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Reading with Expression: 5 Teaching Tips and a Free Printable

If you’re looking for some great ways to teach your child to read with expression, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to download a fun printable activity and then read our top five tips.

Let’s start with “Round Up the Sheep.” It’s a great way to start practicing expressive reading!

Download Round Up the Sheep

Sometimes the same words can take on a completely different meaning if you say them with a different expression. For example, if you’re afraid of cats, you would use a frightened voice to say, “Look! A cat!” But if you love cats, you would use a happy, excited voice to say, “Look, a cat!” This activity is a fun way to practice this concept.

Preparing the “Round Up the Sheep” Activity

  1. Download the “Round Up the Sheep” Activity.
  2. Print and cut out the sheep cards, following the instructions in the activity download.
  3. Place the cards in a pile with the sheep facing up.
  4. Now let’s practice reading with expression!

Play “Round Up the Sheep”

Have your child choose a card from the pile. The word printed above the sheep indicates the expression with which your child should read the sentence on the back of the card.

A child's hand holding a game piece

Now have your child flip the card over to read the sentence using the indicated expression.

The back of a game piece

Continue until all the cards have been read.

Game pieces on a table

5 More Ways to Teach Kids to Read with Expression

7 Ways to Make Spelling Logical - from All About Spelling

Have Fun with Emojis

Can you read this sentence—“I miss the smell of ham,” said Dan—like an angry emoji would? Download Fun with Emojis and have a ton of fun reading like an emoji in this somewhat “emotional” activity!

7 Ways to Make Spelling Logical - from All About Spelling

Model Expressive Reading

One of the very best ways to help your little robot improve his reading is to model expressive reading while reading aloud to your children. Need picture book ideas? We’ve got you covered! Download our Picture Book Library Lists.

Read Decodable Books

Decodable books like the ones used in All About Reading feature stories that flow easily and naturally, allowing beginning readers to read more smoothly and comprehend text more easily.

7 Ways to Make Spelling Logical - from All About Spelling

Use Buddy Reading

Also called partner reading or paired reading, buddy reading is a great way to model reading for your child, allowing him to hear and imitate expressive reading. Learn more in this Buddy Reading article.

7 Ways to Make Spelling Logical - from All About Spelling

Encourage Reading Fluency

Does your child read like a robot? This post is chock full of valuable tips that will help your child read with meaningful expression. Explore topics like decoding skills, reading vocabulary, phrasing, and character dialogue.

Have you discovered a great way to encourage expressive reading? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Angelina

says:

Great ideas through play approach. They enjoy the fun.

Stephanie knaus

says:

Every night, I sit and read a bed time story to my littles. They avsolutly love it when mom uses ” funny voices” and expression to read. My oldest tries really hard to do expressive reading, but she feels it’s not as fun as when mom does it. I think these activities will be a great tool in helping here learn how to read with emotion, and boost her confidence!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stephanie,
I love when little ones try to read with funny voices and good expression. It’s so cute and it means they understand the importance of it! This game and practice are all that your child will need.

Christina

says:

Thanks for so many fun ideas! Kids love anything you can turn into a game. This is no exception.

Meghan Taylor

says:

I love all of your activities to go along with the All About Reading lessons we are doing!

Crystal

says:

Great ideas here!

Kirti Chauhan

says:

Great can I download it for free?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, Kirti. The Round-Up the Sheep activity is free to download.

Maria Basilice

says:

This looks like a great tool!

Annette O'Donnell

says:

Wonderful ideas!

Liza Sanchez

says:

Very helpful for me and my daughter, I need more ideas and motivation.

Theresa

says:

I think my 6 year old will especially like the fun with Emojis. The sheep game sounds awesome. Putting feeling into reading is something that we work on as a whole family

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Theresa,
Working on reading with expression together as a family is great. Modeling expressive reading shows little ones how to do it themselves.

Dusti Brister

says:

Great ideas.

Melissa Diffenderfer

says:

This is so helpful! We just started using All About Spelling this year and love it!

Kelly

says:

Thank you so much for this. It will be very useful.

Jaime L. Hendrickson

says:

Your resources always make our homeschool days joyful!

Hollie

says:

Love this idea!

Renae B

says:

Thank you for this resource. I plan on using this for my son that is currently using AAR and my son that is finished with AAR. We have discussed recently how authors show the emotions of a character by choosing descriptive words rather than just using “said” when writing dialogue.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Discussions like this are so important for improving comprehension, Renae! Thanks for mentioning it.

Karen

says:

This is great. It’s hard for some kids to learn to read expressively

Caryn Gillette

says:

What a fun way to practice reading with expression. Books come to life when we can learn to do this well!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I agree, Caryn. Reading with expression is so important, but it is also quite fun!

Edith S

says:

Thanks so much for all your help and the printables. Your help is invaluable! 🙂

Catherine Hartel

says:

We love all of your resources. Thank you!

Kendra

says:

Looks like fun

Erin

says:

Thank you for all the free ideas and activities. My kids really enjoy them.

Becky K

says:

Love seeing all the ideas to incorporate.

Kimberly

says:

All of these series are wonderful.

Jen

says:

Great activities!!

Megan LoPiccolo

says:

Love all of the great ideas and activities that you share!!

Jennifer

says:

Such great ideas! I can’t wait to give them a try!!

Aubree Everly

says:

In our AAR program, we use Zippy to facilitate expressive reading. Without the addition of the puppet in ALL our homeschool lessons, we would have a much more difficult time with attention.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Aubree,
I love that adding the puppet to your lessons has been helpful with attention and learning! 😊

Kati

says:

I love this idea!!

Stephanie

says:

My kids absolutely love all the AAR and AAS activities, and this one will for sure get them excited, too. How fun!

Bertha

says:

Love love this curriculum❤

Melissa

says:

Great program!

Shelley Rimmer

says:

Love All About Spelling!

Erin

says:

These are great ideas! Can’t wait to try them!

Rose Harrington

says:

Love All About Spelling. It has helped us so much.. Great curriculum.

Sarah

says:

Always looking for fun ways to teach. Thanks!

Kuhu

says:

Great idea!

Ashley

says:

I always like your suggestions!

Ayan

says:

We are currently doing number 3. She loves reading words that have an ! Mark at the end. She gets so excited. Love your other ideas as well.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ayan,
This made me smile, thinking of one of my sons who also used to get so enthusiastic about exclamation points. 😊

Alyssa Bouwman

says:

Great idea!

Jill

says:

Good ideas

Sarah Raineri

says:

Great Idea!

Lori

says:

Can’t wait to play this with my students!

Kathleen

says:

All About Reading has made learning to read a joyful experience in our homeschool! Thank you for all the tips and helpful printables! And thank you for the reminder to keep the delight central in the experience!

Alecia

says:

Thank you so much for the printable and the tips!! Love this!!

Kristy

says:

Hoping to start homeschooling this fall

Stacy Willis

says:

I have been using AAR with both my 7 and 5 year old. I’m amazed at how well the 5 year old is reading and how my 7 year old knows how to decode words. Love this program

Mariann

says:

My class needs this resource! Thank you for sharing it!

Jill

says:

That is hilarious! What a fun activity.

Bethany

says:

Thank you for all the feee additional tools to help our kids be successful readers!

Kory

says:

Love this idea!

Mary Roberts

says:

I’m definitely going to download Round The Sheep.

Carri Seifert

says:

Love this! So much fun watching me child do this! We have a great time

Lisa

says:

Blessings!

Rachel V.

says:

Good stuff… excited to try!

Adriana

says:

Great suggestions!
Your decodable books are lovely!

Courtney

says:

Love this!

Heidi

says:

Thanks for all the great tips and ideas!

Amy

says:

Great ideas! Thanks!

Tamara A

says:

The more we read, the more expression that gets learned :). My oldest reads with expression good these days. My current learning to read more fluently guy needs expression … this looks like a fun activity and the emoji one too!

Katrina Angele

says:

Another fun game suggestion from you guys. We always have fun with these.

Jamie

says:

Great tips.

Michelle Givler

says:

Love this idea!

Jessica

says:

Thank so much for all your advice and resources!

Kelly

says:

I can’t wait to try out these activities! Thank you!

Beth

says:

Great resources!

Nina

says:

Thank you for this meaningful expression cards. I know I am going to enjoy this activity with my child.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Nina. I hope you have a lot of fun with this activity!

Allie G

says:

Great tips!

Lacy

says:

So glad I found this site!

Ashlie Finney

says:

I’m so excited to start using this for my son! We are in the beginning stages of reading and all of your tips and printables are extremely helpful. Thank you for the program you have created.

kelli parker becton

says:

These are great tips! Thank you

Andrea Smith

says:

We had fun with these! My son’s reading can be a bit robotic. This is very helpful information.

Grace Njoku

says:

Thanks for this. I got the emoji one and was wondering what else I could do. Thanks again.

Patricia Tharp

says:

Looks like fun!

Melissa Rogghe

says:

Awesome!!

Sally Chancellor

says:

This looks like fun, thanks for sharing!

Angie

says:

Love everything about these books and especially all the downloads! Thank you!

Cristina Hinton

says:

Thank you for your ministry in helping others.

Jamie o

says:

These look amazing!

Brenda M Gonzalez

says:

Thanks for this “Reading with Expression” freebie! Also, exited about the AAS giveaway! We are in the middle of Level 2 and will choose Level 3, if we win!

Courtney

says:

Thank you for such a great resource! I can’t wait to use it with my kids!

Teresa

says:

I love that this program is Orton-Gillingham based. It makes it such a great resources for all kids and adults, even those who may have language processing challenges. Many people do suffer from these challenges but do not know it. We look forward to using the program and experiencing all the benefits it has to offer!!

Holly

says:

Thank you SO much for doing this!!! Having 5 kids, every little bit helps. Fingers x’d

Mark

says:

Love the games! My grandson enjoys playing (and learning – even though he doesn’t realize this is happening as he plays!)

Deborah J

says:

Looks like fun! I’m sure my kids would enjoy it!

Vicki

says:

These ideas are great! I can see sharing these with many of my students, as they are good at decoding and reading, but expression is not there yet. The picture book list gives a great list for my parents to have for resources.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Vicki,
Using the picture book list as a resource to send home for parents is a great idea! Thanks for mentioning it.

Have lots of fun reading with expression with your students!

Holly

says:

We love AAR & AAS!!

Ivey Ireland

says:

Great resource!

Ging G

says:

My daughters love AAR. Their reading has improved quickly. Wanting to start AAS too.

Chelsea

says:

Thank you for the fun ways you help us teach our kids to read!

Candace Schuppli

says:

What a great activity! Can’t wait to try it out! Thank you so much

Eileen Wisler

says:

Great tips!

Terese Stopka

says:

Love all the tips!

Emma

says:

This is awesome! I cant wait to try it!

Florita

says:

Thank you. I know my kiddos will enjoy this activity.

makelesi

says:

very interesting and encouraging to start now these techniques with my child reading.. thank you

Amy

says:

Love the sheep cards!

Kryste Herring

says:

Oh, I can’t wait to try this and will be checking out the 5 more ways also! My son sounds like the “Dry Eye Guy” from the commercials….monotone, no expression.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kryste,
One of my sons read in a flat monotone, and it played havoc with is comprehension. No wonder too, as listening to him I couldn’t comprehend very well either. Expression is important for understanding what is being read.

The activity and tips in this blog post should make a difference. One further idea to try is a twist on buddy reading called “echo reading.” You read a few sentences with full expression, and then your child reads the same sentences, matching your expression as closely as possible. Discuss how punctuation makes a difference in expression too. For example, we make our words go up in pitch at the end of a question or we read with strong emotion when there is an exclamation point.

Let me know how it goes. With a few minutes of work daily on expression, I would expect to hear him try to spontaneously, without prompting, read with expression within a couple of weeks.

Jessica

says:

I look forward to using the sheep and emojis cards with my kids, thank you!

Tricia

says:

These are such helpful ideas! That sheep printable is too cute and I am looking forward to using it with my kiddo!

Tara

says:

This is a fun idea, my kids always love the AAR activities in the lessons, they will love getting this “extra” activity :-)

Melissa

says:

Thanks to you my children love spelling!

Candice

says:

Your posts are always so insightful and a huge help. Thank you!

Stephanie

says:

I think graphic novels are great for this too. There are several designed for early readers! My daughter loves using voices and expression for the characters.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hadn’t thought of graphic novels, but now that you mention it I agree, Stephanie! They would be a great resource to practice reading with expression. Thanks for the tip!

Dontie Kidwell

says:

What a fun game to not only learn expression while reading, but the importance of how the audience hears what comes out of one’s mouth! I know my boys will love doing this activity! Thank you!

Alyssa

says:

I really appreciate your blog and the tips you share. My oldest homeschool son is significantly behind in reading, and I am very grateful for the progress we’ve been making since we started using both the reading and the spelling curriculums. I would LOVE to see writing and grammar curriculums from you! And thank you for the resources for reading with expression. I appreciate how fun and encouraging all of your resources are for the kids!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Alyssa,
I am so pleased to hear that All About Reading and All About Spelling are working out so well for you and your son! And while we don’t plan to offer a writing or grammar curriculum, we can offer you some program suggestions to look into when he is ready. Let me know.

Angela Martin

says:

Would live to try this for my three ESL students. We are adopting from Mexico

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angela,
Congratulations! How exciting for your family.

I think you may find our Real Moms, Real Kids: English Language Learners blog post helpful, as it discusses one mother’s experience using All About Reading and All About Spelling with her adopted children.

Please let me know if you have questions or need anything.

Angie

says:

I am SO excited to start this new curriculum with my daughter! I love this approach and think she will absolutely love the hands on aspect as well. The sheep expressions activity sounds fun!

Mistie

says:

Loved the emoji game! Looking forward to this one :)

Leslie

says:

This will come in so handy, as we are currently working on this in reading! Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was great timing for you, Leslie. 😊

Stefanie

says:

The sheep expression game is a big hit. These games also adds a fun twist to the daily routine. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You already used the sheep activity, Stefanie? That was fast. Thank you for letting us know that it was a hit too!

Karla

says:

We love AALP and use both the reading & spelling! All the helpful tips in email make are really great & appreciated. :)

Nicola Peevor

says:

I’m going to do this with my son – I know he’ll love it, we play with silly voices all the time and this will just be a natural extension, while helping him practise his expressive voices. Thank you!

Lori L Slaubaugh

says:

I love the idea of using the cards. This is what I have been working on with my daughter.

Autumn

says:

My daughter would love this idea! Thanks for all the great extras!

D.Dorsey

says:

These file folder games are awesome, easy and help reinforce spelling lessons.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you like these activities. 😊

Colleen

says:

What an awesome idea

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