6 Benefits of Interactive Read Alouds with Upper Elementary

6 Benefits of Using Interactive Read Alouds in Upper Elementary Classroom

If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know that reading picture books with my upper elementary students is totally my thing! There is just something about gathering together and listening to a powerful story told through rich vocabulary and beautiful illustrations that truly makes the day brighter!

Interactive Read Alouds (IRAs) are a powerful instructional strategy that can bring literature to life and engage students in meaningful discussions. While commonly used in early elementary classrooms, IRAs offer numerous benefits when implemented in upper elementary classrooms. 

I know you will love using Interactive Read Alouds with your students as much as I do, so grab the FREE pack below!

6 Benefits of Using Interactive Read Alouds in Upper Elementary Classroom

Now read on to find out the top 6 benefits of using interactive read-alouds with students in your upper elementary classroom!

1. Enhanced Comprehension Skills

Interactive Read Alouds provide a unique opportunity for teachers to model and reinforce essential comprehension skills. By strategically pausing during the reading to ask open-ended questions, make predictions, or analyze characters' motivations and feelings, teachers can guide students toward a deeper understanding of the text. These discussions allow students to make connections, infer meaning, and develop critical thinking skills, leading to improved comprehension and analytical abilities.

2. Increased Vocabulary Development

One of the main benefits of interactive read-aloud is the exposure to rich and diverse vocabulary. Upper elementary students are at a crucial stage in their language development, and by reading aloud high-quality texts, YOU can expose them to sophisticated vocabulary beyond their current reading level. Through discussions and context clues provided during IRAs, students can expand their word knowledge and improve their overall language skills, which will significantly benefit their reading and writing abilities. The more they listen to books with rich language, the more those words trickle down into their writing pieces!

IRA tips and strategies 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade

3. Fostering a Love for Reading

Interactive read-alouds create a positive reading experience for students and help foster a love for literature. By selecting captivating texts and utilizing engaging reading strategies, you can captivate students' interest and make reading something that your students look forward to doing each day. It can help students build relationships with the characters that they meet, helping them realize that they are not along in many of the thoughts and feelings that they experience themselves.  Sharing their enthusiasm for books during interactive read-alouds can inspire students to explore new genres, authors, and topics independently, cultivating a lifelong love for reading.

4. Development of Listening and Speaking Skills

Interactive read-alouds provide an ideal platform for students to develop their listening and speaking skills, which is so important! By actively participating in discussions, asking and answering questions, and engaging in dialogue with peers, students learn to express their thoughts and opinions effectively and appropriately. They learn how to engage in one on one discussions with a reading partner and learn how to build off of someone else's ideas. This process enhances their oral communication skills, encourages active listening, and promotes respectful and thoughtful interactions within the classroom community.

5. Save Valuable Classroom Instructional Time

We are always looking for more time in our teaching day, am I right? If you are like me, you can't wait to pull out a new picture book and share it with your students! But...instead of always reading a new picture book, reread a previously read picture book again and again, each time revisiting the book with a new lens: read as readers, read as writers, and read as word-smiths.

When you reread previously read picture books, you help students:

  • focus on the skill or objective of your lesson instead of trying to comprehend a new story AND master a new skill
  • understand that good readers reread books and texts over and over to learn something new, better understand what was read, or just for enjoyment
  • build confidence in their reading comprehension and retell/summarizing skills

Revisiting books is not just fun and beneficial for students; it saves YOU classroom time!

IRA for older kids

6. Social-Emotional Growth

Literature often provides a gateway to explore social and emotional themes, and interactive read-alouds can serve as a valuable tool for addressing these topics. By selecting books that depict diverse characters and tackle relevant issues, you can initiate meaningful conversations about empathy, kindness, resilience, friendship, and so much more. These discussions not only promote social-emotional growth but also create a safe and inclusive classroom environment where students feel understood, valued, and connected. We all want more time in our teaching day to get in social emotional topics, and picture books truly help us bring more than just reading into our day.

Not sure what books to use with your upper elementary students? Grab this FREE list of my favorites with the skills that we focus on for each book! 

Interactive read-alouds have the power to transform upper elementary classrooms by fostering comprehension skills, expanding vocabulary, nurturing a love for reading, developing communication abilities, and promoting social-emotional growth. By implementing this instructional strategy effectively, teachers can engage students in meaningful conversations, create memorable reading experiences, and equip them with the necessary skills to become lifelong learners. As educators, let us embrace the power of interactive read-alouds to inspire, motivate, and empower our upper elementary students on their educational journey.

Looking for more read-aloud companions?
Look HERE!

IRA teaching tips and strategies

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IRA teacher tips for effective use

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5 Tips for Teaching Figurative Language for Upper Elementary

5 Tips for Teaching Figurative Language to 3rd 4th 5th Graders

I love teaching figurative language! 

I love teaching all different forms of figurative language, even ones that are not “addressed” in the grade level standards. Teaching students about the different forms of figurative language helps students both as readers and writers. Simply put, when students understand all the nuances of figurative language, they are better able to comprehend as readers and craft stories as writers.

While I love figurative language, I know that there is only so much time in a day! Once figurative language has been introduced, it is easy to come back to frequently and naturally as you read aloud books that are filled with amazing examples!

In addition to pulling out examples from the books you read, these quick tips will help you and your upper elementary students dive deep into figurative language.


1. Create a Reference Bulletin Board Display 

Figurative Language Bulletin Board for the Classroom

Help students see different forms of figurative language visually by creating a bulletin board or chart paper display and leaving it up all year long as a reference tool. Having a dedicated area to showcase different forms of figurative language is helpful to refer to when examples come up in the books that you read. It is also inspirational and helpful to students as writers to refer to when writing and revising their written pieces.

Teacher Tip: Don't wait to hang up a figurative language display until after you teach it! Having a display ignites student curiosity and interest, helping them to learn at a deeper level, even independently!

2. Reading as Writers

Creative Figurative Language Idea for the Classroom

When we learn about figurative language, we use the term “reading as writers” to help us focus on finding figurative language in the books that we read. As readers, we can better understand the author's language and message using figurative language. As writers, we can create stories that will hold our readers' attention. 

We use these "Frequent Figurative Language" punch cards to find different examples of figurative language as we read. This holds students accountable as readers, and it also holds them accountable for now including that form of figurative language in their writing! It is a fun and easy way to help students engage with the texts that they read!

3. Hands On Figurative Language 

hyperbole activities for kids

Sorts are such a great "hands on" way to help students differentiate between the many different forms of figurative language that they learn about as readers and writers. To create a sort, simply write out different examples of figurative language that you found with students and have them sort them! 

You can have your students sort the examples based on what type of figurative language the example is, or you can focus on one form of figurative language. If you focus on one type of figurative language, have two headers for students to sort under. For example, if you are focusing on similes, your headers would be "similes" and "not similes." Sorts are great to use with any form of figurative language at any point during your figurative language unit and all year long!

Figurative language games are also always a hit with my students! The students love to play again and again and will always pull out these games during indoor recess and bus dismissal time! Grab print and go figurative language games in THIS SET.

Teacher Tip: Try this FREE hands-on activity to get kids giggling and learning about alliteration and tongue twisters at the same time!

4. Have High Expectations

Helping Kids Write with Figurative Language

This is a simple tip but very powerful. Have high expectations of your students, both as readers and writers, when it comes to figurative language. Hold them accountable for including different forms of figurative language in their writing pieces. Try giving them specific goals before they write, like "Be sure to include two similes in your writing today." You can also give them task specific editing  and revising tasks, like, "As you revise your writing today, find a spot to add a metaphor." These specific and direct task holds students accountable, and they will work to complete the challenge!

Another way to hold students accountable for including figurative language in their writing is by having figurative language student author shares. These can be quick shares. Students select only one portion of their writing to share with the class. The class listens for their example of figurative language, identifying it in the writing and stating which form of figurative language it is. Go one step further and have the students explain what they visualized as they heard that form of figurative language.

Teacher Tip: If you use a writing checklist, include figurative language on the checklist as an extra reminder. Including a variety of figurative language in their writing is not out of reach for students, they can do it! 

5.  Picture Book Read Alouds

Picture Books that have Figurative Language for Kids

If you are an upper elementary teacher, you probably read all different chapter books throughout the year. And yes, chapter books have figurative language woven throughout, I have found that picture books with illustrations offer that visual support that students need to help them make sense of tricky figurative language examples!

Need some ideas for read-alouds to help you focus on figurative language? Try this list! (list coming soon!)

When you teach figurative language to your upper elementary students, be sure to present it as an important part of BOTH their reading and writing lives. The more they find and discuss figurative language in the books that they read, the more they will include it in the stories that they write! Try these tips to help students truly understand, differentiate, and use figurative language!

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Idiom Figurative Language Game for Upper Elementary Kids

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5 Tips for Teaching Figurative Language to 3rd 4th 5th Graders

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)

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