Thursday, September 13, 2012

10 Ways to Spice up Read Alouds in the Classroom

10 Ways to Spice up Read Alouds in the classroom

The beginning of the year is such an exciting time of year.  We get to know our new students, set the routines/expectations, and begin opening the minds of the little people before us.  Before long, we will be all settled in and looking for new ways to refresh ourselves so that we can keep these little people entertained and excited about learning. 

We all know the importance of read-aloud time in the classroom and if we have been teaching long enough we may have fallen into routines that need a little spicing up.  So today’s post is all about how to spice up those routines and keep read aloud time fresh and fun.

  1. Read a book on the ipad
  2. Dress up as a character in the book
  3. Mystery Guest Reader
  4. Listen to a book on tape and pause it to model think-alouds
  5. Use props
  6. Sing a book – Some books are to songs like I Know and Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly by Nadine Bernard Westcott.
  7. Invite the Skyping Reading Tutor to read a book to your students
  8. When predictable pattern books repeat, stop and let the kids chime in.
  9. Enjoy some fresh air and read a book outside
  10. Have kids draw pictures from the book of things they can visualize happening.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these and how they can spice up our read-alouds.

1. Our children today are very technology driven, by reading a book on the iPad we can speak their language.  You will notice that their eyes will light up and some of the bells and whistles attached to the books make them entertaining.  Sometimes there is background music and different parts of the book that reveal more information.  It is so much fun to explore these books and if you follow free apps, then you can usually get them for free.  Perhaps your school has purchased RAZ kids, if so then you can download the learninga-z app for free and have access to all of their books.

2. Dressing up as a character from a book is not a new idea, but it is certainly an idea to spice up a read aloud.  Anytime a teacher decides to get out of his/her comfort zone and act a little silly, the kids will always respond in a positive way.  Now if you tell the story with the accent that you would expect that character to have, then you will have a ton of applauds from your students.

3. Guest readers are always a way to add excitement to read aloud time, but when you have a mystery guest reader the excitement can last even longer.  During the morning announcements you can announce that today you will have a mystery guest reader and give clues for them to try to figure out who it could be.  The mystery guest could be another teacher, an older student, an administrator, or a parent.  You can keep the kids in suspense for as long or as little as you would like.

4. During read aloud time we like to model strategies that children need to embed when they are reading.  One way to do this is to have a book on tape or CD and pause it when it is time to model the strategy.  This helps for the kids to see that this thinking is happening in your head and are not actually words in the book.  Also, the voices on the recorded books are always very animated and exciting to listen to.

5. Using props always gets kids attention.  For example if you were reading the book Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman, then you could use a go sign and a stop sign that you make.  You could introduce the signs at the beginning of the book and then when the word go comes up you could have a student at the front of the room hold up go and when stop is said you could have another student hold up the stop sign. 

6. You may not have a great singing voice, but none is required when singing to children.  They love to hear the adults in their life sing.  I can’t help but naturally sing to books like I Know and Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  You will instantly see kids faces light up and they will want to sing right along with you if they know the words.

7. I have heard that the Skyping Reading Tutor does an amazing job when she volunteers in the classroom via Skype (o.k, this is my shameless plug, I love reading books to kids and being a guest reader and yes, the Skyping Reading Tutor is me.)  You can check out an example of a skype read aloud session here

8. Kids like to take part in their learning and read alouds are an important part of their learning.  You can have kids read the predictable pattern part.  They will be excited when it is their turn to read or memorize.  They can even do it in different voices and play with fluency.  You can have them read it in a soft voice, an old person’s voice, or a super loud voice.  This adds a whole new level of excitement.

9. Sometimes just changing the location of where you are reading spices up the read aloud experience.  So you can go outside, or read in a different area of the school, you can even combine classes with another grade level teacher. 

10. Last, but not least, you can have the kids illustrate pictures that they think the illustrator drew in the book or that they think the illustrator would draw if there were pictures.  As a class you can talk about some things that kids drew as a recap of what happened in the story.

It is my hope that you received one new idea that you can utilize when you are trying to spice up your read aloud time.  So, pick the one that you like best and try it out.

About the Author
Joanne Kaminski, a.k.a. the Skyping Reading Tutor volunteers in classrooms all over the world and shares her passion to motivate children become a better read.  She was a classroom teacher for 3 years in an inner city school called the Milwaukee Academy of Science and then received her Masters as a Reading Specialist.  She held the Reading Curriculum Coodinator’s postion for 6 years.

Joanne currently owns her own tutoring company and teaches kids from all over the world.  She has her own blog at  She is currently writing a series of blog posts called 31 Days to a Better Reader that is a fantastic tool for parents to implement with their children.  If you find that it is useful information feel free to pass it along to parents in your newsletter or at conferences.


  1. I love your ideas! I am constantly looking for ways to keep my students involved...thank you for refreshing my memory!

    5th Grade Tomfoolery


  2. I would love to set up a session with you to read to my kids... I am not sure how quickly I could set it up... but we are studying the midwest and we haven't talked about Wisconsin yet... so I think my kids would enjoying "meeting" someone from another state!