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Elementary Teacher Resources, Issue #047 - Reading Comprehension
April 30, 2010

Reading Comprehension

All you need is a terrific book and paper. Really.

I think a lot of times people think you need flashy, shiny, new things to teach children how to read like scholars and truly understand books.

But you don’t. And sometimes the most simple – yet well thought out – ideas are the best.

This week we have been studying the life cycle of ladybugs.

We’ve been watching our ladybug larvae fatten up, reading lots of stories, and generally having a lot of fun.

But, on top of that, we have been going deep in comprehension. Very deep.

I discovered this book “Starting Life: Ladybug” and knew instantly that it was a gem of a book to use for comprehension.

So, do to this amazing activity I found a big piece of paper. Like one you’d hang on a bulletin board. I folded it into 4 columns. Then, I hung it up on my white board with magnets.

I labeled each column: Questions, Vocabulary, Text Features, and What We Learned.

Finally, I was ready to begin.

On the first day we took a picture walk through the story – just gazing at the wonderful illustrations. We wrote down questions that we had from the pictures.

Some of the questions were: “Why does it look like the larvae are eating their eggs?”, “Why are some of the ladybugs yellow and not red?” and “Why did they put dead ladybugs in the pictures?”

This took about 20 minutes. I did NOT read the book to them this day.

For the second day we discussed vocabulary. I had a list of 6 – 8 words from the book written on the chart. Some examples were: hatch, awoken (yes, it is a word!), bristles, and crumpled.

We went down the list one by one writing what the children thought the words were before we read the book.

We had a long discussion about what the words “sound” like, if we had connections with them, and how they came up with the definitions.

Before I read the story – I told the kids that they were to give me 2 thumbs up if they heard one of our special vocabulary words while I was reading.

Finally, I read the book.

I think that the children were in awe because I’d never read a book like that to them before. It’s well written, interesting and beautiful.

After I finished we went back to our list to see how we’d done with our predictions. We put a star by the ones that were correct and changed the ones that we needed to.

On to the third day…

This day we all sat down and reread the book from the beginning and went on a Text Feature hunt.

The kids found things like: onomatopoeia, labels, different sized pages (similar to a Foldable), captions, dashes, “Sparkle words” (adjectives), and diagrams.

The children wrote these text features, in their own way, on the chart. Yes, it was adorable, funny and fantastic.

On to the end, we had to finish our book study, so on day four we read the book once more and each student wrote a fact that they’d learned on an index card to hang on the big chart.

We talked about their facts and celebrated in our learning together.


This is just ONE way to do a comprehension study.

For fiction books:

Questions, vocabulary, beginning – middle – end, problem and solution, compare and contrast, word families, and a million other things.

For non-fiction books:

Questions, vocabulary, time lines, diagrams, fact or fiction, fact and opinion, and about a billion other ideas.

The beauty is that you just need a great book, paper and kids.

If you try this with your class - I'd love to see pictures of what you come up with!

Check out my podcasts on my podcast blog. They are fun and helpful!

I hope that you have enjoyed this newsletter. Please feel free to email it to friends and family who are teachers or homeschool moms!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

See you next month!

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