TRC Read to Kids

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Get Moving!

Kids have lots of energy! No matter how much kids love it when you read to them, they often have trouble sitting through a Read-Aloud. Most of the time the kids at a Read-Aloud have spent all day being asked to sit still and listen at school and during their after school programs. Schools have recess, fine arts and PE to give the kids a chance to give their minds a break. Read-Alouds should have time built into them for the kids let loose a bit as well.

Start out your Read-Aloud with a game of Simon Says, a round of stretches or a one minute dance-around. This will give the kids a chance to clear their brains and use some of the energy they've been storing. This is especially important on a rainy or snowy day when the kids have been cooped up inside all day. A simple routine of reaching up to the sky, down to the ground, to the left and right can do wonders.

It is equally as important to let the kids move again when they get restless between books. Ask the kids to participate in the story, acting out what the characters are doing by stomping their feet like the dinosaurs or waving their arms like the monkeys in the book. 

If the crowd is on the younger end of the spectrum, try a song with movements such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes or I'm a Little Teapot. Check this blog post from last September with more song options.

One of our favorite sources of movement activities is a book from Responsive Classroom entitled Energizers! 88 Quick Movement Activities that Refresh and Refocus by Susan Lattanzi Roser. Many of these activities have accompanying videos online so you can see them in action.  Check out a few of the examples below and consider using one at your next Read-Aloud. Also be sure to check out the monthly Read-Aloud tips for theme-related movement activities.

A Tootie Ta
This song asks the kids to do certain actions and to combine them as the song continues. Hilarity will ensue, so be sure the adults do it too, so the kids know it's okay to be silly.

This group of pre-K kids will show you how it's done.

Lyrics: A tootie ta, a tootie ta, a tootie ta ta (x2)
Add one of the following at the end of each verse. This part is call and response.
Thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart, knees together, bottoms out, tongues out, eyes shut, turn around.

Go Bananas! 
Let the kids "go bananas!" and channel some of their energy! Don't worry if they mix up their lefts and rights--the point is to have fun!

Arms above head, palm together
Peel Bananas, peel-peel bananas (x2)
Lower arms one at a time, then return to above head
Peel to the left
Lower left arm
Peel to the right
Lower right arm
Peel down the middle
Lower arms in front of body
And chomp! Take a bite
Clap arms like an alligator mouth
Chomp, chomp! Take a bite
Clap arms like an alligator mouth
Go bananas, go-go bananas! (x2)
Jump and spin around freely

Now here it is in action:

Dum Dum Dah Dah!
This follow-the-leader activity gives kids a chance to be the leader once they've gotten the hang of it. This can be useful for validating kids who might not often have the chance to lead a group.
The leader says "Dum dum dah dah" and demonstrates two different actions. Then, the group imitates him or her. Here are some examples:
Leader: Dum dum (clap hands) Dah dah (clap thighs)
Group: Dum dum (clap hands) Dah dah (clap thighs)
Leader: Dum dum (pats shoulders) Dah dah (pats head)
Group:Dum dum (pats shoulders) Dah dah (pats head) 

Possible movements include (but aren't limited to--make up your own, and have the kids make them up!) toe touches, straight knees/bent knees, lean left/lean right, snap fingers.
Over the course of the exercise, get quieter and quieter.  End with "Shhh shhh shhh shhh"  and make a "quiet" gesture, like fingers on lips. 

With all of these exercises, practice the words together first, and then add movements. Make sure that all of the kids have room to spread out and move around without bumping into each other! Have fun getting everyone's wiggles out and be sure to end the activity in a way that settles everyone down to listen to a book.

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


  1. I love the videos! I am NOT a singer, so seeing how simple the songs are is very helpful. I would even review them before doing a read aloud because I have no confidence. It was cute seeing the activities done by the kids. They knew exactly what to do because they seemed so familiar the them.

  2. Courtney JohnsonMay 30, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Great post! The videos are really helpful - we always hear to use movement games/songs in training but we don't usually do all of the moves so I never know how to do them right. We have done movement activities and songs before though and the kids seem to enjoy it. I think as long as the adults all play along and act as goofy as possible, the kids will too (even if they don't want to at first!).