Four free reading comprehension activities that work - you won't believe how much fun these lessons are. Who knew that making a salad would be a way to teach reading strategies!
Getting children to become fluent readers includes being able to use metacognition to make sense of the text. These awesome strategies are fun, engage all levels of learners and are easy for the teacher to implement!
Do you remember who Athena was? How about Demeter and Hermes? No? Hmmm…perhaps you need a bit of help acquiring subject-specific vocabulary. This strategy works for all subject areas, at all age levels.
Let's use a Greek mythology example. Get some index cards, let's say 20 - one card for each god or goddess.
On the front of the card write the name of the god or goddess.
On the back, put VERY limited and specific information about him or her (only what the students really need to know).
Hand out these cards in class along with a paper that has all the names listed on it.
Tell the students they are each now a figure from Greek mythology (the one on their card).
Their job is to visit their friends to find out who everyone is and learn important information about them.
As the students visit with each other, they write
down the essential information each person tells them (from the back of
their card) beside the correct name on their paper. It would look like
Zeus: god of heaven
Hera: goddess of marriage; Zeus' wife
Hermes: messenger of the gods
is a great way to get that kinesthetic modality involved, have kids
working together and making difficult vocabulary accessible!
Could this reading comprehension exercise also be used with math?
Absolutely. Make the cards names of geometric figures. What about
science? The cards could have words related to the study of sound, the
moon, plants…so many free reading comprehension activities work with any
subject, and this one is no exception.
Need free reading comprehension activities for reading aloud? Go to Interactive Read Aloud.
Word walls are one of the most effective free reading comprehension activities.
A word wall is a fantastic tool to use for vocabulary activities and instruction, and we know that a deep understanding of key vocabulary terms is essential to comprehending text.
(To see how this is used with mathematics, go here)
Words should be posted where they are accessible and visible to all
students. Subject specific terms are used to create the word wall.
The words should be addressed often and used continually throughout the unit of study through activities such as:
Effective teaching reading strategies can include kinesthetic learning modalities. Try making this simple salad!
In French cuisine, a simple salad is made of only lettuce and onion. Your students will make a simple salad while learning what it means to think about thinking/reading (metacognition).
Tear up pieces of green and white paper. The green paper is the lettuce, and the white is the onion.
Ask the students what they should have more of in their salad, lettuce or onion? Of course, the answer is lettuce.
Tell them the lettuce represents your thinking about what you are reading. The onion is when you are just reading the words of a text.
Call two students up to stand with you while you read aloud. Tell them that whenever you are just reading the text, one of them is to put some onion into a bowl. When you stop and think aloud about what you have read, the other student must put in some lettuce. This takes some practice, so you may want to work on it ahead of time.
Here is an example using The Magic Horns: A South African Cinderella Tale:
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were many large and small kraals on the veldt in South Africa.(white paper)
"I wonder what a kraal is. I bet it is home or a village. But what is a veldt? It must be a type of landform."(green papers)
In one of the kraals lived a mother and father and their little son/(white paper)
"Okay, a kraal is definitely a home or a village."(green paper)
One day, the mother became very ill. Her skin become the color of dust, and despite everyone's efforts, she soon died.(white paper)
"Why would the author say her skin became the color of dust? That must mean she slowly died and looked very grey or yellowish."(green papers)
final outcome is a very visual way of showing students how good readers
think about what they are reading. The salad bowl should have much
more green than white in it. You could then have the students practice
it with each other, and also use it at any time you are observing a
student struggling with comprehending a text.
Instead of doing the thumbs up and thumbs down to show if they understand, try giving the students paint chips.
really is one of the best comprehension activities, as
paint chips are definitely free at your local home stores.
You should get the chips that come with three colors on them: light, medium and dark.
If they are very clear on what is happening in the text, they put a penny on the light color.
If their thinking is not clear, the penny goes on the the medium
color. If they are completely in the dark, the penny goes on the dark
color. Now the students are really into metacognition - thinking about
their own thinking and comprehension of the text.
G.I.S.T. stands for "Generating
Interactions between Schemata and Text." One of the more difficult
things for students to do is to grasp the essentials, or main idea of a text. Getting the "gist" of something means that you get what the most important parts are.
This is an excellent reading intervention strategies for ELL students. It gets rid of extraneous words and information that will impair their understanding of a text.