I LOVE to read. Growing up, I hid a book in my desk at school in case the lesson was boring. If there was a social gathering, I would find a quiet place to hide and read. If we were driving home late at night, I would read snippets of my book by lamp post (which, let me tell you, is pretty challenging). I REALLY want my kids to love reading too. Unfortunately, reading for reading’s sake is not yet a motivator for them. I made this fun reading log train as a way to encourage them to get some more books under their belts.
Really, this reading log is primarily for my 7 year old. He is already a decent reader, but at any given moment, he can think of 100 things he’d rather do than read. I don’t blame him. Life is fun, especially when you’re 7. However, he’s not going to get to the really amazing books of childhood until he’s reading the books at his level more fluidly. That’s going to take some practice.
This “reading log” is motivating, because each time he reads a book, his train gets longer. It’s only been a week, but so far, it seems to be working. It’s also great, because my 5 year old, who is just starting to sound out simple words, is motivated to keep up with her brother. Unfortunately, while there are lots of great books at the library for her big brother, there’s not much available that she can read in a short period of time.
I fully support immediate gratification when encouraging young readers. For someone who is just starting to sound out words, the Tug the Pup series is wonderful, because each book is so simple and short. Another good option is the series of free printable sight word and phonics books by The Measured Mom. (I’ve used hundreds of her resources with my preschool-aged kids.)
I wanted my toddler to feel included as well, so he has his own train too. Since he can’t read, I decided I’d put letters on his train as he mastered them. Unfortunately, he can’t keep up with the big kids. He’s got A and B down, but he still always says O for C. It’ll come. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to mind having a shorter train. I’ve been adding a letter or two to his train each day whether he’s reading them reliably or not. We spend a minute reviewing them whenever we add new letters.
Recommended Age Range: Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary
Time Required: ~30 minutes
Cost: Free printable
- paper for printing Reading Log Train template
- construction paper
- small picture of child’s face (optional, to put in the train windows)
Supplies & Tools:
- paper trimmer (optional, but convenient)
- 1″ circle hole punch (optional, but SUPER convenient)
- Print the Reading Log Train template.
- Decide where you want to place your train and which direction it will go so you know which train to use. We decided to place our trains on the wall going uphill by our stairs.
- Have your children color in the train facing the appropriate direction.
- Cut out a picture of your child’s face that is 1″ square. You can cut out and trace the square on the template page to make it easier.
- Glue the picture onto the window.
- Cut out the train.
- Next, cut out rectangles from the construction paper that are 2″ by 3″ (or whatever size you desire). If I only had one child, I might make different size train cars to show the complexity or level of difficulty of the book. Since I have 3 kids, I kept it simple by making them all the same size.
- Cut out 1″ circles. Initially, I cut them out by hand using the circle on the template page. However, I ended up buying this hole punch to make my life easier.
- Cut out little strips of paper to connect the trains. I used my paper trimmer to make a long, skinny 1/4″ strip. Then I cut 1″ long pieces using scissors.
- Gather all your train car pieces.
- Assemble your train cars! Initially, I let my kids glue on the wheels.
- Eventually, I just made a bunch myself assembly-line style.
- After your child reads a book, write it on a train car.
- Watch the train grow!
Click here for more Starting to Read activities for kids.
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