Recently, my cousins, siblings, and acquaintances have started having kiddos. It’s that life stage. While I am certainly not there at all, I do have a little experience nannying for kids from 2 months old to middle school. My favorite age group is probably the 1-4 year-old range because they are constantly learning and develop such vivid imaginative stories.
To help the kids I work with develop their imaginations, I like to start reading with them very early on and asking them what might happen next. – Kids are super smart you all. That should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize that kids can tell you, create, and understand more than we imagine. – end of preach
With this in mind, here are three stories that I like to read to young tots/preschool age and activities that you can do with each story.
I love this book. It has a linear path for kids to follow and a rhythmic pattern to the words. Additionally, as the family makes their way on the hunt, they go through obstacles and each obstacle has a sound that you make like “swishy swashy” for grass.
To really amp up the story, I like to calm read most of it and then get louder and more active when the family meets a bear.
Some activities I do with this book:
–Draw your own “bear hunt” journey. Ask the child what might you have to go through to find a bear. The stuff that he or she comes up with may align with the story or be super imaginative. Each way is a great way to explore reading comprehension and critical thinking.
–Talk about the bear and what he may think. I like to ask the kiddo I’m with what she thinks the bear feels or wants. Usually her response is “sad because he wants friends” which is adorable and really possibly true given the book’s illustrations. This activity helps to develop emotional understanding with a child and empathy.
–Act out a bear hunt. As you read the story, you can pretend, (especially with older preschoolers), that you are going on the actual hunt. You can just pretend and imagine or add props. This makes it fun and exciting for kids. It also gives a kid that likes movement a chance to experience the story without just sitting.
Great book and great intro to letters. This book has a nice rhyme and rhythm to it.
Kids often pick up on the rhyme scheme if you read it a couple of times. This makes it a great pick for 2-4 years as they tend to like rhymes that they can learn too.
–Use a magnetic easel or board with alphabet letters to tell the story. I like to draw a tree on a dry erase board and have the child help tell the story with magnetic letters. We go through the book and she helps to find the letters and put them on the tree. If she needs help, we search for the letter together. At the end we erase the tree and scatter the letters. It’s a fun way to tell the story.
The “Carl” books are quite possibly my favorite books for kids. The illustrations are very pretty and really tell the story. There are typically a couple of words on the first and last page, but the middle is just images.
This is a great book for beginning literacy and comprehension. A lot of what kids infer comes from images. Talking about the images with them helps them learn what might be happening or even allow them to give a voice to what is happening. This is such an important skill!
–Ask the child to tell you the story. Again this comes back to comprehension. You may prompt the child here and there saying, “Tell me what you think is happening” or “Look what is happening here, what do you think is going to happen next?”.
-Take other familiar stories and have them retell the story without reading (just images). Kids can gain a lot of confidence from retelling stories that they are familiar with. Ask them to look at the illustrations and to tell you the story and what is happening. This helps them to realize they don’t always need to know the words to know what is happening. Eventually, you can add in how the words tell the story too.
I hope these three books help you as you interact with or love on a kid around you. There are so many fun activities that you can do with stories to help kids grow and learn. Be creative! These are just suggestions from my experience but know they are not all you can do.
What suggestions would you make to new parents, educators, neighbors, or friends with kiddos in regards to stories and books?