25 Read Aloud Activities To Keep Hands Active

I have never expected my boys to sit perfectly still and just listen to our stories when I am reading aloud.  I certainly wouldn't mind it if they did but I also don't mind if they find a quiet activity to work on while listening.

As they have gotten older it's much easier for them to sit and listen but I still don't expect them to sit perfectly still and they often are busy doing other things.  Since I often read aloud at breakfast or lunch they've gotten quite good at preparing meals and eating while listening.

I have noticed that even though they may not look like they are paying attention it's just not true.  No matter how busy their hands look as long as they enjoy the books they're paying attention and listening!

They laugh at all the right places, repeat funny lines, and make predictions spontaneously so I know that they are listening.

Here are some quiet activities I allow while reading aloud:

  1. Coloring in our coloring books- we love these Color Counts books
  2. Playing with toy cars
  3. Building with soft blocks
  4. Snuggling with blankets and stuffed animals
  5. Playing video games on their Kindles with the sounds turned off
  6. Using our pattern blocks
  7. Playing with geoboards and elastics 
  8. Playing with Play- Doh
  9. Building with magnetic blocks
  10. Cooking/ Baking (as long as they won't need to interrupt much to ask for help)
  11. Snacking
  12.  Blowing Bubbles
  13. Playing on the swings (if we're reading outside)
  14. Putting some Lego sets together 
  15. Painting
  16. Putting together model cars
  17. Making loom band or other bracelets
  18. Puzzles
  19.  Drawing pictures 
  20. Working on Dot to Dot pages
  21. Creating with Qixels
  22. Playing with Cloud Dough
  23. Playing with toy trucks in the sand (again; if we're reading outside)
  24. Making a scratch art picture
  25. Working on Stained Glass Made Easy kits 

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  1. My kids love to play with puddy. You know the blue kind you use to hold up posters. Also found some fiddle toys like Tangle Jr. that work great for them as well. I had to put a stop to legos and things like that because they would stop paying attention to the story, but the simple hand puddy and tangle jr works wonders. Glad someone else is writing about this!

    1. Yeah there is that fine line between having busy hands and still being open to listening and then there is distracted by what you're doing with your hands. But I find that my boys are much better listeners to books and stories than they are to when I'm just talking.

  2. My son is a budding artist/writer. He's taken it upon himself to write his own 'books'...basically a retelling of whatever it is I'm reading. It's so interesting to see what he includes.

    1. That is awesome! What a fun self- guided writing/ drawing activity.

  3. I miss the days of read aloud! These are great suggestions.

    1. I just love reading aloud and don't know how I'm going to feel about it when my boys have all outgrown it...


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