Back in my college days, I spent a year tutoring kindergarten to 3rd grade students through the America Reads program. My assignment was to go into the school and assist children that were struggling with their reading. Consistently, the problem I ran into was that the kids got bored of reading lists of words and the early level readers they were given. They may have only been able to read cat, sat, and hat, but they could understand a great deal beyond those words.
One cute little guy I worked with was really struggling. He and I became good buddies, but one day when I asked him to read a list of words the teacher had assigned, he looked up at me with a disappointed face and said, “I thought you were my friend.” It broke my heart, and yet, I knew how important it was for him to learn to read.
My challenge became how to make reading more fun during those beginning stages. One of my favorite methods was to take things the kids already loved and played with, and turn them into reading tools. This worked well in my tutoring, and I have since used it with my own children. Here are 10 toys your kids can use to practice their reading:
10 Toys you can use to make Reading Homework fun!! http://t.co/gHcguvSM7z #homeworkhelp
— Amy Nielson (@planplaytime) March 18, 2015
- A Tractor – Place the tractor at the top left of your word list. As your child reads each word they can pretend to scoop it up and dump it behind them. If you want them to read a little faster, have them finish the entire line before scooping the words and dumping.
- A Plastic Frog – Hand your child the frog, and tell them that he needs to get from one side of the pond to the other by hopping on the words. Your child has to read the word so the frog knows where to jump. After your child reads the word, they can help the frog jump to that word and continue with that pattern until they’ve finished their reading assignment.
- A Magic Wand – Have your child use a wand as a pointer to place under the words. They can pretend that they have magic reading power, or that the words are part of a magic spell that they are casting. Either way, the wand helps them read.
- A Doll – Dollies need to be read to, and your girls can also help teach them to read. Just have your little girl hold her dolls hand and use it to point to each word as they read together through their homework.
- A Bouncy Ball – Hold a bouncy ball in your hand. Explain to your child that you are going to drop the ball, and before they can pick it up, they have to read a word or short page. Their goal is to see how many bounces it takes before they finish. They can try to decrease the number each time. This one can be a bit distracting, but it is fun to try every once in a while.
- A Marble – Place your child’s word list in the bottom of a baking pan. Place a marble in the pan on top of the page. Have your child try to get the marble from one side of the pan to the other without touching the sides or any words. Every time they run into a word with their marble they have to read it.
- A Crocodile (or other predator) – Have your child place the crocodile or other animal at the top left of their reading page. As they read each word, have them scoot their animal along and eat the word. Make sure you make the appropriate sound effects to get the maximum fun out of this game.
- A Car – Take a small die cast car and place it under the starting word. As your child reads, they can drive their car under the words. This makes reading fun, and they can use the car as a marker to keep their place.
- A Top – Give the top a good spin, and have your child see how many words they can read before the top stops spinning or it falls off the table. Have them try to improve their number each time.
- Legos – Place a lego under each word on your word list, or one for each page of the book. As your child successfully reads each word or page, have them pick up the matching lego. When they are finished they can stack the legos together. The goal is to see how high their tower of legos can be.