TRC Read to Kids

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No-Supplies Activities

Uh-oh.  Got caught without the supplies you were counting on for your Read-Aloud activity? No matter how carefully you plan, some day your team may find itself with a room full of kids and no supplies for your activity. No need to stress!  Here are some ideas for activities that work off all that creativity in the room.
If he can get this excited about a cherry tomato, he'll love your no-supplies required activity!

Here are some ideas for activities that don't require anything more than time, imagination and what's already in the room.

Games can connect to the theme and let the kids get out their energy.

A good round of "Duck, Duck, Goose" or "Musical Chairs" might be just the thing if you sense that your audience is antsy and full of energy. You can change the name of the game to make it match with your theme. Play "Dog, Dog, Cat" for a theme about pets or dogs or cats. Other games such as "Sharks and Minnows" can be adapted as well -- for example, try reading The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and play "Pigs and Wolves." For games like this, feel free to take the game outside if there is space available and the staff okays its use.  

For a calmer group, try a game of "Telephone" starting with a sentence about the story. If the group is large, form two groups and start each group with the same sentence. The kids will think it's hilarious to hear the different results.

Create games within stories or poems.

After reading the story once, assign a motion to a certain word -- for example, jump every time you hear "Not I." Read the story again with the first motion, and then add a second. This time, jump every time you hear "Not I," and spin around every time you hear the word "bread." The third time...etc. This will work better with shorter stories, and will work especially well with stories or poems containing repeated words, lines or verses.

Reenact a story.

After you've read the story the first time, ask the kids to tell it back to you. Then, read it a second time, but be sure to ask them what's coming next before turning the page! After a second read-through, assign parts and ask them to act out the story. You may want to do it more than once so that different kids get to play different roles, or with more than one story if the audience is older and picks up the story more quickly. 

Variations on this activity include the following:

  • Ask the kids to act out the story without words. Then after they've done that, have them do it in double time. 
  • Pick a funny prop from whatever is already in the room (a chair or a stuffed animal) and have your actors incorporate it in to the story.
  • In a group, ask the kids to make up an alternate ending to the story. Prompt them by asking "what if..." questions. What would have happened if Little Red Hen's friends had agreed to help her bake the bread in the first place, or if Cinderella had refused to leave the ball at midnight? Ask individuals or pairs to come up with alternate endings, and then act them out.

For other ideas, check out this list of icebreakers and group games. You may have to adapt some for a younger crowd, but it's a great place to start.

Post by The Reading Connection intern Anna McCormally.

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