When it comes to reading comprehension, we teachers need to be on our “A” game. These skills are are so important but can be so hard for our students to grasp. I love using these animal style reading comprehension strategies to make comprehension “stick.”
Teaching students how to think is never an easy task. Our curriculum focuses on one reading comprehension strategy with each weekly story.
I don’t know about you, but explicitly teaching the reading comprehension strategy on top of the phonics skill, and intervention, and common core math has not been on easy task!
(Especially when you consider that the curriculum includes a total of zero engaging ways to teach such skills. 🤪)
Have you ever heard, Necessity is the mother of invention? It’s so true! I started the year racking my brain for a better way to teach students how to question, predict, and draw conclusions in a FUN way.
Not only do I want them to know the strategy, I want them to start using these skills on their own.
After spending a week learning about bears in class, I had an idea. I could teach the strategies: Animal Style!
I started with posters. Then, in order for the posters to teach them something, I made a fun poem for each strategy. Instead of me teaching the strategy, the animal is teaching it!
My kids get such a kick out of this! 👏
My class LOVES LOVES LOVES poems, songs, and anything we get to recite chorally.
Good thing us primary teachers know how to rhyme. 😉
When I introduce the poster, we look at the animal and it’s name and the text. Then we chant the little poem together. We discuss what the chant means and how it applies to the book we are reading.
“Predicting Panda says, ‘Look at the text and think about what will happen next!'”
Using These Engaging Strategies
I display the posters on our focus wall board. I also created them in a smaller size that can be cut and laminated. I put them on rings so my students could have a copy.
They are perfect for reinforcing the strategies in our small groups. I also keep a few sets in our classroom library! #ilovetinycutethings 🥰
An additional way to reinforce learning and keep these strategies at the forefront of their mind is to print out these bookmarks. Each of my students has a reading strategies bookmark to keep in their reading book.
Once we have learned all the strategies, I’m going to send a set home too. 🙌 Thanks to my genius friend Hadar for the brilliant bookmark idea!
After chanting and displaying our poem, I model what the animal is trying to teach us.
I think aloud, and we fill out a graphic organizer together. I love that they can be used with fiction and nonfiction texts!
There are also super fun and engaging flip books for each strategy. These can be printed on one piece of paper!
Filling these out independently or in a small group can improve reading comprehension by using specific strategies.
Have I mentioned they require no prep? My students always ask, “How many flip flaps do we get to make today?” I’m not sure they realize each “flip flap” is another question to answer… 😉
How does this Improve Reading Comprehension?
One thing I love about these strategies is that they require higher order thinking. Students have to think critically to fill in the organizers and fiipbooks. The prompts are guided them to a deeper understanding of the text they have just read.
That being said, it is so important that we model, model, model! I do these together with my students many times before I ask students to complete them on their own.
Once students do start completing them on their own, they are great for differentiation. I only make one set of copies, but I can ask some groups to draw a picture, some to write a few words, some to write a few sentences…yet they are all working on the same skill. #teacherwin
Between the visuals, the poems, the modeling, the graphic organizers, the flip books, and the bookmarks, my students are becoming reading comprehension EXPERTS!
How do you teaching reading comprehension strategies in your classroom? Have you tried using animals before? 🐯🐼 Let me know your favorite activities below! 👇