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Playdough Narration for Read-alouds….part 2

A couple of months ago, I posted about how we use playdough during our read-aloud time. If my boys’ hands are busy, their comprehension drastically improves! I know. I don’t understand it either. But, it is true for my boys. When I started it in June, we did it primarily during our “extra” read-alouds. But, recently, I have started using this comprehension strategy with our main history and science. While I am reading to them, they are creating anything that they would like……that relates to what I am reading about. Okay….so a few days ago my little man created a dog while we were reading about Egypt. Well…..surely there was a dog somewhere in Egypt, right? :)

Constantly, I am amazed by how much my boys are listening….when I think they aren’t! This activity allows them to stay active while helping me know that they are receiving what they need to learn.


A few helpful tips…..

When the playdough is all one color…….they won’t fight. (as much)

When you don’t allow them to use playdough tools such as rolling pins and cookie cutters…….they won’t fight. (as much) In our house…..they get playdough….and only playdough.

I don’t tell them what to make! I just start reading.


If you didn’t try playdough narration the last time I posted…..won’t you reconsider? I bet you will be surprised! If you want to make your own playdough, check out my recipe.

Here are their most recent creations……while I was reading to them about Ancient Egypt…..


We were reading that the Egyptians believed that their heart would be weighed in the afterlife. If it was too heavy with sin, they thought that a monster would come and gobble it up. My middle son made a scale with a heart on it. Next to the scale is the monster….ready to consume the sinful organ.

Of course…..we can’t read about Egypt without building a pyramid! He even made little individual bricks!

This is four pyramids ( in the background) and a sphinx (in the front) guarding the pyramids. He remembered that one of the pyramids (The Great Pyramid) was larger than the others, so he made one large one and three smaller ones.

This is a pharaoh being prepared as a mummy….on top of his linen cloths. Can you see how he crossed his arms over his chest! I was impressed!


Now the mummy is wrapped in his linen cloths.

Have you ever done narration with playdough?

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Reading Under A Tree

Summer Bucket List- Item #2: As a family, enjoy a great book.


What is a summer break without a great book? While my boys and I read books during the entire school year, our summer choices are always special to us because they aren’t related to any curriculum, unit study, or school project. They are for enjoyment. As I mentioned in my post about using play-do for increasing reading comprehension, our current read-aloud is Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

We are hooked. In this book, a young boy and his hound dogs roam the Ozarks in search of sly raccoons. During his adventures, Billy and his dogs encounter mountain lions, ghost coons, blizzards, and more.

Each time I finish a chapter, my boys explode in an uproar of “No!” “Read one more chapter!” “More, more!” and “Why does it always stop at the exciting parts?”

When I was in school, I remember this book being one of my favorites. While I remembered the main storyline, the intricate details had left my memory. If my boys could time-warp themselves into a book, this would be their choice. Coon dogs, ringtails, late-night chases under a moonlit sky………. What young man can resist those adventures? Not mine. They love it. (and Mom does, too!)

Our only problem?

We can’t stop reading!

So…..our bucket list item for today? Finish Where the Red Fern Grows!

Our Favorite Reading Spot

Shhh….come a little closer….I’m going to whisper a secret in your ear…….my boys and I have a secret reading nook. Don’t tell anyone where it is……..


This is it…..our favorite reading spot! Tucked away in the corner of a nearby park, we found our arbor friend. He has listened to many of our literary adventures! While lounging next to it’s massive trunk, my 8yo asked, “Do you think this tree is famous?” Only in our hearts, son…..

Usually, we have a picnic lunch at the base of our friend.

At some point during the read-aloud, a boy will creep into the tree branches. Honestly, they listen as well (or better) while in the tree!

Are read-alouds on your summer bucket list? What are your favorites?


summerbucketlist2 Summer Bucket List


Remember to check out some other summer bucket lists from my friends below……..

Honey @ Sunflower Schoolhouse

Joy @ My Home in the Smokies

Tonya @ The Traveling Praters

Jennifer & Melissa @ Sisters ‘n Cloth

Tara @ Feels Like Home Blog

Lisa @ Creativlei

Nancy @ Proverbs 31 Jewels

Kelli @ Adventurez in Childrearing

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Playdough and Read-alouds…..a Strategy for Increasing Comprehension

While chatting with a fellow homeschooling friend, the topic of read-alouds came up.  We began discussing ways that we have helped our kids listen while we were reading to them.  She gave me a new twist on an old idea.  It works great!   Try it out!Playdough While You Read

Sometimes, I like to keep my kids’ hands busy while I read to them.   If it is a short read, then they will just sit and listen.  But, for longer periods, I will provide an activity that will keep them listening without distracting everyone else.  In the past, I have used playdough.  I just hand them a chunk of dough and tell them to create something.  (We don’t allow cookie cutters, rolling pins, or anything else at this time.  Just the dough.  Trust me. Instead of quality reading time, you will have a battle over play-do tools!)

When I told my friend about the playdough, she agreed.  But, she added a twist.  She tells her kids to create part of the story…..not just anything they want to create.  Their creation becomes proof that they have been listening!  Every once in awhile she stops and asks them, “What are you making and how does it relate to our story?”  Great idea!

Our Current Read-Aloud 

Recently, we began reading Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.  In my childhood, this was one of my favorite books!  While studying raccoons in our Apologia Land Animals science book, we learned about the relationship between raccoons and rabies.   I decided that this was the perfect time to read Where the Red Fern Grows!

Our First Experience

While reading the first chapter of the book, these are my boys’ creations.   I did not give them any ideas.  I just read.

At the beginning of the chapter, a man finds an old hound dog in the middle of a dogfight. This is my 5 year old’s depiction of the pooch.

After taking the dog home, the man notices a collar with the name “Buddy” written in child-like handwriting.

The man realizes that Buddy is on a journey back to his owner. After feeding and caring for him, the man opens the gate so the dog can continue on his journey home. The dog walked east. Because of this, my son decided to make a compass rose. Notice the arrow pointing east! Wow……way to impress your mama, son!

A Homemade Playdough Recipe

4 cups of flour

1 cup of salt

4 cups water

4 tablespoons of oil

1/2 cup of cream of tartar (buy it in bulk or you will spend a fortune!)

food coloring

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan.  Cook and stir over low/medium heat until playdough is completely formed and no longer sticky.  Allow to cool before storing in an air-tight container or ziplock bag.

Variation:  Instead of food coloring, add one package of unsweetened powdered Kool-aid to your playdough.  It will be the color of the Kool-aid.

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