Reading Strategy Tip #2: Encourage Story-Telling Through Play

This is a series of posts about reading strategies I model and use with my own children–Luke, who just turned 4 years old, and Lilah, 29 months.  Hopefully some of these strategies will be helpful to you as well. 🙂

Reading Strategy Tip #2:
Encourage Story-Telling through Play

Get your kids involved in stories and story-telling, even when you’re not actually reading, by including it in their play.

I found this Play Doh set in the after-Christmas clearance at Target for ~$3.48.  

There are several different classic story sets available: The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood.  We gave Luke the Three Little Pigs set for his birthday and he played with it and retold the story over and over all morning.  

Other ways to include stories in play: 

  • storybook finger or hand puppets

  • storybook felt or magnet board pieces
    • you can buy commercially made sets or make your own
    • I’ve made my own storybook sets by printing and laminating pieces, then sticking Velcro (for flannel board use) or magnets (for magnet board) on the back
    • I’ve made my own felt/flannel boards by buying a piece of foam board and hot gluing felt to it.  I’ve made large ones and travel sized ones.  Very cheap to do!

  • storybook character figurines
    • You could even just print (and laminate!) story book characters for play or add them to a sensory box or along with play dough if you don’t have actual figurines!
  • dress-up clothes, costumes, and accessories so that kids can pretend to be storybook characters

  • build scenes
  • act out scenes
    • For example, walk around the house while reciting and acting out (with or without props) the book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  Hide a stuffed teddy bear in the “cave” to find.
  • sing songs (with actions) that tell stories
    • For example, Five Little Monkeys, nursery rhymes, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.


Teaching reading is my passion.  I taught reading in public school for 7 years: 5 years in a 5th grade classroom, and 2 years as a K-5 reading intervention specialist.  I have a master’s degree in Reading Education and hold National Board Certification in Reading/Language Arts: Early and Middle Childhood.  I also personally love to read. 🙂

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

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