I’m sure you would have seen that in the classroom there are few things more captivating for children than a story full of adventure (and ideally, animals)!
Going beyond the written word, I’ve found that there are many fantastic engaging uses for online interactive stories – especially stories which are full of great characters and sounds to draw in even the least enthusiastic readers.
Today I’m going to show you some of my go-to interactive stories for my primary school students, and how I love to make the most of them…
How to use interactive stories in your classroom
I would suggest using online interactive stories once a week – leaving other times in the week for you as the teacher to read a novel as you likely do more often.
Many of the books read online can also later be found in the library, and children love finding them to check out – all helping build a love of reading from an early age.
Children can read along independently with the stories. Not only can they, but they will want to!
As part of reading rotations the children can choose a story and listen to it while they read along. This is particularly helpful for motivating reluctant readers. It also helps the children learn how to use expression and observe punctuation when reading out loud to others.
The story can be used as a whole class reading activity – focusing on the setting, characters and plot. Children can retell or sequence the events that took place in the story.
Some of these books have prepared follow up activities to go with each story.
Where can I find free interactive story resources?
Online stories I keep coming back to with my classes over the years are:
Rockfords Rock Opera
This is an online audio book which my classes have all adored (first four chapters of the read along story are free).
It brings real life situations to their attention, in this case looking after animals, because if we don’t it will lead them to become extinct.
You can read along with the story and access information about each character. There are plenty of follow up activities available on the site for the children to work on independently.
I have used this site before to extend my more able readers. They have then gone on to do independent research based on one of the animals that interested them.
A fantastic resource that is well worth signing up to.
Teachers are able to set books at the appropriate level for their students to read (and they can also access these at home), online running records and assessments can be done too.
There are plenty of fiction and non-fiction books to choose from which means there is something for everyone.
Books can be read online or printed out to be put in reading choice or browsing boxes in your classroom.
There are free samples and you are also able to have a free trial before signing up for a subscription – well worth it!
Roy the Zebra
A great resource, especially for reluctant readers.
I have used this for many children from ages 6 to 8.
There are free reading games, which are great for interactive whiteboards, and online guided stories that come complete with resources and lesson plans.
The songs are catchy and help reinforce learning. Activities can also be printed off and used in the children’s books.
This is a reading website, especially helpful for children who have Dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies.
There is a free trial available on this wonderful website that children can use to work on their reading, writing, spelling and typing.
Nessy Fingers is a fun way to learn to touch type which I have had set up on a couple of laptops in my class. I set up a roster in which the children have an allocated time to work on their touch typing.
There is also information available about dyslexia and a free online screening tool which you may like to use to gain further information about children who may be having reading challenges.
This website has numerous well known, well loved stories – read by famous actors.
The books are not only read aloud by these actors, but the illustrations are animated to keep the kids highly engaged in the story that is being told.
Included for each story is a customized downloadable teaching guide, to enable further discussion and related activities for your class.
Why are interactive stories useful in your classroom?
I love reading.
You probably do too.
It is a common trait in those who love to teach and those who love to learn.
Some families unfortunately do not fill their homes with books, or the concept that to read is to be curious and imaginative and every other type of journey that a story can take you on.
I believe passionately that using every method available to encourage a love of stories in children as early as possible is our responsibility as teachers.
What you and I can instill in young minds about books, reading, and the power of a story is linked very strongly to children’s exposure to captivating stories.
This is something we can bring into their lives every day as teachers – something which is particularly important for students who are struggling with reading or don’t understand the magic of a story yet.
If it is shown to them through a very accessible and engaging interactive audio book then so be it! It may be that all they need are funny and interesting characters reading the story to them, to then spark their imagination and build that world in their head.
From there we can add to this engagement with group reading and further individual reading activities and discussions to flesh this out more and more.
I’ve taught so many students over the years who just needed that extra push to make the jump from bored reader, to being excited about books and the magical stories they hold. This is a gift for a lifetime.
Over the last 14 years of teaching primary school children, I have gained an ever growing respect for the power of a good story to capture the attention of almost any child.
While certainly not something I would replace reading books with, using interactive stories as a powerfully engaging teaching tool is something I would not be without!