There are some topics in school that we just learn to pass the exam. For me, that was biology, especially various parts of the plant, human body, and cells and their functions.
But not all of us are lucky enough never to need those topics again in life. While I have never had to use the fact that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell anywhere, comprehension is not one such topic.
No matter what we end up doing, reading, constantly updating ourselves, understanding and retaining that information is a must in very kind of life and profession. This is why, no matter how much one practices, there is always room to better learn and hone these skills with the help of some simple activities like the ones enlisted in this blog.
Activities to comprehend the seemingly incomprehensible
Comprehension as a skill can not only be learned but also mastered by adults all while having fun and playing some games with their peers. Some activities that include components of experiential learning that can help them excel at comprehension are:
1. Puzzled Rhymes
For this activity, the facilitator will have to arrange or make a set of jigsaw puzzles. The backside of the piece should have a line from a poem written on it.
The task of the participants would be to arrange the pieces of the puzzle in such a way that they fit together to make a comprehensible poem. The participants can also later share with everyone what, according to them, is the meaning of the poem.
This activity will not only help individuals improve their comprehension skills but will also test and exercise their puzzling and reasoning skills.
2. Where’s my pair?
For this activity, the facilitator will have to prepare several essays that will then need to be cut into two pieces. These two pieces should then be randomly placed under the participants’ seats.
The task of the participants will be to read their half of the essay and go find the missing half. They will have to eliminate several options, like parts of the essay that don’t go together, for example, one is pro-development, and the other half is anti-development, or essays that are talking about different topics, for example, one is about a pet dog, and the other is about environmental conservation.
The task of eliminating these essays would require the participants to comprehend the meaning of their own half as well as other essays to find the missing half that completes their essay.
3. 3 clues
For this activity, the facilitator will have to prepare chits with various idioms written on them. These chits can then be shuffled and placed in a bowl.
The participants can be divided into two teams. Each team will take a turn sending one participant to pick a chit and give three pictorial clues of the idiom. The team that can correctly guess the highest number of idioms from the clues will win the game.
This is one of the several activities that can help students master idioms because it will require each participant to first understand the idiom themselves and then help their team guess what it is using clever and effective clues.
4. Find the missing word
For this activity, the facilitator will have to find or write an essay with several words missing in different sentences.
The participants will be divided into two teams. The teams will take turns mentioning a word that could accurately fill the sentence. For example, the sentence ‘it was a ____ night’, can be filled with many words like dark, stormy, calm, solemn, quiet, etc. The team that names the highest number of words will win the game.
This game will exercise the comprehension as well as vocabulary skills of the participants and encourage them to come up with various words on the spot.
5. Scrapbook Storybook
For this activity, the facilitator will have to provide the participants with an empty sketchbook and a story.
The task of the participants will be to make a scrapbook of the story. They could either make a comic book depiction of the story or make several maps depicting the characters’ journeys through various lands. They could even draw a timeline of the events. They will have the complete freedom to get as creative as possible in their scrapbook storybook.
To be able to depict the story in the form of various drawings, pictures, cutouts, etc., the participants will first have to comprehend the story. They can also use graphic organizers to make a logical outline of the story and then think of creative ways to tell it again through their scrapbooks.
6. Find my sibling
For this activity, the facilitator will have to present an essay with various words highlighted in two colors, either green or blue.
The participants will be divided into teams. Their task will be to take turns naming an antonym of the highlighted word if it is colored green and a synonym if it is colored blue. The team that can name the highest number of antonyms and synonyms will win the game.
This context of the essay will aid the participants’ comprehension of the word, which will further help them in thinking of various antonyms and synonyms for the word.
7. Genre Mashup
For this activity, the facilitator will have to prepare a bowl full of chits that have the names of various genres written on them.
The task of the participants will be to pick up a chit and begin a story based on the genre they get. For example, if an individual gets mystery as the genre, they might begin the story as “One dark, ominous night I was standing in an abandoned parking lot, listening to the crows send their warning caws.” The next participant will have to continue this story based on the genre they get.
Each participant will add a line to the story that simultaneously builds the storyline and fits the genre they have picked. This will exercise their understanding of both different genres as well as the story they are currently building together.
8. Buzz for it
For this activity, the facilitator will have to find or write several small essays. They will also have to prepare several questions based on the essay. These questions can take any form, like MCQ, True or False, missing word, etc., but the key to keep in mind is that they should test the understanding of the essay rather than its recall.
Individuals can be clubbed in teams of 4 to 5 each. Each team can be provided with a buzzer. The task of the teams will be to read the essay presented to them in under 45 seconds and then buzz as fast as they can to answer the questions that follow. The team with the highest number of correct answers will be declared the winner.
This comprehension game introduces a fun element of speed and competition. The individuals will have to be strategic in their reading of the essay as well as pool their knowledge and understanding of it to effectively answer the questions.
9. Set, Camera, Action
For this activity, the facilitator will have to find stories that can be easily enacted. They will then have to write the names of these stories on chits and put the chits in a bowl.
Individuals can be brought together in several teams. The teams will take turns randomly picking a chit and getting a story assigned to them. They will then work together to create a role-play based on their story. The other teams, as well as the facilitator, can rate the role plays based on their dialogue delivery, clarity of story, etc. The team that most effectively enacts the story will be declared the winner.
This activity will require each participant, as well as the team, to first understand the story themselves and then create a role play to help others understand it as well through their acting.
10. A turn of phrase
For this activity, the facilitator will have to prepare slides that display one commonly used sentence at a time.
The participants will be divided into two teams. The task of the teams would be to say the phrase displayed on the screen with a metaphor, an idiom, personification, or using some other figurative language. For example, the phrase ‘I love him’ can also be said ‘he is the apple of my eye’. The teams will take turns turning the phrase, and if a team cannot think of another creative way of saying the same thing, they will lose that round. The team that wins the most rounds will be declared the winner.
This game will not only test the understanding and comprehension skills of the participants but also how well they can think on their toes and how creative they can be in their turn of phrase. It will also help them understand the use of figurative language in their daily lives.
Learning never stops. But to learn as well, the individual first needs to learn some skills like reading and comprehension.
These skills can easily be learned and mastered, even as an adult, with the help of some easy-to-follow and quite a bit of fun activities, and even free applications.
Activities, especially for adults, can help make the learning process more interesting and accessible, where they can adjust the difficulty level according to their goals and keep up the pace that provides a healthy amount of challenge.
I am Shweta Sharma. I am a final year Masters student of Clinical Psychology and have been working closely in the field of psycho-education and child development. I have served in various organisations and NGOs with the purpose of helping children with disabilities learn and adapt better to both, academic and social challenges. I am keen on writing about learning difficulties, the science behind them and potential strategies to deal with them. My areas of expertise include putting forward the cognitive and behavioural aspects of disabilities for better awareness, as well as efficient intervention. Follow me on LinkedIn