Tools for group reading to engage young listeners
Group reading tools allow students to learn and have fun
Whether you're a public school teacher, a private school teacher, a tutor, or a homeschooling parent, you may be looking for tools for group reading. When you engage group reading, you hope to increase the students' literacy by giving them time to explore books together.
Many experts believe that learning depends on literacy, and that both spring from play during early childhood. If you accept the play-learning theory, you want to encourage play with literacy learning and teaching aids, which allow your students to play and learn necessary skills at the same time. So when you shop for tools for engaging group reading, you're probably looking for books, puppets, easels, flannel boards, props, and other items that will spark your students' imagination and allow them to have fun with the stories in your classroom.
The most important tools for engaging group reading are books your students find interesting. You can look for books which have won particular quality awards. Or if you're confident in a certain publisher or author, you can gravitate toward those books. Read children's book review magazines, ask a children's librarian, and converse with other educators about the books they've used (both good and bad books). Even with limited funds, you can find a few quality books that will function well as tools for group reading if you are willing to put some time into research.
If you have a small class or homeschool your own children, also take into account their individual interests when you shop for tools for group reading. The more excited your students are about the books, the more likely the students will want to read.
Children who can't yet read or write well often enjoy art as a method of expression. When you're looking for tools for group reading, don't forget to provide art supplies if you're dealing with a younger group of students.
Puppets, whether people or animals, can complement stories. Each student in the group can take a different character and either use the puppet for assigned lines or retell the story with the puppets. You could use finger puppets in the same way, and a set of finger puppets is generally cheaper than a set of big puppets. You can sometimes find book-and-puppet packages at teacher supply stores or children's sections at big book stores.
You can also make simple puppets from bags, socks, felt, or other materials. Better yet, have the students make their own puppets. The craft itself can be an opportunity for learning, and the later activity can help cement their understanding of the story. This way, puppets can serve as two-in-one tools for group reading.
Costumes and Props
Costumes and props are more tools for engaging group reading. Once again, students can act out the stories they have read. If your class is divided into several groups, each group can perform for the rest of the class.
Games are also important tools for group reading. They can aid comprehension, renew focus, engage competitive kids, and allow students to have fun in the classroom. You can buy games or adapt popular ones to the classroom. Check out this learning games archive on all subjects and ages to get you started with a few ideas.
Jane K. Frobose, "Learning through Play--A Child’s Job," Colorado State University ExtensionSusan Engel, "Playing to Learn," The New York Times