Reading based activities for children of all ages
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Reading based activities for children of all ages

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray- go throw your TV set away! And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall,” writes Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Are you in search of new, fun, and educational ways to interact with your child? Whether they are just beginning their educational career or moving on to their middle school years, reading with your child is one of the most important things you can do to ensure future educational success as an independent reader.

Studies show reading for 20-30 minutes each day benefit children tremendously. It is a time set aside to teach and review important reading strategies that support comprehension, decoding skills, and vocabulary context clues.

If you are already reading with your child daily, you are probably in need of some new activities to try besides asking ongoing questions, summarising the story, and pointing out sight words and rhyming words.

Here are some new ways to interact with your children through reading based activities and separated by age group:

Ages 4-5 years:

Children at this age are just beginning to read stories that have very short and basic sentences and are filled with pictures. Print is generally large and genres such as fiction and non-fiction are being introduced. Colours, shapes, dinosaurs, and animals are popular topics with pre-school age children. Introducing basic sight words like the, and, to, we, me, but, is, and it is a good idea since they will be exposed to them early on at nursery.

Some new activities to try are:

Sight Word Hunt. Write the basic site words from above on index cards with a hole punched in the top, and slide them onto a portable ring clip. As you go to the grocery store, encourage your child to keep their eyes peeled for words on products that match the words on their ring.
Read a non-fiction story about the five senses. As an extension activity, blind fold your child and feed them one food at a time to see if they can use their sense of taste and smell to guess which food item they are eating.
Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together. After the story is over, challenge your child to put all the items in order that the caterpillar ate through. Print out colour pictures of each food item using clip art and glue them on colourful cards.
Read any fiction story to your child (Green Eggs and Ham and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie are great choices). Go outside and give your child a paint brush and cup of water. Ask them to paint their favourite part of the story on the pavement or driveway and explain to you what they liked most about it.

Ages 6-7 years:

Children at this age are reading stories that introduce new and sometimes challenging vocabulary. Background knowledge is necessary to help children understand specific content from non-fiction stories they will encounter. Many high frequency words (what, could, that) and word families (-ack, -an, -ate, -ick) will be in stories for this age group. Children also begin to notice punctuation marks such as full stops, commas, and question marks, so their use and purpose should be discussed.

Some new activities to try are:

Make a Word Wall in your home. Whether you put it in your child’s room or have a blank wall in your kitchen or empty space on the front or side of your refrigerator, you can practice finding and writing site words and other important vocabulary from stories you read together. This also will help your child with their alphabetising skills, as word walls are organised by groups of site words from A-Z.
Play I Spy with your word wall words. You can give a variety of clues such as “I spy with my little eye a word that rhymes with cat,” or “I spy with my little eye a word that means the same as happy.” This helps students learn about same and different, and how some words have many meanings.
Clap out syllables. Children in this age group need to learn that the words they read have one or more sounds in them. Create a musical instrument using an empty paper towel roll. Tape off one end to seal it and place a few beans or grains of rice in the other end. Seal it off and shake out syllables in words instead of clapping if desired. You can also utilise a toy drum, keyboard, or xylophone to do this as well.
Go on a syllable hunt. Together, look through old magazines looking for objects in pictures that have one syllable, two syllables, three syllables, and so on. Create a separate poster for each syllable.

Ages 8-9 years:

Children at this age are beginning to read small chapter books and are working on decoding strategies. They are learning what prefixes and suffixes are, what a word means according to the context clues around it, and are learning about dialogue. They also are being exposed to different types of fiction and non-fiction stories such as realistic fiction, fantasy, expository non-fiction, folk tales, and legends.

Some new activities to try are:

Read Officer Buckle and Gloria, a story about teamwork and safety. After discussing the narrative elements of the story (characters, problem, solution, setting), discuss safety tips to follow around your own home. Using old cardboard, cut out stars to resemble the badges in the story, paint or colour them, and come up with safety tips to hang in each room of your home.
After reading a non-fiction story, search online for a web quest about the main topic of your story. For example, if you are reading about penguins, there are many web quests online that are free and age appropriate to utilise and present you with a challenge or question to answer. They are not only fun but are organised in a way that takes the child step by step and offers online resources to help come to the conclusion of the quest.
Play prefix/suffix hopscotch. Draw a hopscotch board with chalk on your driveway or pavement. Fill in each block with affixes like –ly, -ful, -pre, -un, etc. Hold up a card that contains a root word such as thank, or kind and have your child toss a bean bag or rock toward the affix that could work with the word.

Ages 10-12 years:

Children at this age are reading a variety of chapter books and genres. They are able to recognise text features (table of contents, glossary, caption, sub heading) and not only read critically but for their own personal enjoyment. Knowing what types of stories your children like to read at this age is key to lend your support.

Some new activities to try are:

Scan through your newspaper. Cut out different types of author’s purpose examples. Find articles that inform, entertain, and persuade and create three separate posters.
Give your child different coloured high lighters to colour code and scan through old flyers, magazines, and newspapers to highlight captions, subheadings, main titles, and words they do not know the meaning of but would like to.
Allow your child to research a person of interest by reading their biography. Then, put on a presentation for the whole family but dressing up as that person, speaking as they would, and provide details about their life by giving an oral speech or designing a power point presentation.
These reading based activities do not take long to implement and put a fresh spin on spending reading time together. Famous author, C.S. Lewis has said, “We read to know that we are not alone.” By reading together you are showing your child that they are not.


BrainBox work very closely with Published World, a new literacy programme designed to encourage and promote reading and writing. With so much incredible literature available their aim is to really promote how exciting reading and writing is and to bring you, the reader, into a world with no limitations. Their Programme is also completely FREE for schools to receive.

You can see BrainBox’s section on their website by clicking on this link…

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