Comprehension Activities

Practice in comprehension skills may be provided by the suggested activities which follow:

1. Ask questions to help students understand what they have read. First, ask factual (literal) questions orally. If students have sufficient vocabulary, questions can be written on the board or on worksheets.

2. Give students a selection without any title. Ask them to suggest an appropriate title or titles for the selection.

3. Have students list all the facts that can be found in a given paragraph.

4. Present a reading selection which contains a series of actions or events. Ask students to read the material to find what happened first, next, and last. Give the events at random and have the students number them in the correct order.

5. Give students a few simple directions. Have them carry out the instructions and check to see how well the students understood.

6. Give strips of paper on which short sentences have been written. Have students arrange them in the correct sequence to tell a sensible story.

7. Write several sentences in which an important word is missing from each one. Have students write in a word or words which will make sense.

8. Give students sentences containing figurative language and supply three or four alternative meanings. Have students choose which meaning is the correct one.

9. Help students read between the lines by giving them a paragraph to read and then asking a series of questions about things which are not definitely stated in the paragraph.

10. Use old, discarded reading texts by taking them apart and dividing them into short selections. Cut each selection into paragraphs and put them in a small box. Ask the students to arrange the paragraphs in the proper sequence to tell the story.

11. Cut out news stories of interest from periodicals and magazines. Laminate them so they can be reused. Ask students to find facts, draw inferences, to note figurative use of language action words, expressions of opinion, descriptive terms or any other variety of purposes you may have.

12. Give practice in anticipating what a reading selection is about by giving only the title and then asking students to predict what the author will write.

13. Show how punctuation can help comprehension by groups or pairs of identical sentences with different punctuation. (George is a curious boy. George is a curious boy?)

14. Give students sentences in which many illustrations of the five senses are provided. Have students sort the words according to the sense described.

15. Give a news story which contains several sets of facts. Ask students to answer the Who, What, Where, Why, When of the story.

16. Prepare short paragraphs containing many details to support the main idea. Put an irrelevant detail among the supporting ones and ask students to identify and underline the detail which does not belong.

17. Ask students to choose parts of sentences which express rage, love, fear, disgust, or other emotions. (Showing not telling in writing).

18. Have students find outcomes of actions so that cause and effect relationships may be understood.Comprehension skills depend upon two major factors: the background of experiences from which concepts have been acquired, and the speed, accuracy, and richness of meanings which students bring to word recognition.


For LEP students comprehension skills may be improved by offering practice in the following kinds of activities:

1. Question students on what has been read. Ask for facts and information contained in the reading material. Ask students to underline the word or words which will give them the answer.

2. Ask students to arrange a series of written sentences in an orderly sequence which will make sense.

3. Help students express the thought of the author in words of their own.

4. Ask pupils to summarize a short paragraph in one sentence.

5. Have students expresss an idea opposite to the one expressed. (It was a bright, sunny day. It was a dark, cloudy day.)

6. Identify a main idea in a selection. Have students find all the details which support or explain the idea.

7. Ask students to test the reality of information they read. Is it true or untrue? Fact or fiction? Logical or illogical?

8. Provide considerable practice in hearing, using and reading figurative language.

9. Provide many and varied opportunities for reading between the lines to find ideas not specifically stated. Ask questions which require pupils to make inferences, to apply judgment, and to see relationships.

10. Assist comprehension through attention to word affixes. Show how the sentence meanings change when prefixes or suffixes of words are changed. (She felt blame. She felt blameless.)