How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time

How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time

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Reading aloud to your kids is like sunshine for the soul or a cool drink on a hot day! Nothing soothes the grumpies at our house like a read aloud. Nothing. I’ve been a long time advocate of reading aloud to your kids. Not just the bed time kind of reading, but the kind that can start at any time and last for hours. So, I thought it would be a good idea to give some pointers on how to get started with reading aloud and How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time.

Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Children

There are all kinds of benefits to reading aloud. It is always time invested that pays huge dividends. Here are a few:

  • Increases Vocabulary- Kids who hear big words regularly understand them and use them!
  • Increases Literacy Success- Kids who have been read to for at least 20-30 minutes a day, have excellent pre-reading skills and end up learning to read successfully.
  • Involves Dad- Dads make great readers for your kids and it has the added benefit of seeing that Dad reads and makes reading a priority. That’s a win in the world of learning to read.
  • Brings All Ages Together- There is almost always a book choice that can cover the age spread of your kids. Often I will read something a little more geared to the younger crowd especially knowing I read with my teens as well. There are plenty of family stories to choose from for one of your current selections.
  • Adds to Your Studies- What better way to learn about a topic than by being immersed in the subject via books?

When to Find the Time to Read Aloud

First of all, reading aloud to your kids is some of the best time spent in your homeschool. The benefits cannot be underestimated! That said, there some times when it’s especially a good idea.

  • Start of the Day- Start your school day off together.
  • Lesson Time- We have several books going as part of our academic time.
  • After lunch- Begin together after lunch with a good book.
  • Traveling- Take a good book along and read it while you are on the way somewhere. Can’t read in the car? Audio books make a great traveling companion.
  • Vacation- We read around the campfire or to settle everyone down in a tent before lights out. Yes, even still!
  • Day Long Outings- I have been known to gather my kids around at home shows, while my husband talks with vendors, and read to them. We enjoyed the bulk of Nim’s Island this way!
  • Waiting Areas- If you have appts and other waiting times, a good book is a great way to pass the time. On a recent trip to the ER, we read to our patient while they observed him.
  • Hikes & Long Walks- I often bring along a book to read while we rest. This was so great when our kids were younger!
  • Winter Evenings- When you need a break from screens, gather around and enjoy a story.
  • When a Regrouping is Required- When a day is going badly, we drop everything and read together. This solves a myriad of ills and we can begin again refreshed and becalmed by a story.

Strategies for a Successful Read Aloud Time

I know what some of you are thinking. The read aloud is almost a cliché in the homeschooling world. Some of you are groaning because you simply don’t like it. Aren’t good at it. Or haven’t made the time despite your best intentions.

Many of you probably are avid readers to your kids, but what do you do if you aren’t or if you have tried in the past but have not been successful with it. Maybe your kids don’t act interested. Maybe they are too squirmy. I can tell you I have been known to read to my kids for two hours at a time and if I stop it is most likely protested with kids yelling, “More!”

So, how do you get there? By just picking up a book and reading it to your kids. Enthusiastically and consistently. You can’t lose!

  • Most kids enjoy sitting on the sofa or lying on a bed while you read.
  • If you have little ones, they might enjoy some extra cuddle time while you read.
  • Fidgety kids can take a spot on the floor rolling cars or playing with another quiet toy.
  • Some of my kids really like to sit and draw while we read.
  • Take it outside. I used to read to my kids while they played at the sandbox or while they would swing. Now that my kids are older, they like the change of venue on a nice day.
  • Think about the best time of day for a read aloud- when is best for a quieter activity? Or maybe it’s a time when things are just out of sorts. A read aloud is a great way to restart our day.
  • Know your audience! Pick books to which you know your kids will best respond.
  • Read to your kids separately- We often think of reading all together, but you can drive interest by reading to kids on one one or to just a few kids at a time. This way you can pick up a book that might be fabulous for your older kids and not so great for the younger ones. Pour into your kids’ interests by setting aside time just for them.

How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time

How to Choose Books for Reading Aloud

With so many options out there, along with different preferences and family values, how do you choose which books to read? How do you know what’s appropriate?

  • Consult books about books- There are annotated bibliographies designed to share about books which can give you information.
  • Go with an interest- It’s hard to go wrong if you choose a book within a child’s interest.
  • Prepare kids to read more in a series- I will often choose a read aloud based on a series I know my kids will love. One that I want them to read independently. Once I hook them with the first story, or even the first half of the first story, they are motivated to pick up more on their own. This is an excellent strategy to use when you have a reader who judges a book by its cover so to speak!
  • Choose a family option- a book that can be read to everyone. Youthful enough that young children get it and written well enough to capture older kids.

What to Do If You Don’t Like to Read Aloud

Personally, I adore reading aloud to my kids. My kids also love to read aloud and they love to be read to! But if you don’t enjoy reading to your kids, what are some other options?

Audio Books- There are lots of sources for audio books.

  • Audible- We love Audible. All of my kids are readers, but a few of them love audio books. A Kindle and an Audible account are a match made in heaven! With a free credit each month and deals on classics and lectures all the time, this has been a great investment for us.
  • Libravox- This site has free audio versions of public domain books. Free is good, but some readers aren’t very good. It’s hit or miss.
  • Jim Weisse- A perennial storyteller for the homeschool crowd, his stories are available on CD and mp3. This link is to the digital collection.
  • The Library- You can borrow audio books both on CD and mp3 audio files through digital circulation.

Have the Kids Take a Turn- When I’m tired or under the weather, my kids are great at reading aloud. It provides speech practice for our apraxic kid and my teens love to read to me. My 16yo is reading, The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis out loud to me. Time well spent for both of us.

Do It Anyway- All it takes is 20 minutes of your time. 20 minutes is the magic number for big benefits. You might not be the read aloud queen, but surely you can muster up courage for 20 minutes of reading!

Resources on Reading Aloud

It’s always nice to have encouragement along the way. Reading aloud is a great tool in your arsenal to build a family reading culture. Here are a few places I find inspiring:

  • Trelease on Reading- This is Jim Trelease’s website. You’ll find a lot of statistics on the effectiveness of reading aloud along with anecdotes. Reading is a big deal and Mr. Trelease shares all the compelling reasons to devote your time to it as a parent.
  • Read Aloud Revival- Sarah Mackenzie has done a fabulous job of creating a community of parents who are committed to reading aloud. You can find free podcasts on this page on all sort of topics related to reading aloud- for young children and teens. Don’t forget to check out her membership site. I joined because I knew I’d love the extra inspiration on something we do. Sure, I’ve been doing it for years, but I love the cheerleading and resources.
  • Storyformed- This is Sarah Clarkson’s site on reading and story. This corner of the internet is all about why stories are so important to children and well…all of us! You’ll learn about how story impacts our imaginations for a lifetime.

The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home

Related Blog, She Wrote Links on Reading

Building a reading culture is one of our strengths here at Blog, She Wrote. Please take the time to be encouraged by reading these posts.

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Reading Culture in Your Home- This is a one stop resource spot for all things reading and library building in our home.

How to Organize Your Homeschool Library- Part of building reading in to your day is having a rich source of print material. How do you keep it all ready to use and inviting?

100 Books You Should Read by The Time You Turn 20- This is a post put together by my high schoolers and it’s for high schoolers in response to the NPR list of 100 best book for teens.

Read aloud veterans good for you! Keep up the great work. Those of you who have not tried or have not been consistent I urge you to keep on trying until it works. Often times I will read aloud to a timid reader until he wants to take the book on his own. I get them into the book and then when they are impatient waiting on me to finish, they pick it up for themselves. How’s THAT for clever??

Another great benefit of reading aloud to your children is that when they read to you as emerging readers and beyond, you won’t be bored because they will read to you with the same inflections and tones of enjoyment with which they are read!

Truly that is a joy to experience.

Reading aloud to my kids is one of my favorite things to do! We have had many enjoyable hours reading aloud to our children over the years. The more you do it, the more you get used to it and the better at it you become. Likewise, the more you do it the better your kids get at listening and what a profound skill to have!

As much time as I’ve spent here, I’ve really only scratched the surface of the advantages of reading aloud for your family. Reading good books to your children at every age is a wise investment of your time- as a mom and a homeschooler. It reaps benefits far beyond those precious moments so enjoy them!

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How to Make a YouTube Playlist

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

This post contains affiliate links, thanks for your support!

Recently on the Blog, She Wrote Facebook page, I asked readers if they used a YouTube playlist and if so, to share some of their favorite YouTube channels. We gathered some great information on some fun channels, but I also learned that not everyone knows what a YouTube playlist is. Today I hope to help readers out by explaining How to Make a YouTube playlist.

What is a YouTube Playlist?

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

Here are a few things to know about YouTube playlists:

  • It’s a customized list of videos to watch.
  • You can choose the categories for your videos.
  • Choose as many categories as you’d like.
  • Anyone can view your playlists unless the videos are marked as private.
  • You don’t need a Google account to view the playlists, but you do need to have one to make playlists
  • Share playlists with friends.
  • They are super easy to make and save for later!

How to Create a YouTube Playlist

Benefits of a YouTube Playlist

So, what are the advantages of setting up playlists? There are many:

  • Set up categories for school videos and save them for later as you are planning.
  • Save a list of your child’s favorite shows without having to hunt for them each time he wants to watch.
  • Customize your lists for your homeschool and child.
  • Make a list for each child.
  • Make lists of assigned videos for the week.
  • Helps to make YouTube a “safer” place for your child because a “yes” list has been created for them by you- that does not take the place of being around! (Managing the Internet in Your Home might give you more ideas)
  • Make a playlist of your favorite YouTube videos related to a topic or a YouTuber. You can start by checking out my playlists on YouTube. I’m just getting started, but it’s good stuff!

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

So, how do you make a playlist? Here you go:

  • Go to your YouTube page and click on “My Channel”.
  • Next find “playlists” in the center of the page and click.
  • To create categories, choose “+Add playlist” and type a category name.
  • When you find a video you’d like to save to a playlist, click on “+Add to” and select the category. It will automatically save to that list.
  • You can also click “+Add to” and create a new category. This way if you find something that doesn’t fit and you want to add a category, you can make it right from there. Also, you can just start searching videos and create categories as you go.
  • When you want to watch a playlist, you simply go to your channel and click playlists to see them all.
  • By default you already have a “liked videos” category.

How to Homeschool with a Kindle

How to Use a YouTube Playlist

Once you have some playlists saved, what’s next? How will your students watch the videos?

  • On the TV through the Wii (or a laptop) - great option for those without tablets and excellent for lots of kids to see it at once.
  • Computers- Both laptops and desktops
  • Tablets- iPads & Kindle Fires are great options (check out how we use our Kindle Fires)
  • Small Devices- Like iPod Touches and Android devices
  • Many mobile devices have YouTube apps which help with viewing- I just tried one out on my Android smartphone and it’s perfect! You can add videos to playlists and create them there too which means you can make your lists on the go as well.

Once you have your YouTube preferred medium worked out, you can use and share Playlists any time. I like to share a video while we wait at the doctor’s office or any other time we are on the go. Usually we find videos which are relevant to a topic of study and I can save it to a playlist and let the kids know.

Now it’s time for a YouTube content post, right? We know how to create and save to playlists, let’s find some good stuff to fill them up!

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Beat Cabin Fever with Fresh Homeschooling Ideas

Beat Cabin Fever with Fresh Homeschooling Ideas

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s March and I don’t know about you, but in upstate NY we are still socked in by winter and we’ve had a school year fraught with illness. We’re getting a little stir crazy! What do you do when you are only half way through the third quarter and it’s time to hit the books? You look for ways to Beat Cabin Fever with Fresh Homeschooling Ideas!

Beat Cabin Fever with Good Stories

Reading aloud as a family is always a good way to sooth the grumpies at our house. It doesn’t matter how old our kids get. They always love a good story! Suggestions for lifting spirits this time of year:

  • Choose a family favorite to read again- Swallows & Amazons or some other great adventure can provide hours of enjoyable listening time.
  • Start a reading streak- How many days can you go with reading daily?
  • Listen to Audio Books- While you play games, work on handicrafts, or build creations using building blocks, legos, etc. We are members of Audible and enjoy listening from our Kindles.

supplies 1-1

Try a New Art Medium

I like to challenge our kids now and then with a new art project. As long as mom is ready to go, it’s easy to get the kids on bard- even those who don’t enjoy art. Here are a few I’d like to try:

Avoid Cabin Fever by Cooking Together

It’s important for our kids have cooking skills before they leave home, but how many of us leave time to allow our kids to cook with us? Use some days here and there to do some good old fashioned “home ec”.

  • Have your kids plan a meal- Then they get to make it!
  • Try a new dessert- Sometimes all you need is a little lift.
  • Teach them to make a pie crust- One of the things on my summer list of things to do! If you don’t know how, then it’s a great time for you to try!
  • Make a Thanksgiving Meal- Just for fun. Work on the timing of preparing a big meal.

Play Games to Bust Cabin Fever

100 Family Games for Kids of All Ages

You can never have too many games choices in your house! Grab out some old favorites or try some new ones. Here are a few ideas to bust the late winter boredom in your homeschool.

  • Scrabble- Great vocabulary practice and building game
  • Bananagrams- This is a challenging game to race to build the first crossword. All ages can play these games.
  • Monopoly- Math game with many skills built in. You can even have your kids make a math journal page about their game experience.
  • Equate- This is a more challenging equation game that plays like Scrabble. There are leveled tile sets which help practice all sorts of equations.
  • Chess- It’s never too early to learn chess and it’s a game that builds strategy and thinking ahead skills.

Adjust Your Homeschooling

Sometimes all you need is to change your pace with academics. How? Here are a few ideas:

  • Write Fiction- Instead of plowing ahead through your writing curriculum, change gears and write fun stories. You
  • Follow and Interest- With Adventure Boxes for your kids or anything that has sparked them during their regular studies.
  • Reading Challenge- Revisit old favorites, try out a new series, start a family book club, etc.

103 Fresh Homeschooling Ideas

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas has some truly inspiring thoughts from the 55 homeschool mom authors. I picked out just 10 of the chapters that I thought would make great cabin fever busters right now.

  • Easy Ways to Keep Science Hands-on and Fun- Learn about ways to spruce up science time.
  • Games: Playful Learning with Kids- When things get slow at our house, a game always changes things up.
  • How to Use Movies for Learning- When the snow is blowing or the mud is deep, try out a movie for learning.
  • How to Make the Most of a Field Trip- When being outside isn’t easy, travel to someplace new.
  • You CAN Teach Art- Art projects always provide a pick me up on a grumpy day.
  • Teach with LEGO Bricks- Find out ways to use LEGOS you hadn’t thought of before!
  • Hands-on Learning- What new ideas will be shared here to break up the monotony.
  • Teaching Creative Writing- Take a break from the grammar and enjoy some creative writing ideas.
  • Teaching with Geography Quests- Enjoy a virtual field trip as you learn about new places.
  • Everything You Need to Know about Gardening to Get Started- Nothing makes you think spring like planning your garden or planting seeds indoors.

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

Once winter is over, we’ll have a mud season to contend with while the snow pack melts and things dry up. Spring fever is a serious malady here. How do you handle cabin fever when it starts to show up?

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