How to Keep Active Kids Busy During Read-Alouds

No matter what has changed in our homeschool over the years or how old my children have grown, one thing has remained constant… read-aloud time. My children still remember so many of the books we’ve enjoyed as a family – and so do I!

Sometimes snuggled under blankets on the couch, sometimes lounging on a lawn, read-aloud books have been a daily highlight for years. But, as enjoyable as it’s been reading stories with my children, the experience hasn’t always been one of stillness. I learned early on that I needed some tools in my toolbox to keep active kids busy during read-alouds on most days.

Some kids are just wiggle-worms. The most exciting tales can keep a child’s mind rapt with adventure, but their bodies still just move. Some learners listen best when their hands or bodies are otherwise occupied, offering a run-off for excess energy and allowing for more focused attention. Other children are so young that they can’t quite follow the storyline, but they want to participate. No matter the exact circumstances or dynamics of your family read-aloud time, it is always wise to plan for some hands-on activities or fidgets to keep busy hands and busy bodies from causing distractions.

Toys for Active Kids

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Ideas to Keep Active Kids Busy During Read-Alouds

I’ve rounded up a large list of items that are perfect for listeners who could use a quiet activity to keep the mind and body from wandering too far. I find it best to reserve these items for read-aloud time only. I also like to switch out the items so that only one or two are available at a time. Both of these tactics keep the active learner engaged without becoming overwhelmed.

No-Mess, No-Noise Toys for Read-Aloud Time

Oftentimes, parents are hesitant to introduce toys during a read-aloud for fear that they will be more distracting than they are helpful. However, the items listed below offer hours of open-ended play with no sirens, bangs, or stains. They can be used to build, bend, and balance aimlessly while listening to fantastic tales out loud. No paints to spill, no instructions to distract, just easy fun that can be reused as often as your library card!

Sensory Fidget Toy, Arts and Crafts for Kids, Non-Toxic, Waxed Yarn, 6 inch, Reusable Molding and Sculpting Sticks, American Made by Wikki Stix, Assorted Colors, 24 packJovi Plastilina Reusable and Non-Drying Modeling Clay; 1.75 Oz. Bars, Set of 10, 1 Each of 10 Colors, Perfect for Arts and Crafts ProjectsCaydo 324 Pieces Pipe Cleaners 27 Colors Chenille Stems for DIY Art Creative Christmas Crafts Decorations (6 mm x 12 Inch)MOJELO 12 Pack Stretchy String Fidgets Sensory Toys Build Resistance Squeeze Strengthen Arms, Monkey Noodle Stress Reliever Toy for Kids with ADD, ADHD or Autism, and Adults to Increase Focus PatienceSpeks Geode Magnetic Fidget Sphere - Pentagons 12-Piece Set - Aqua - Fun Desk Toy for Adults64 PCS Magnetic Balls and Rods Building Sticks Blocks Set Vibrant Colors Different Sizes Curved Shapes Children Educational Stacking STEM Magnet Toys for Kids Age 3+Magna Tiles Metropolis Set, The Original Magnetic Building Tiles for Creative Open-Ended Play, Educational Toys for Children Ages 3 Years + (110 Pieces)BMAG 46 PCS Magnetic Balls and Rods Set , Magnet Building Sticks Set, Building Blocks Tiles, STEM Stacking Toys for Kids,Juniors,ToddlersCrazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, 3.2 Ounce, Super Magnetic Tidal WaveSGILE Magnetic Drawing Board Toy for Kids, Large Doodle Board Writing Painting Sketch Pad, Blue36PCS Wooden Balancing Stacking Stones Rocks, Wood Building Blocks Set, Sorting and Stacking Games, Lightweight Natural Colorful Toys, Preschool Learning Educational Puzzle Toys for Kids 3 Years UpJaxoJoy Foam Building Blocks for Kids - 108 Piece EVA Foam Blocks Gift Playset for Toddlers - Includes Large, Soft, Stackable Blocks in Variety of ColorsPlus-Plus - Learn to Build Basic Color Mix, 400 Piece - Construction Building STEM | STEAM Toy, Interlocking Mini Puzzle Blocks for KidsMagicbutton Building Stacking Block Puzzle Toys - DIY Plastic Button Buckle Interlocking Toys for Age 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Years - Great for Gifts Education&Learning ToysPicassoTiles 60 Piece Set 60pcs Magnet Building Tiles Clear Magnetic 3D Building Blocks Construction Playboards - Creativity beyond Imagination, Inspirational, Recreational, Educational, ConventionalToddler Busy Board - Montessori Sensory Activity Board for Toddlers - Develops Basic and Fine Motor Skills - Learn to Dress Toys for 1 2 3 4 Year Old Kids - Learning Toy for Airplane or Car TravelMontessori Busy Board for Toddlers - Wooden Sensory Toys - Toddler Preschool Learning Activities for Fine Motor Skills Travel Toy – Educational Learning Toys for 3 Years OldFun Fluff (12 Pack) Cotton Sand Fluffy Putty Toys, Sensory Sand Fluff Stuff. Stress Relief Kids Toy. Kinetic Toys Cloud Slime & Molding Play Therapy Putty Magic Kinect Sand Fidget Anxiety Relief Kids.


Art Supplies to Use During Read-Aloud Time

Numerous studies have shown an impressive correlation between art and intelligence. In fact, regular old doodling can help the brain hold on a little tighter to what’s being heard. Some learners have found that painting what they’re hearing can help them not only better process the stimuli but remember what they’re listening to in a more substantial and personal way.

Art and crafting during read-aloud time serve the double duty of keeping active kids busy and strengthening the mind! These supplies can help your children create a masterpiece to accompany a favorite book or just enjoy making a temporary treasure to lengthen the listening attention span.

EZDesk Travel Activity Kit, Laptop Style Desk with Writing and Craft Accessories for Children, 64 Piece set, MulticolorMelissa & Doug Scratch Art Doodle Pad With 16 Scratch-Art Boards and Wooden StylusEtch A Sketch - Classic - RedPurple Ladybug Wax Craft Sticks for Kids: 15 Colors, 2 Lengths - 6 Inch Standard & 12 Inch Super Long, 150 of Each - Bendable Sticky Yarn Stix in Bulk - Fun Art & Crafts Activity for Travel or at Home24 Colors Air Dry Clay Magical Kids Clay Ultra Light Modeling Clay Artist Studio Plasticine Toy Safe and Non-Toxic Modeling ClayIncredible Origami: 95 Amazing Paper-Folding Projects, includes Origami PaperAmazon Basics Origami Paper, Assorted Colors, 200 SheetsAlex Craft Simply Needlepoint Flower Kids Art and Craft Activity4M Easy-to-do Knitting Art Kit (3593)Lion Brand 7 Inch, Size 10 Knitting Needles for KidsARTISTRO Watercolor Paint Set, 48 Vivid Colors in Portable Box, Including Metallic and Fluorescent Colors. Perfect Travel Watercolor Set for Artists, Amateur Hobbyists and Painting LoversMelissa & Doug Wooden Peg Puzzle 6 Pack Numbers, Letters, Animals, VehiclesErasable Doodle Book Set, 100+ Drawing Shapes Toddler Travel Essential Activity (Green Dinosaur)LCD Writing Tablet 10.5 Inch,Erasable and Reusable Writing Board,Colorful Drawing Tablet,Writing Tablets Suitable for Boys and Girls Aged 3-8,Best Intellectual Toys. (Pink White)Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pads, 3-pk, Animals, Connect the Dots, MazesCoogam Wooden Hexagon Puzzle for Kid Adults - Shape Pattern Block Tangram Brain Teaser Toy Geometry Logic IQ Game STEM Montessori Educational Gift for All Ages ChallengeGEMEM 155 Pcs Wooden Pattern Blocks Set Geometric Shape Puzzle Kindergarten Classic Educational Montessori Tangram Toys for Kids Ages 4-8 with 24 Pcs Design CardsRainbow Loom The Original (R0001)SGILE Magnetic Drawing Board Toy for Kids, Large Doodle Board Writing Painting Sketch Pad, BlueNEIQII Water Doodle Mat Educational Toys Gifts for 3 4 5 6 7 8 Year Old Kids Boys Girls Magic Toddler Water Painting Writing Toy Mat 40 X 30 Inches Extra Large Coloring Doodling MatAcrylic Paint Pens for Rocks Painting, Ceramic, Glass, Wood, Fabric, Canvas, Mugs, DIY Craft Making Supplies, Scrapbooking Craft, Card Making. Acrylic Paint Marker Pens Set of 12 ColorsCreativity for Kids Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit - Arts & Crafts For Kids - Includes Rocks & Waterproof PaintNeedle Felting Kit 109 Pieces Set, Wool Roving 36 Colors with Complete Felt Tools and Storage Box Needle Felting Starter Kit for DIY Craft Animal Home Decoration Birthday GiftBasic Fun Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic Retro and Vintage Toy, Gift for Girls and Boys, Ages 4+ (Packaging May Vary)Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Light Brush, Painting Supplies, Gift for Kids, Age 3, 4, 5, 6My First Crayola Touch Lights, Musical Doodle Board, Toddler Toy, Gift, White, Green


Read-Aloud Wiggle Worm Supplies

Sometimes, kids just have to move. These particular kids need to wiggle, bounce, roll, shift, and stir. The items listed below are fabulous finds for children who struggle to settle. Nothing distracts from a wordy description of some far-away land faster than a kiddo who can’t calm his body, and nothing is more frustrating to a fidgety kid than being unable to direct her energy somewhere while she’s trying to focus on something important.

Check out these items created specifically for kids with a little extra energy and try a few to keep your very active kids busy during read-alouds.

Wooden Wobble Balance Board, Gentle Monster 35 Inch Rocker Board Natural Wood, Kids Toddler Open Ended Learning Toy , Yoga Curvy Board for Classroom & Office AdultGalSports Flexible Seating for Classroom Elementary, Wobble Cushion for Home Exercise, Balance Disc for Strengthen Core Stability, Wiggle Seat for Office Desk Chair (Fitness & Rehabilitation)Storex Wiggle Stool, Adjustable Height 12”, 14”, 16”, or 18” for Active Seating in The Classroom, Blue (00301U01C), 12-18 InchBosu Balance Trainer, 65cm - BlueBalance Board Foam Pad Yoga Mat, 12.2X9.4X2.4'' Rocker Board Physical Therapy, Non Slip Knee Cushioned Turn Boards for Dancers Balancing Exercises Seniors Kids Women Fitness Anti-Fatigue Training PadsRelax Your Kids While Playing Games, Reading With This Scoop Rocker in Assorted Colors (Pack of 6)Body Back Wooden Foot Roller, Foot Massager for Plantar Fasciitis, Stress Relief, RelaxationVaunn Medical Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser with Electronic Display for Legs and Arms Workout (Fully Assembled Folding Exercise Pedaler, no Tools Required)Sanho Yopo Dynamic Movement Sensory Sox, Medium,6-9 years old, 47''LX27''W BlueHAOWANER Minky Kids Weighted Blanket 7lbs 41 x 60 inches, Soft Kids and Toddler Comforter Great for Calming and Sleeping, Child Bed Size, Dinosaur-BlueKinetic Desk Toy Ball, Optical Illusion Desktop Fidget Spinning Toys for Adults Anxiety, Office Cool Gadgets Decision Maker Toy for Relaxing Stress Relief ADHD(Rainbow)4E's Novelty Expandable Breathing Ball Toy Sphere for Kids & Adults, Expands from 5.6Pack of 3 Chair Bands for Kids with Fidgety Feet Fidget Bands for Kids with Sensory ADHD ADD SPD Autism Sensory Needs Natural Latex Stretchy Foot Bands for Home Classroom Chairs School Desks (3 Pack)Writable Weighted Lap Pad for Kids: 10MARFULA Folding Balance Beam Extra Stability Wood Balance Beam 8 Ft Balance Beam Gymnastics Balance Beam Floor Balance Beam Gymnastics for Kids/Adults Home UseLHY NEWS 8Pieces Balance Beam Set for Kids Wavy Circle Non-Slip Stepping Stones for Indoor Outdoor Exercise and Gross Motor Skills


Read-aloud books are a cornerstone of homeschooling, beneficial to the learning process and the building of relationships. Whatever you read, however often you read, don’t let a case of the wiggles derail the tales you’re sharing.

Active kiddos can enjoy read-aloud time without needing to sit as still as statues or count down until the passage is over. It’s just a matter of finding the right outlets for their energy! Load up on plenty of supplies to keep active kids busy during read-alouds and you’ll extend and enrich your family’s time together!

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