Kids need to spend time reading in order to improve their reading skills. There’s nothing quite like spending time in a good book to help them develop a love of reading. Another great strategy is to read aloud books to your kids.
But, sometimes, kids can really benefit from diving a bit deeper. From taking some extra time to explore the story, setting, and characters they’re reading about. To help you have your kids do that, here are some reading time extension activities you can try.
These ideas aren’t elaborate. Most are quite simple. But, even though they’re simple, they are all designed to help your child get more out of a book.
You can use these ideas following any book. They can easily be adapted for younger or older readers, so they’re a great addition to any homeschool. You can mix these up as you and your children see fit. Some kids really enjoy one particular type of activity, but there is benefit in trying new things.
Ready to encourage your child to get more out of reading? Let’s dive into some reading extension activities!
1. Draw a Picture
If you have a child who has a hard time sitting still while you read, this can be a great solution. Provide some paper and coloring supplies, and ask your child to draw things inspired by the book as they listen. Often, when kids have their hands busy, they can listen more intently with less disruption.
You can let your child draw anything from the book, or provide some ideas to help them stay on topic. Here are some of the things my kids enjoy drawing as they listen:
- The setting of the book
- An event from the story
- A vocabulary word that they know
- A prediction
As your child draws, they’ll be bringing the mental images they’re creating to life.
Once you finish reading, ask everyone to share what they’ve drawn. During this time, you can have some great discussions about the words, and how different people focused on different parts of the same story.
This reading extension activity isn’t limited to read alouds. You can also ask your child to draw something about a book they’re reading on their own.
2. Plan a Menu & Do Some Cooking
Some of the best meals are inspired by books. And while taking time to cook a meal takes time, there is a simple solution your child can do first. This will help them think about the book, and different food.
You can ask your children to each create a menu based on the book. They can think about the food eaten in the book, and the types of foods that would go well with those. If your child is old enough, you can have them do some internet research to learn more about foods from the location or era in the book.
Then your child can draw out their menu on a paper plate. If you want, you can even have them create a shopping list. We have several cookbooks that are inspired by books or authors, and they’ve been a lot of help in these types of activities. My kids enjoy flipping through them and finding new things to try. And, sometimes, it’s even lead to them wanting to read a particular book…
Here are some of our favorite book inspired cookbooks:
But, don’t feel like you have to go with a recipe that’s in a cookbook designed for the book you’re reading. Instead, let the book inspire you and search through your other cookbooks for some possibilities.
If you don’t have time to cook the menu, your child will still benefit from planning a menu. It’s a fun way to plan a pretend party, and while not quite as much fun as the real thing, they’re still enjoyable.
If you do have some extra time, let your children help you prepare the meal for the family. It’s a great way to build some memories and get some hands-on skills in the kitchen.
3. Do Some Costume Design
What do the characters in the book wear? With a little imagination, your child can turn household items into a costume.
They can look for clothes in similar colors, use sheets or pillowcases, and have lots of fun trying out different styles. After your child has a costume designed, you can have a costume party or fashion show to let everyone see their design.
If desired, you could take pictures and let your child put together a scrapbook about the book and the costume. It’s another extension that uses different parts of the brain, and can be a big hit for some kids.
4. Complete Some Geography Studies
Where did this book take place? Is it somewhere on Earth? Or in outerspace? Perhaps it’s in a made-up world.
If it’s set in a real location, have your child look it up on a map or globe. If they’re old enough, they can also do some basic internet research to learn more. Your child could even create a PowerPoint or brochure about the location, sharing some of their new knowledge.
And if the location is made up, have your child go back into the book to look for details about the setting. Did the author include a map of the world? Are there descriptions of it in the text? Use this information to create illustrations about the place.
5. Write an Alternate Ending
Every choice the characters make throughout the story plays a role in the end of the story. Ask your child to think about the ending, and if it could have happened any other way. You can have a discussion about choices and decisions made along the way.
As you talk through these “what if” situations, ask your child how the ending of the book would change if the character had done something different earlier. Then, have your child pick one alternate ending and write it.
You can do this during Family Writing Time.
Alternatively, if your child prefers discussions to writing, you can listen to your child tell the story with their new ending. Then you can give it a try with a different ending. You never know what could have happened.
6. Change the Setting
The setting plays an important role in every story. After all, if Peter Pan hadn’t been in Neverland, some of the magical things that happened in his story never could have occurred.
Though the setting is important, it’s not a part of the story we typically talk about. So, take some time to talk about it with your child. What would have happened if the setting of the story changed? How would “The Three Little Pigs” change if it was set in a jungle or in the tundra?
Mix things up in your discussion and think about how events would change if they took place somewhere else. You can also talk about the time period. For instance, Little House on the Prairie couldn’t have played out the way it did if it was set in modern times.
As you discuss these potential changes, encourage your child to draw a picture. What else would need to change? Would the clothing the characters wear be different? Would their mode of transport have to change as well?
There are so many possibilities with this one, so let your child unleash their creativity and really do some thinking.
7. Create a Computer Game
When my oldest daughter was in middle school, she learned how to use Scratch in our homeschool. She really enjoyed using the coding software to create different games. It became a fun extension for her after reading.
If your child is interested in coding, let them try their hand at making something inspired by the book. It can be a fun way to tie their interests into their school and let them really explore the book in a new way.
Here’s a quick one my daughter made many years ago, inspired by a part of Gulliver’s Travels. It’s been fun to look back and see how much her work has improved over the years!
8. Make a Comic Strip
Graphic novels are really popular right now, and you can often find them for different books. If one doesn’t exist for a book your child has read, encourage them to create their own comic strip inspired by the characters.
You can pick up some comic book paper on Amazon or have them use a ruler to create their own. Then, they can decide which characters to include, and what scene they want to start with. You can encourage them to add some fun words like they find in comics.
Once they’ve finished, let them share their creation with you so you can read their comic.
9. Do an Author Study
What other books has this author written? If your child enjoyed a particular book, take some time to learn more about the author. You can find additional titles and read them together. Were there any similarities in style? Which book did your child prefer?
As you do your author study, you could also ask your child to prepare a quick biographical statement about the author. They can do some basic research and see what they can learn. Then, you can have them stand up and tell you about what they learned, or write up their findings in a quick biography.
You can also encourage your child to try their hand at copying the author. They can write their own version of the story, or create pictures in a similar style. It’s a great way for your child to learn more about creating, and to try to follow a pattern established by a published author.
10. Bring Out the LEGOs
What can your child build out of LEGOs that is inspired by the book they just read? Is there a building they can make? Or a scene in the story?
You can also encourage your child to do a flat picture build of one of the characters.
If you have several children, let them each build something. Then, set up a LEGO display so everyone can check out all of the builds.
Note: Building with LEGOs is another activity that you can have your kids do while you read aloud. It can keep their hands busy so they can listen a little better…
What Activities Do You Do To Help Your Kids Dive Deeper into Books?
There were ten of the activities my kids enjoy doing to extend reading time. What are some others that your family enjoys? Share them in the comments so we can all learn from each other.