Teaching reading is fun and creative, but is can be a challenge, particularly if you are a teacher who likes to get students up and moving.
Movement is important, especially for kinesthetic learners, and full body involvement is always helpful for ESL students. Here are 8 simple activities you can use in reading class or as inspiration for your own movement reading activities the next time you want to get your students on their feet.
Full body reading: get your students moving with these fun activities!
When it’s time to introduce or review vocabulary with your class, why not do it in a silly game of twister? Put one target word on each circle. Then play the game as you normally would. Have students take turns spinning (you spin for them) and moving the correct hand or foot to the color that they spinned. However, before they can put their hand or foot down, they must read the word on the space. If you are reviewing the words, have them give the definition as well or use it in a sentence or give an antonym. If you like, make the game available at a reading center during free learning periods.
The next time you want students to answer comprehension questions about a reading passage, try this active-ity. Post the reading passage in one place in your room. Put your students in pairs, and give each pair a copy of the comprehension questions for the passage. Then have one person run up to the passage and look for the answers to the questions. When she finds one, she runs back to her partner, tells him, and the partner writes the answer down. Students then switch roles. Students continue until they have all the questions answered.
Reading Treasure Hunt
A fun and simple moving reading activity is setting up a reading treasure hunt in your classroom. Start by giving students a short clue to read which will lead them to an area of your classroom where you have hidden the next clue. They will then read that clue which will lead them to the next, and so on. Finally, students read the clue to the location of the treasure which could be a fun snack, a game, stickers, or another reward your class would enjoy.
Take a Reading Walk
If you are teaching lower level students or children at any level, a reading walk is a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air while also reading a fun picture book. To set up the walk, choose a picture book that your students will read and make full color copies of each page in the book. Then attach each copied page to a stick or lawn sign (paint stirring sticks or croquet wickets are good for this) so you can set them up at various places on your school property. Also make sure you put a clearly visible number on the page so students go to the signs in the correct order. If possible, put a bowl or basked of small objects (small plastic toy, sticker, picture, etc.) that relate to that page of the story at the foot of the sign. For the activity, stagger student start time and have them go to each page of the book in order, read it, and collect the object at that sign. When they are finished reading, students can then use the objects they collected to retell the story back in your classroom.
Fairy Tale Faking
Do you use fairy tales in your reading class? They are a fun resource for topics that entertain and touch on culture. If you do use them in class, here is a game that is a perfect follow up, and it’s a print and go, too. Janea from “I Can Teach My Child” has created a set of free, printable, fairy tale action cards that you can use with your students. Each card has a short blurb about a fairy tale character and an action to go with it. For example, one says this: You’re Gretel. It’s night and you’re cold. Gather some sticks and make a fire to stay warm. You can use this set of twenty cards with your students as a class, or have students take turns pulling one card and then doing the action on it, after they read the instructions, of course.
Retelling through Skits
Retelling a story is a great way to follow-up after reading, but who says telling can’t involve movement, too? Instead of having students just talk about a story or book they have read, have them act out the story for the class. This works best with short books and small to medium groups of students, but even one student can act out parts of a more advanced piece of reading. First, show your students what you expect, and then encourage them to use their creativity. Invite them to use props and costumes to really make their skit something special. Not only will it help them understand and remember what they have read. It will also make your reading class something truly memorable.
Movie Time, Take One
In a related activity, instead of having students make a skit about their story, have them film a movie. You can put your class in groups of four or five and have each group create a film version of something you have read in class. Many students have smart phones capable of filming, and some may have even more advanced film editing aps at their disposal. Give students some time to create their masterpiece and then have a movie day in class. Pop popcorn, watch movies, and give awards like a real red carpet event.
Poetry may not make its way into the ESL class all that often, but sometimes a little rhyme is all students need to get themselves up and moving. Write or collect short, rhyming poems that stress movement such as Snowflakes, Snowflakes. (Hint: Writing poems is easier than you think. Simply choose a topic – perhaps related to what you are reading in class that day – and then formulate verses that can be sung to a simple children’s melody. If you write these poems yourself, you control the content and the movements and can tailor them specifically to your class.) Then put your students in pairs. Have one person read each line of the poem while the other person does that action. Then have students reverse roles with the same poem or a different one. As a bonus, you will have a good idea who your struggling readers are by which students are doing the wrong actions at the wrong time.
With a little thought and planning, getting moving in reading class isn’t as hard as some might think. But these aren’t the only ways to get moving in your ESL classes.
What activities have you used with your students that get them moving in reading class?
Share your experiences in the comments section below so we can all get a little groove into our reading lesson plans.