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Written By Karen Leigh Benkenstein

#1 – Charades
For learners who like to get up and move, this activity is an ideal way to demonstrate how well they understand a text. Ask learner volunteers to act out a vocabulary word for other learners to guess. Both acting and the answers will reveal how well learners understand the vocabulary.

#2 – Line it up
Retelling the sequence of events in a story is an essential way to measure story comprehension, and a little creativity can transform a boring recall activity into an interactive game. Write key scenes and plot points from the story onto cards and tape a card onto the learner’s back. Learners will have to work together and ask each other questions to find out which scene they have. Once they’ve determined what point in the plot they represent, learners can line themselves up in an order that represents the sequence of events in the story.

#3 – Picture perfect
Learners who are artistically inclined will enjoy drawing to demonstrate how well they understand a concept. Ask learners to draw a picture that illustrates a concept from the lesson. Then divide the learners into small groups and ask them to take turns showing their pictures to each other. The other learners in the group can guess what vocabulary word or scene from a story is represented in the drawing. Teachers can quickly see how well learners understood the lesson by walking around the classroom and listening to the groups’ conversations.

#4 – Reverse game show
Reverse roles between teachers and learners. At the end of the lesson, ask learners to write a game show style question that can be answered only by a vocabulary word or concept learned in the day’s lesson. A quick look through the questions and answers will show how well the learners are able to define the terms.

#5 – Missing persons
After reading a story aloud, ask a learner volunteer to leave the room and return impersonating one of the characters from the story. The rest of the class can guess which character the learner is pretending to be. From the volunteer’s acting and the responses of the rest of the class, it will be easy to see how well the learners grasped the actions and attributes of the story’s characters. Future actors will love being able to demonstrate their knowledge in an engaging, theatrical manner.

#6 – Question cube
Make a question cube where each side depicts a question word (who, what, why, when, where, and how). The learners need to ask a question about the text to another learner.

#7 – Sentence sorter
Learners have a graphic organizer divided into 4 groups (who/ what/ where/ when). They sort the task cards which consist of words or phrases related to an appropriate theme into the correct category. One card from each category is selected to formulate a super sentence.

#8 – Yellow brick road
The teacher creates a brick pathway either on the board or along the floor. Learners have counters or name cards and roll a dice to move the corresponding spaces on the ‘road’. Each brick in the road has a specific task. Examples of tasks include: clapping out syllables for new vocabulary; identifying the next letter in the alphabet; reading a specific word; saying the beginning or ending sound of a word; general questions regarding a written text that has been read previously. If they are able to complete the task they are able to move forward for their next turn. The goal is to complete the game first.

#9 – Bingo
Each learner has a board with 12 spaces. Using white boards works well as they can swiped easily afterwards. Each space depicts possible answers from the text (either in the form of words of phrases). The teacher calls out a question about the text, learners try to find the answer on their board. The corresponding block is then covered with a small piece of paper. The learner with all 12 spaces covered first, wins the game.

#10 – Mindful
Learners read a text and illustrate what they have visualized while reading. They need to include the setting, characters, events and interpretation of what these circumstances look like from their perspective. The events need to be sequenced in the order they occur in the text. This type of activity helps learners to realise why sequence is important and helps with overall comprehension of the text. Encourage learners to illustrate what they think might happen next in the text. The class can then discuss why they think certain events will occur.

#11 – Story ball
Make use of a beach ball and some masking tape. Questions about a specific text are written on pieces of masking tape. They are pasted onto different areas of the beach ball. Each time you catch the ball you have to answer the question under your right hand.

#12 – Jenga
Using the same format of the popular Jenga game, write questions about a specific text, on wooden blocks. When you pull out the blog, you answer the question about the text.

#13 – Question roll
Each side of a dice corresponds to a specific question about a written text. Learners roll the dice and need to remember the information they read to answer the question.
To grade it up, 2 dice should be used for multiple question options.

#14 – Bookmarks
Learners make a large bookmark using cardboard and crayons. The title and author of the book are written at the top of the bookmark. As the learner reads the story, they write down a quote or scene which they like. Once they have finished the story, discuss the highs and lows of the story. The bookmarks can be decorated accordingly and laminated for future reading.

#15 – Story strings
This activity can help learners to develop their understanding of story structure and sequencing. Make use of strong squares of cardboard. The learner depicts the sequence of the story on each square of cardboard (written or illustrated). Read through the story sequence with the learner. If it is correct, the story is strung up on the string for further class discussion.

#16 – Character notes
To emphasize the importance of understanding characters in a story, the learners are given a character to draw on a large sheet of paper. Their drawings must be as detailed as possible. The various physical descriptions and character traits of are then discussed and written down on sticky notes. These notes are then mixed together and the learners then determine which notes need to be placed on the correct characters.

#17 – Story map
Learners read an appropriate story and create a corresponding map. Emphasis needs to be placed on detail like the location of the various events that occurred in the story, who was involved, the timing etc.

#18 – Book report
Once a book has been completed, the learners can use this activity to summarise the book. Make use of a cardboard folder to recreate the book in their own personalised way. Decorate the front cover with the title and author and colourful illustration about the book.
Decorate the back cover with a short summary of the book. Using lined paper inside the folder, the learner writes a detailed description of the characters, setting and sequence of events. Conclude the summary with their own personal rating of the book. The book reports can be swopped and read by other learners in the class. This activity can be extended further by using the book report as an oral presentation as well. Learners can write their own sequels to their books, as a way of integrating with creative writing. Additional characters can be added. Original settings can be altered. The possibilities are endless.

#19 – Lights camera action
Make use of role-play to help learners understand a story. Expose the learners to the world of acting. Learners can work in groups to create a script about the story they have read. This activity can be integrated with other learning areas. Costumes and sets can be created. Learners can showcase their acting skills within the classroom setting.

#20 – Sentence stretching
Start off by giving your class a very short and simple sentence related to a story you have read. In a circle, learners then add a detail, adjective, or clause that makes the sentence longer while keeping it true to the original story. See how long you can make the sentence before getting stuck.

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