrete ways.
  • It had alternate activities planned to accommodate the kids or the environment.
If you have conducted a super successful Read-Aloud, please contact Stephanie at 

*Concentration Clapping Game

While sitting on the floor, assign everyone a number and start a rhythm by slapping thighs twice and clapping twice. A person says her own number with the thigh slaps and someone else's number with the claps. The second person picks it up and says a third. If a kid misses his/her number or the beat, then he/she is out (but still clapping). It keeps going until only one person is left.

Concentration (slap slap clap clap)
Are you ready? (slap slap clap clap)
If– so –(slap slap clap clap)
Let’s– go!(slap slap clap clap)

Then, player one, continuing the rhythm, says her own number twice followed by another number in the circle.

For example:
Player one: 1, 1, 4, 4 (slap slap clap clap)
Player four: 4, 4, 7, 7 (slap slap clap clap)
Player seven: 7, 7, 3, 3 (slap slap clap clap)

Anybody who makes a mistake or fails to keep the rhythm is out but remains in the circle, making it more difficult for the other players, who must remember not to use the numbers of the people who are out.

**One Frog

The first person says, "One Frog."
The next person says, "In the water."
And the next person says, "Kerplunk."

Now, increase everything by one.

So, the next person in the circle says, "Two Frogs."
And the next person says, "Two Frogs."
The person after that says, "In the water."
"In the water."

Again, anybody who makes a mistake or fails to keep the rhythm is out.

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.