In my opinion, there are 3 main components involved in teaching a young child to read: Phonemic Awareness (learning the sounds each individual letter makes), Sight Words (recognizing specific words instantly) and Comprehension (relating to the story and remembering specific information about it). Of course, as children become more proficient there will other components that come into play as well.
The great thing about Reading Comprehension is that we can begin practicing WAY before we even start to think about our child learning to read. It is just as important to teach children to comprehend stories that they listen to as it is when they will be able to read themselves. Read-alouds are a great opportunity for integrating reading comprehension.
When I taught first grade, I used my set of these comprehension beach balls after read-alouds. My students loved them and it brought in a kinesthetic element that antsy 6-year olds enjoyed.
The only problem with those beach balls are that they are a little too complicated for little ones (and they were $7.00 for the two of them). So, I decided to make my own “simplified” comprehension beach ball!
Here’s what you’ll need: a beach ball ($0.99 at Target) and a permanent marker.
1. Blow up the beach ball.
2. Write your comprehension questions (or in this case statements) with the permanent marker. I chose to do only these three:
- In the beginning of the story…
- At the end of the story…
- My favorite part was…
3. Read a story to your little one. We read this one that Big Brother is currently obsessed with:
4. After you read a story, toss the ball to your little one. Whatever “section” their hands land closest to will be the question you ask them first. Continue until you have asked all the questions!
I’ll admit this particular activity isn’t really developmentally appropriate for a 2 1/2 year old, so I wasn’t planning on it being a huge success with Big Brother. He surprised me, though, and was able to finish off the phrases after a lot of probing from me. But I guess this is what a 2 1/2 year old would rather do with a beach ball..