7 Interactive Read Aloud Tips for Success with Upper Elementary

7 Interactive Read Alouds Tips for Success

Thinking about getting started with interactive read alouds in your classroom? They are a must! Interactive read-alouds are a valuable way for teachers to engage students in meaningful discussions and promote comprehension skills.

So what is an interactive read-aloud?

An interactive read-aloud is a dynamic and purposeful reading activity that engages students in high-quality literature. During an interactive read-aloud, the students are actively involved in the reading process. This approach goes beyond a simple read-aloud; it encourages students to think critically, ask questions, make connections, and discuss the content. Pausing at strategic points to pose discussion questions, explore vocabulary, and model reading comprehension strategies is an important part of the interactive read-aloud experience. 

I love using interactive read-alouds because they promote a deeper understanding of the text, provide models for students to engage with their own texts as they independently read, and foster a love of reading. 

Want to get started using interactive read-alouds in YOUR upper elementary classroom? These seven must-try tips will help you get started!

1. Choose Age-Appropriate and Engaging Text

This first step is so important! Be sure to select books or texts that are appropriate for your students' age and reading level and captivating and relevant to their interests. Engaging texts are more likely to hold their attention and spark meaningful discussions.

Picture Books and chapter books both make amazing interactive read-alouds for students. You can select fiction, nonfiction, and even poetry picture books. Since picture books are much shorter than chapter books, they are my go-to. 

Not sure where to find appropriate picture books for upper elementary? I have some lists of favorites that you and your students will love!

 ➡️Rather start interactive read alouds with a chapter book? These chapter books are always class favorites!

    chapter books for upper elementary read alouds

    2. Use the Voices and Make the Sound Effects

    The best part about the read alouds are different voices and sound effects that you can use to not only hook students, but to show them what fluent reading sounds like! I love to have a box of props next to my read aloud chair that I can use to help me as I read. Items I include are bells, clapping hands, and a rain shaker or shaker filled with rice. But, you do not need anything fancy! Just your voice, hands, and feet do the trick to bringing the read aloud to life. And yes, if there are silly voices and singing going on in the story, do them! You will make your students smile and love reading.

    3. Revisit the Book Again and Again

    Yes, I am going to say it again! Picture books should be read again and again and again!

    We read picture books in my classroom multiple times, each time with a different purpose. It does NOT get boring. The kids know we are rereading it with a different lens each time, so their thoughts and discussions change. Plus, since they already know the story, their reflections are more meaningful and are often filled with connections.

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

    • focus on the skill or objective of your read aloud 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

    ➡️See how I use one read-aloud picture book in many different ways right HERE.

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Grab this FREE guide with my favorite picture books for interactive read- alouds! 

    It includes several different topics that you can use for each book, allowing you to read and re-read each book over and over again.

    free guide for interactive read aloud book suggestions

    4. Plan Ahead and Annotate the Text

    Before the read-aloud, read the text in advance and annotate it with key points, questions, and discussion prompts. This will help you guide the conversation and highlight important themes, vocabulary, or literary devices that you want to focus on.

    Prior to reading aloud, I also create an interactive anchor chart that will be used during the reading. I do not always do this for all read-alouds. However, I have the chart ready to go for more challenging concepts that I will bring up and teach during and after the read-aloud. This works perfectly for topics like making predictions, making inferences, and understanding character traits.

    When annotating or prepping questions ahead of time, I make sure to have questions for each level of Bloom's taxonomy. Using sticky notes is a great way to do this! Especially because you can use those sticky notes again by leaving them on the pages, ready to go for next year!

    prepping for interactive read aloud annotation questions

    5. Encourage Active Participation

    Using interactive read-alouds helps you to foster an interactive atmosphere by encouraging students to participate actively. As you read, frequently stop and ask the predetermined open-ended questions, ask for predictions, and invite students to share their thoughts, feelings, and connections to the text. Use prompts like, What do you think will happen next? or How would you have reacted in this situation?

    Giving students a specific read-aloud buddy or partner sets up the expectation of who they will be speaking to during the read-aloud. As time goes on, students build trust and relationships with their read-aloud buddies, making their conversations deeper and more meaningful.

    Keep the conversation going between your students and their partners by creating an accountability bulletin board that provides appropriate discussion stems that can be used for any read-aloud! These work wonders in my classroom and truly help my students discuss literature in meaningful ways. 

    questions for students for Interactive Read Alouds

    6. Model Comprehension Strategies

    While reading, model effective comprehension strategies such as making predictions, visualizing, making inferences, and asking questions. Show students how skilled readers think critically about the text and how these strategies enhance understanding. The more you show them, the more they will carry out those strategies as they read independently

    7. Build Classroom Community

    The best part of using interactive read alouds in your classroom is that it builds classroom community! 

    Kids, even our big kids, love to gather as a class and get cozy listening to the soothing sounds of their teacher reading aloud. Use your read-aloud time as a way to remind, practice, and instill the idea that your classroom is a safe and respectful space where students should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. Emphasize that there are no wrong answers and that listening to and respecting others' viewpoints is essential during the discussion.  Reading aloud to the whole class provides a sense of togetherness and allows true community bonding to take place!

    Incorporating interactive read-alouds in upper elementary classrooms can transform reading sessions into thought provoking and enjoyable learning experiences, enhancing both literacy skills and a love for reading. While these tips will get you started, remember to tailor your approach to your students' specific needs and interests while keeping the conversation lively and engaging.

    Looking for more read-aloud companions?
    Look HERE!

    interactive read aloud book ideas for upper elementary

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    7 Interactive Read Alouds Tips for Success

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    Fall Activities for Kids - 5 Engaging Ideas for Upper Elementary

    Fall Lesson Ideas for 3rd 4th 5th Grade Students

    There is nothing more exciting for students, even our upper elementary students, than the change of seasons! 

    That is why welcoming the season of fall into my classroom is a must!

    Our big kids still love learning about the seasons, holidays, and what is happening outside of the classroom. Infusing seasonal themes and topics with content and standards you already have to teach will ignite engagement and increase student participation.

    Bringing the seasons into the classroom goes beyond a quick fall craft to display. Using seasonal activities does not mean you have to give up rigor, critical thinking, or grade-level standards.

    Instead, it is the opposite!

    When you use seasonally themed activities to enhance tasks you already have to do in the classroom, you will notice:

    • an increase in student interest and motivation
    • an increase in student participation
    • an increase in the quality of student discourse
    • students making connections

    Does this sound too good to be true? It is not!

    You and your students can reap the benefits from seasonal learning this fall with these simple yet meaningful tips to welcome the season of fall into your upper elementary classroom.

    1. Create a Fall Environment with Purposeful Decor

    Fall Bulletin Board 3rd 4th 5th Grade SEL Kindness

    Transform your classroom into a cozy, inviting, fall-themed space using meaningful decor like student work and fall-themed kindness posters. Displaying student work is highly motivating for students. It also provides a deadline for students, helping them complete their fall writing pieces on time! 

    I love to use student fall-themed writing projects to decorate the walls of my classroom. When displaying student writing, be sure to have students create colorful illustrations to accompany their writing. 

    Want to display YOUR students' amazing writing? Try these writing projects:

    No matter the season, I always display inspirational kindness posters like these. I love using simple fall kindness posters with a positive message to display all season long!  And since they are NOT holiday-specific, it is inclusive for all students in your classroom!

    Want to add a touch of fall to your classroom with decor? You will love these FALL GOODIES!

    2. Read a Fall Themed Picture Book

    fall read alouds for 3rd 4th 5th grade

    If you know me, you know I LOVE read alouds! I truly can find a read-aloud for every holiday, season, special event, historical moment, or topic that needs to be addressed in the classroom. Display autumn-themed picture books, poetry, and nonfiction books about leaves and pumpkins around your room. This not only serves as a way to engage and motivate students to read, but it also adds a pop of color and fall decor to your room!

    You can use picture books to engage students throughout the season, changing focus each month. It is a great way to weave in different reading and writing standards and serve as mentor texts for your ELA lessons.

    Read about my favorite read-alouds for each part of the fall season:

    Upper elementary students love read-alouds. Use the above books during your interactive read-aloud time to help enrich students' day with valuable modeling of what readers do as they read!

    3. Learn Through Themes

    Fall themed activities for kids Johnny Appleseed

    Infuse your curriculum with fall-themed lessons and activities! So many seasonal topics and fun holidays during fall relate to the standards you already need to teach, making it easy to get creative with fall themes. Some of my favorites include:

    By simply using fall topics during reading, your students will be more engaged and make connections to what is happening outside the classroom...all while  increasing their reading comprehension skills.

    4.  Take Learning Outside

    Fall Bulletin Board 3rd 4th 5th Grade

    Take advantage of the pleasant fall weather by getting outside with your students! Organize nature walks to observe and collect fall leaves, acorns, and pinecones. Use these items for art projects like leaf rubbings or science investigations.

    One writing activity I love to do with students each fall is going on an autumn walk! As we walk, we notice and make observations using our five senses. Students record their observations and use them to create a descriptive writing piece about a fall setting. After writing, students create a colorful fall setting illustration to match. These make an adorable bulletin board that you can leave up all season long!

    The best part about doing this activity in the fall is that the descriptive writing skills that the students learn during this project carry over into future writing pieces that they create! 

    Grab a free fall activity, perfect for outdoor exploration this fall!

    5. Sprinkle in the Fun

    Fall Fun Ideas for Kids

    Who doesn't love to have fun, especially in the fall? Fall is a time to have fun and enjoy the changing leaves, weather, and season! I love to infuse meaningful coloring activities to practice skills and keep students critically thinking.

    These coloring activities are perfect to use as morning work, indoor recess tasks, end-of-day calm down, centers, sub work, or any way YOU want! Try these...

    By incorporating these tips, you can create a warm and inviting learning environment that not only welcomes the season of fall but also provides opportunities for students to explore and appreciate the unique aspects of this time of year. These ideas will increase student motivation, participation, and learning. Happy fall!

    You will also love reading:

    Check out my favorite fall activities HERE


    Fall Reading Activities for Kids

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    Fall autumn lesson ideas for 3rd 4th 5th grade students

    *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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