TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, September 26, 2011

FamilyFun Activities

It can be challenging to come up with activities, crafts or games that children find exciting, so why not ask the experts for some help?

When searching for out-of-the-box craft ideas or fun games, we often turn to the internet. One of our favorite sources is the FamilyFun website. FamilyFun is a monthly magazine published by Disney that's devoted to providing parents and caregivers with fun activities, crafts, and recipes to do with kids.

Doing a theme on frogs? Learn how to make origami frog jumpers and have a race across the table or play leap-frog with the kids. Reading about superheros? Have each kid fill out their Superhero Identity Card and imagine what super powers they would have. For a deep sea theme, you could combine the snack and activity by making a Banana Octopus. If you're looking to encourage teamwork, here's a game with hula hoops that makes everyone work together but requires very few supplies. We did a successful teamwork theme with the summer reading sites at the end of the summer, but you can try it at any time of the year.

To find an idea, enter a theme in the search field in the top right corner of the FamilyFun website and click "search." You can use the filter tool to view results by a specific category, such as games or recipes, to help narrow down the choices. There's a whole section on seasonal ideas, so if your theme is holiday- or season-related, you'll find all sorts of ideas there!

Do you have other sources for great activity or craft ideas? Share them with us in the comments below!

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Report Feature: Detectives Read-Aloud

Learn about a great forensics Read-Aloud held at Sullivan House, where six- to ten-year-olds discovered the how-tos of investigation. The sample activities below will help you hold your own Detetives or CSI Read-Aloud.

  • Crime Lab Technician by John Townsend (nonfiction)
  • Mystery at the Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman (fiction)
  • The Robbery at the Diamond Dog Diner by Eileen Christelow (fiction)
The Read-Aloud included listening to Crime Lab Technician, followed by fingerprint matching! By comparing nine real fingerprints to a copy of a fingerprint found at the crime scene, the children tested their investigative skills. 

  • Compare bar codes by preparing 15 sample bar codes to bar codes drawn from a bag. The skills used to find matching bar codes are the same skills used to compare DNA by CSI!
  • Tape an animal to each child's back (the child should not know what animal it is), have the children pair off, and show them how asking questions of their partner about the mystery animal leads to correct identification. Making deductions from interviews is an important part of investigative work.
  • Prepare a tray containing 10 items and give the children about 10 seconds to look at the tray. Then take the tray away and ask the children how many items they remember. This demonstrates how difficult it is to remember detailed information and how hard it is to obtain details from an interview.

These activities are a great way to incorporate science, nonfiction, and thinking about careers into a Read-Aloud. Great job Team 3!

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Using Songs and Finger Plays

Do you see many two- to five-year-olds in your Read-Aloud group? You'll notice that their attention span is quite short. To keep the children engaged, try using songs and finger plays in between books.

What is a finger play? Do you remember singing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" as a child? Did you make hand motions as you sang? That's a finger play! Finger plays add coordinated, simple movements to a song. Young children imitate what they see you doing with your hands. Finger plays are a fun way to learn!

Check the internet for songs and finger plays aimed at preschoolers. Creative preschool teachers and play group leaders adapt classic sing-alongs to relate to almost any theme imaginable. Need a song about firefighters? Try "I'm a Little Teapot," morphed into "I'm a Little Firefighter."

Classic Finger Play Songs 
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Wheels on the Bus
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Five Little Monkeys Playing in a Tree
Five Little Ducks
This Little Piggy

Active Finger Play Songs 
I'm a Little Teapot
Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
If You're Happy and You Know It

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