Reading to children has been proven to provide all sorts of wonderful benefits. Not only is reading together a terrific bonding experience, regular practice actually boosts a child’s brain development, lowers stress levels, improves vocabulary and logic skills and will increase their ability to empathize. Stories are also a great way to stimulate imagination and creativity. Colorful bedtime stories can pave the way to brand new ideas when they are filtered through your child’s mind.
With all those perks, why wouldn’t you read to your child? In fact, why not pull all you can out of story time. Rather than simply reading a chapter and putting the book away, take a portion of the story and act it out. Lingering on whimsical details and relating day to day activities to favorite books can be a lot of fun.
Practically any story can be used as a spring board to creative play. Using books for playtime is a great way to build skills without having to spend extra on entertainment.
- Make finger puppets of the characters. Simple finger puppets can be made from paper, crayons and tape. Draw the character on a strip of paper and then tape it around your finger. Paper plate or paper bag puppets can also be used or you can simply use dolls and stuffed toys.
- Eat what they are eating. Prepare a similar meal or snack as what the characters in the book are eating such as, jam and butter, soup, cookies,
- Explore outdoors. Pretend to be in the same setting as the characters in the book. Ham it up for your child until they catch the drama bug.
Specific Stories and Activities
The Princess and the Pea
I don’t know if my daughter loved the story, or acting it out more. After reading the story, we would pile up the couch cushions and then she would lie on top. Her “job” was to figure out if I had put a small ball in between the cushions or not. Even if there was a ball hidden every single time, she loved it. Of course, she also loved pretending to be a princess.
The storybook we had for this tale was only a short board book, but that hardly mattered. My kids took the part about the magic carpet and sailed away in their imaginations. Any throw rug will do. A neighbor boy stopped over while they were playing one day and was excellent on narrating the imaginary sights, that gave my kids a real creative boost.
Where the Wild Things Are
This story is fun to act out as you read it. Lots of pictures for inspiration along with the pauses in the story make it a perfect choice for a cranky afternoon. Somehow behaving like Max, or the Wild Things, helps cure the grumps.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Work on your child’s memory skills while talking about this book during breakfast one day. Serve oatmeal and ask questions about the story. If your children are anything like mine, they will come up with creative answers and silly solutions to Goldilocks problems.