Take a look at the fundamentals of reading, and you will soon realize that reading is an enormously active skill. When a person reads a text, they are actively involved in decoding the words, understanding their meaning, looking at the images, making connections, and thinking critically. But many times, plain reading is not sufficient for reading comprehension, as students may just go through words without understanding what they mean.
While teachers often use alternative methods like online games for excelling reading comprehension, incorporating pre-, while-, and post-reading activities can build interest, boost engagement, and support comprehension during reading sessions. Even studies have established that such activities are effective in fostering reading skills in learners.
Ready to know which activities can help you take your reading classes to the next level? Read on as we share some simple activities that your students will love and enjoy as they learn to read and comprehend.
Pre-, while-, and post-reading activities to help students read effectively
These activities are meant to establish a purpose and create interest in the minds of students before they actually start reading. It encourages students to ponder what they already know about the subject and activate their prior knowledge. It also nudges them to make predictions about what they will read in the text provided.
Some simple pre-reading activities to include in your next reading lesson are:
1. Arrange in a Sequence
Gather a few pictures related to the topic that students will be reading. Print a few sets of the images and share them with students. You could divide the class into groups depending on class strength. Students then look at the pictures and determine the sequence of the story by arranging them in a particular order.
One of the members of each group can share how they think the topic or story will unfold by describing their sequence to the entire class. After reading, kids can confirm which group made the best prediction.
2. Discuss the Title
Let students find a partner for this pre-reading activity. Now write the title of the book or reading material on poster-size paper. Instruct students to discuss the title with their partners and brainstorm ideas or concepts they think will be covered in the text.
Give them a couple of minutes to organize their thoughts and write them down on sticky notes. They can put up their notes on the poster around the title to keep a record of their ideas and thoughts prior to reading.
3. Watch and Talk
The internet is filled with many useful resources. Find a video related to the topic students will be reading and show it to the class. Make sure the video is not very long. It should be just enough to give them some idea and boost their interest and engagement toward the topic.
Later, invite students to talk about their thoughts and perspectives about the topic and see what they have to say. Through this activity, students will learn that every person has their own perspective and that each of them matters.
Your students may not be aware of all the words present in a passage. To support their reading, you can conduct a small activity called Pictionary before they read the material. Select new words from the passage and write them with their meanings on the whiteboard.
Prepare a few paper chits with the selected words. Invite a student to the whiteboard and have them pick up a chit. They can refer to the word-meaning list on the board and then draw things that indicate the word without using any letters or numbers.
The rest of the class can now guess the word with the help of the given list. This will reinforce their knowledge of new words and their meanings. You can further extend this activity by discussing the synonyms and antonyms of all the new words in the passage.
5. What Do You Know?
Begin this activity by showing the book cover to the students. Read out the title and the name of the author. Now write a few important keywords related to the topic on the whiteboard and ask students to recall what they know about it. This activity helps to activate prior knowledge and gives students a chance to learn from one another.
Now have your students stand in two concentric circles, with one student from the smaller circle facing another student from the larger circle. As the game begins, both students exchange what they know about the given topic. Now the students in the smaller circle shift one place toward the left. All students will now have a different partner to share information with.
Continue shifting places until students in the smaller circle arrive at their initial positions. In the end, all students in the smaller circle would have gotten a chance to exchange their knowledge with peers standing in the larger circle.
After this session, you can have a common discussion about the author, their writing style, and the names of some of their other works if time permits.
These activities are designed to help students comprehend the text by focusing on its various aspects. It encourages students to analyze the text, tackle vocabulary, and practice different types of reading skills required for quick comprehension of text.
Some ideas for while-reading activities are:
1. What’s the Main Idea?
Every paragraph of a text has a main idea that the author elaborates upon, and identifying it is important for reading comprehension. For this activity, have students pass an object as the music starts. The student who has the object when the music stops must read the first paragraph aloud and explain the main idea.
They can even write their ideas on the whiteboard. Continue passing the object until students have covered all paragraphs. Upon completion, they will have a note of all the key things the author has talked about in the write-up, which will help them better understand the subject.
2. Word Detectives
Even after you discuss important vocabulary as a pre-reading activity, students may have difficulty understanding other words or sentences. To address this, have your students make a note of the words they were unable to comprehend while reading. Let them put their list in a ‘difficult vocabulary’ jar. Now write the list of all difficult words on the board and make small teams act as ‘word detectives’.
Detectives can use a dictionary, either online or in hard copy, or other resources to find the meaning of all difficult words. The team that completes the task at the earliest shares the word meanings with the class and is awarded the title of ‘Word Detectives of the Day.’
3. True or False
Prepare a list of 10–15 statements related to the topic. Frame the sentences in such a way that some of them are true while others are false in the context of the topic. Print enough copies to give one to every pair of students. Instruct students to partner-read the text. Now they can take turns reading the true and false statements to each other and noting their individual answers to determine which of the given statements is true or false.
Partners can reread the text to recheck their understanding if their answers don’t match certain statements. By the end of the reading session, all students would have likely gained a good understanding of the topic. You can either check the sheets individually to learn the extent to which students have understood the topic or discuss the answers with the entire class.
4. Read and Discuss
Sometimes, having a companion to read with is better than reading alone. With this thought in mind, divide students into groups of 3 or 4. Split the text into small sections and assign one section to each student. When students finish reading their sections, all students from other groups assigned to the same section come together and make a chart highlighting all its details. While doing so, students will develop a strong understanding of the section they were assigned.
Now these new groups will come forward and read the section to the entire class and discuss its details, so everyone achieves better comprehension. Make sure the students follow the right sequence of sections during the discussion session to bring out the correct meaning of the text.
5. Draw As You Read
This activity is a great way to engage students when reading a story. Ask students to read the first paragraph of the story and give them a few minutes to quickly draw a picture of what they just read in their notebook. Now have them read the next paragraph and make another image to demonstrate it.
Continue this until students reach the end of the story. Upon completion, every student will have a visual representation of the story, which they can share with their classmates.
Post-reading is the stage when students have new knowledge and know things they never knew before. Activities you conduct at this stage of reading should encourage students to reflect on their understanding of the topic and use their creativity to express what they have learned. It should help students further clarify their interpretations and achieve reading success.
Examples of post-reading activities include:
1. Creative Summary
After students have finished reading the piece, they can prepare a creative summary of the topic. Give students the freedom to come up with unique ideas to showcase their understanding. They can create a summary poster with text and illustrations or use a cardboard box to present a scene and write a short summary on cardboard walls. Remind them to add vivid details, use clear language, and add relevant examples to make their summaries interesting.
2. Recall the Story
Recalling is an activity that helps kids learn more proficiently and enhance long-term memory. To use this as a post-reading activity, one student will start recalling the story from the beginning. Ask them to share just one detail at a time.
Now the next student will continue to recall the story at the point where the previous student left. The activity continues until all students get an opportunity to share their input or the story comes to an end.
3. Act it Out
Pick some of the prominent scenes or ideas from the text that students have finished reading. Divide students into groups and assign one scene to each group. Give the students 15–20 minutes to ideate the scene and let them act it out in front of their peers.
This activity allows students to use gestures and emotions to reflect how well they have understood the scene and the story. It also encourages them to pay attention to details and execute the task in a well-designed manner.
4. The New Ending
After watching a movie, we sometimes wish it had a different ending. The same might happen when we read a story. Usually, students get to know about the author’s perspective on how the story should end but rarely get a chance to think about how they would like it to conclude.
Therefore, give your students this chance by asking them to write a new ending for the story they just read. As every student will come up with their own idea of the story’s conclusion, it would be interesting for other students to listen when their peers read out their versions to the entire class.
5. Partner Interviews
Find some free printable graphic organizers for reading comprehension to use for this post-reading activity. Graphic organizers help students organize thoughts and create a visual display of ideas, thoughts, and details. Depending on their reading goals, students can use the organizers to present various elements of the story or write down the story’s sequence. They can also create a main idea chart or a KWL chart to note what they already knew about the topic, what they wanted to know, and what they learned after the reading session.
Traditionally, students fill in their own thoughts in the graphic organizers. But to add a little fun element, students can form pairs and interview each other about the points that need to be covered in the organizer. They can jot down the points shared by each other during the interview. This will not only support comprehension but also improve their listening and note-taking skills.
Incorporating a variety of pre-, while-, and post-reading activities during reading instruction can help students become proficient readers who don’t just ‘read to read’ but who ‘read to understand.’ These activities actively engage students in the reading process, resulting in better outcomes.
In addition to these activities, teachers can also provide students with a self-monitoring reading comprehension checklist and a list of pre-, while-, and post-reading questions to further support them in their reading endeavors. All of this will give students a holistic reading experience and empower them to become confident and engaged readers.