October 01, 2020

Becky Hill

4 Ways To Incorporate Play During Reading

Topics: Learning Through Play

Child with Blocks

Do you have children who zone out or have trouble paying attention during reading sessions? When you ask direct comprehension questions, are the answers wrong? It can be frustrating.

Child with Blocks

I recently worked with a group of children, and I decided to use building toys while telling the story. The lesson suggested using a number from the story to complete a series of tasks. For example, 7 was significant in the story. Therefore, the children would perform a series of 7 tasks. I decided to emphasize a number in the story in a different way. Twelve was also a significant number in the story I told. I brought different building toys from home and instructed the children to pick out 12 of one type of building toy. While I read the story, the children built anything they wanted. I asked questions frequently during the story to make sure they were paying attention. The children comprehended the story and had a blast at the same time! The creations were VERY imaginative! Since I brought 4 different kinds of building toys, I had the children rotate around the table at a stopping point in the lesson. Each child had an opportunity to play with different kinds of building toys during the lesson.



Brainflakes are small enough to fit in a bag if you travel outside of your home to teach. The children I worked with recently really enjoyed these! There are so many creative ideas that you can do with these. The children can build something they hear in the story. A special number mentioned in the story can be emphasized. For example, pick out 20 pieces and create something. A color from a story can be emphasized. A teacher can emphasize building something with each color represented. A rule can be made where the same color pieces cannot touch. The ideas are endless. Let your creativity come to life!


ZoobsZoobs were one of my son’s favorite building toys when he was little. There is also a boardgame that was produced with this building toy.

Zoobs are also small enough to fit into a bag if you travel outside of your home to teach. These toys snap together. As a story is read, the children can build. The ideas are endless. The children could use these to build a scene in the story.


Attribute BlocksThe attribute blocks I used recently were a little bit different from the picture. Mine had slots where the pieces fit together, thus building an animal or a structure.

These are also small enough to fit inside a bag if you teach outside of your home. These also have unique possibilities. According to my instruction guide, children can pick out shapes that have 2 differences, e.g., size and color. Children can also make patterns, e.g., ABAB, meaning blue, yellow, blue, yellow. (Patterns have endless possibilities. Patterns can be simple as mentioned, or patterns can become very intricate and difficult. An example would be ABCDABCDEABCDFABCDG, meaning red, yellow, blue, green, red, yellow, blue, green, purple, red, yellow, blue green, black, red, yellow, blue, green, white. The colors are not significant. Any color can be assigned to a letter, as long as the colors and letters are consistent.) Children can guess each other’s pattern. Children can make figures having other children guess what figure was made.

Toys with shapes are awesome because shapes are covered in math classes. Encouraging early geometry skills are a win win! Being able to flip those figures in different directions making different pictures is also a win win!


Bristle Blocks

My kids loved these blocks when they were little! As seen in the picture, children can build all kinds of different wonderful creations with these! As those stories are read, if a truck is mentioned, a child can build a truck quite easily with these.

These are a little bigger than the building blocks mentioned earlier. These are also very soft for little hands. They fit together very easily and pull apart very easily.


In today’s world, there are so many creative ways to make learning fun and interesting. There are so many possibilities in toy stores and thrift stores that are not mentioned in this article.

There is no reason for children to be bored or uninterested. Childhood should be full of wonderful, magical, and exciting adventures. Reading to children is a wonderful part of that magical childhood. If you have children who have a hard time listening, pull out those building toys to make reading adventures more fun!

I received a game in exchange for this blog post. All opinions expressed belong to me.

Author’s Bio

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 8.29.51 AMBecky Hill lives in Green River, Wyoming, with her husband of 29 years. She has 3 grown children and 2 grand dogs. Becky earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ouachita Baptist University, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1990. She earned a Biblical Studies Certificate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in Deerfield, Illinois, in 1993. Becky began homeschooling two of her children unexpectedly 13 years ago. Despite many challenges along the way, Becky creatively enabled both of her children to succeed. While her homeschooling adventures are over, she loves tutoring children and helping them to conquer subjects with no fear. Her specialty is mathematics. One of her favorite hobbies is creatively incorporating games into tutoring. The goal, she believes, is no tears, no fear, and a competent, confident, and happy child. 

A note from ThinkFun

At ThinkFun, we love it when learning and fun collide. It’s why we do what we do. Every game, puzzle and brainteaser we create is aimed at igniting a spark in a young mind. Still curious? Check us out on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram.

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