Read Along Activity

Cute read-along activity for the "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" series of books!

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My kids love being read to – and they love when they have fun activities to accompany the story! This week I brought an idea to life that I remember seeing a long time ago. This activity accompanies the book There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly by Lucille Colandro. Colandro has an entire series of children’s books themed around “There was an old Lady who Swallowed a (fill in the blank)” and this activity will work for every book!

This read-along activity is low-cost and provides endless opportunities for learning and fun! Click To Tweet

What you need

Cute read-along activity for the "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" series of books!
You may not have an empty syrup bottle lying around – but, that is what makes this activity so cute!
Better add Mrs. Butter-worth syrup & lots of waffles to the grocery list! #EveryMomDay Click To Tweet

What you need to do

Assemble your words. You will want to create a word for each item the old lady swallows. My book had the list on the back of the book (which made it easy!). How you do this may depend on the age of your children. You could have an older child sound the animals out and spell them by stringing the beads on the pipe cleaners. A preschool child can look for the letters you tell her to find and help string them. A toddler could string the beads you provide them or you could create them yourself!  After stringing your beads on, twist at the end and cut off the excess pipe cleaner with scissors.

Cute read-along activity for the "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" series of books!

Read & Enjoy. When your words are all made it’s time to read and enjoy! Give your child(ren) the “Old Woman” (aka the Mrs. Butter-worth syrup container) and begin to read the book. Each time the old woman swallows an item, have your child drop that word into the woman’s belly! Adjust the activity for your child’s skills and abilities. Whether they are looking for the word themselves, sounding out the first letter, identifying colors (we used a different color for each word) or dropping the word you provide them.

Cute read-along activity for the "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" series of books!

What it teaches

  • Fine motor skills. Kids will work on their fine motor skills as they assemble the words, stringing the letter beads onto the pipe cleaners. They will also work on similar skills as they pick up each word and drop them into the Old Lady’s belly!
  • Taking turns. Kids will practice patience when participating in a group setting. Even 1:1, children will practice patience and turn taking between reading/listening and dropping the word into the bottle.
  • Listening. This activity requires kids to pay close attention to which object is being swallowed, encouraging active listening skills.
  • Letter/word recognition. Based on your child’s age and development, they will work on letter/sound/word recognition.

Cute read-along activity for the "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" series of books!

What else you can do

  • Use a unique color for each word to work on color recognition
  • Count the letters in each word
  • Count the beads on each strip (if you used extra beads like I did)
  • Make a unique set of words for multiple kids and pass the bottle around
  • Make a unique set of words for each book in the series
  • Create your own silly things for the Old Woman to swallow!
  • Let the kids play with the leftover supplies! My 2 year old enjoyed stringing random letters on and off of pipe cleaners, whereas my 5 year old liked creating the alphabet (and her name) on her pipe cleaner. My 8 year old enjoyed creating silly/random words and phrases. My 5 year old also enjoyed creating her name by shaping 1-2 pipe cleaners into each letter of her name.

Share any tips or ideas for customizing this idea in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “Read Along Activity

  1. This was very helpful and easy to follow along. Great pictures! You are very creative for coming up with this! This may be a silly question but where would I buy the materials needed to do this?

    1. You could find everything you need on Amazon and I have linked to a couple examples at the end of the article. You could also find the supplies at an arts & crafts store like JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore or Michaels. Places with craft sections like Walmart may even have the beads and pipe cleaners. 🙂

  2. this is great! I have a number of friends who work with children and this would be a great project for them to work on fine motor skills & creativity 🙂

  3. I love these books and did not realize there were so many different ones. Rubys kindergarten teacher has a Old Woman Who Swallows A… doll. It is the coolest way to read the books.

    1. I want to get all of the books and make a set of the words for our old lady to “eat” for each book! It’d be a quick and easy teachers gift too if you know she has the books already!

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