18 Elementary Comprehension Activities


Getting our students reading is no easy task! We have our choppy readers, fast readers, super slow readers, and even non-readers all bundled together in our classrooms with needs. Oh my, the needs! But teachers like yourselves do miracles daily! Then by the end of 2nd and 3rd Grade, these kiddos are becoming masters of reading. But are they always understanding? As texts become harder, do our students have the comprehension skills they need as they progress in school? These kiddos need Comprehension Activities!

We looked back at some of our old blogs for younger students, did some new research, and came up with 18 Comprehension Activities for 2nd and 3rd Grade that can make your jobs easier! These items require minimal prep work for you while providing tons of practice for your students! We also have included some digital activities for your remote learners so you can easily cover all areas! #9, #13, and #16 are so easy to implement; my class of 2nd graders is banging out their best comprehension ever! Check out these 18 Comprehension Activities!

Comprehension Activities for Whole Group!

1- Think Aloud Prompts for Metacognition Students repeat what they hear and see! Teach them how to think about what they are thinking! While reading out loud, ask yourself questions out loud as well. Hmm, I wonder what will happen next? Gosh, I wonder why he did that? Model, model, model how your kids should be thinking while they are reading!

2- Insects Unit

This unit includes Insects Close Reads with authentic photographs and academic language. Plus, we have included five open-ended, text-dependent questions for each insect. And graphic organizers to complete treemaps, organize facts, and do compare and contrast writing!

3- Graphic Organizers. Graphic organizers let students process information both visually and spatially, which encourages them to internalize the material.  The very nature of graphic organizers enables students quite literally to see the connections in what they are reading.

Comprehension Activities to Guide Your Groups More!

4- K-W-L Charts I enjoy hearing from my students before a story. I show them the book, and we study the cover while discussing the title. Or, if I am introducing a topic, I will tell the kids what we will be learning about today. Then, the kids tell me what they know about the subject. I excite them about the book or topic, and the kids tell me many things they want to learn. After, we write down all of the things we learned! The kiddos love sharing!

5- Making Connections By making text-to-life connections and activating prior knowledge, students become invested in their reading.  Students can comprehend better when they can relate to a text! Connections can be a powerful tool to keep them engaged and motivated when working on their reading skills. Furthermore, connecting what your students are reading to their lives and activating prior knowledge may help them retain more of their reading.

6- Scavenger Hunt  I have increased my scavenger hunt game since distance learning occurred. And now that we can move around the building more, I love setting up scavenger hunts with clues requiring thinking and comprehension. The kids have a lot of fun, and usually, the result is something simple and cheap!

7- Mirrors and Windows Mirrors are books you can see yourself in, making personal connections. A book that is a window allows our students to look into someone else’s life and gain perspective. Both types improve our understanding and comprehension! Choose books that will enable your students to see in the mirror but also look through the window! Click the link for a great blog on this topic by Lanesha Tabb and Education with an Apron!

Comprehension Activities for Small Group or Individual Work

8- Directed Draw & Write Kids enjoy drawing about things they read or hear, giving students paper, and drawing a picture from the story with an accompanying sentence. ETTC has some fabulous Directed Drawings where kids follow the directions to create their image and then complete comprehension activities around the picture.

9- 5 Finger Story Retells (CORE BINDER) Your thumb is the setting, the index finger is the characters, the middle finger is the problem (beginning), the ring finger is the events in the middle, and pinkie is the solution (ending). If you don’t have our great resource, CORE Binder, which has several five-finger options, including the visual below, the students can trace their own hands and fill in all the information!

10- Literacy Centers 10 Literature Centers per month for the entire school year for 2nd Grade or 40 downloadable centers aligned with 3rd Grade standards! We have centers available in both 2nd and 3rd Grade! Comprehensive, meaningful centers to work on your class needs all year long!

11- 3-2-1 Strategy After students complete a passage, ask them to write down three things they learned, two interesting things, and 1 question. By using this simple strategy, you not only boost their engagement, but you allow them to improve their reading comprehension purposefully. You can find this in our CORE Binder as well!

12- Main Idea and Key Details Digital Lit Center Main Idea Activity for Google Classroom™/Slides™ features 10 Main Idea and Key Details Mats where the students will have to determine the main idea of all the objects and explain why by typing in the space below.

Keep Those Comprehension Activities Coming!

13- 2 Grade Digital Reading Comprehension Passages and Questions The passages with these ETTC 2nd Grade pages are fantastic! The purpose of having fluency is not fast reading. Instead, building up fluency helps comprehension, and these are leveled just perfectly for 2nd Grade!

14- 3rd Grade Reading Fluency and Comprehension Passages If you are not looking for digital or need additional grades for differentiation, we have you covered! From Practically First through 3rd Grade, boost that fluency and practice comprehension!

And Finally

15- Book Reports, Book Reviews, and Book Critiques The book reports that some of us did as kids were monotonous! Not today! Have students do a deep dive into the illustrations or authors’ purpose. Allow them the freedom to write about or draw about their likes and dislikes of a book. What would they do differently? How would they change up characters or plots?

16- Peer Groups and Discussions Skip the writing and have students work together to discuss the illustrations, characters, and plot. Change it up and do before, during, or after the book is read. Hearing perspectives from others’ can boost comprehension in new ways!

17- More than Books Allow your students time to explore nontraditional reading material that interests them.  Other materials will motivate them and keep them excited about reading, but they will offer challenges that typical texts may not. Suggest material like newspapers, magazines, recipes, comic books, blogs, or song lyrics!  Keep it fresh and fun, and your students will be dying to read more!

18- Technology Technology is the perfect way to not only get your kids excited about reading but offer them the opportunity to work on a variety of reading skills. If you don’t have it yet, ask your school for Readingatoz.com.

Bonus Comprehension Activity

Bonus Activity:  If starting with a shape or line and then having your students transform that into a picture that they will then write about sounds great, try Transformation Station. And what’s a bonus without a freebie?

Well, did we deliver? I hope so! Hopefully, this list of 18 Comprehension Activities for 2nd and 3rd Grade gets your kiddos ready to move on to comprehend more complex texts with very prep work for you! Have some ideas of your own or some thoughts on ours? We love feedback and different ideas!


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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.