Improve Elementary Students’ Reading Comprehension with an After-Reading Activity

Test your Students Reading Comprehension

This activity incorporates creativity with reading comprehension, providing a unique way to identify which students “get it” and which students don’t.

This activity can be adapted to many age levels and subjects, depending on what is being assessed. It works equally well with fiction and non-fiction.


1) Assign text to students. Have them highlight important words and phrases.

2) After reading, have students draw a picture that is related to the text.

3) Then, have students choose five important words from the text and place them around the image they drew. These meaningful key words should actually appear in the text. (The ability to choose meaningful words and phrases is a cornerstone of improved reading comprehension.)

4) Have students choose two statements from the text that they find important. These statements can be phrases, full sentences, or even paragraphs. These statements should be written on the page.

5) Finally, students should study their work in its entirety. They should determine how the image, important words, and statements connect to each other and what they tell you about the text. Then students should write a sentence or two explaining the theme of their work (theme is the “big idea” expressed by a piece of work.) Done correctly, the theme should reflect the theme of the text.

6) Extension: You can choose to end this assignment here with the theme statement or have students go back into their work and explain why they chose the image, words, and statements that they chose.

This activity helps students improve reading comprehension because it requires them to re-read text and determine which words and phrases are important. The ability to separate significant information from less important information will help in all subjects as well as on standardized tests.

It is perfectly acceptable to use only parts of this assignment due to time or age restrictions. For example, if you teach first graders, you may only have them choose to draw the image and choose five words. Or, if you are running short on time you may decide to only have students choose two words and one statement to place around their picture. This assignment is easy to adapt to your specific needs and gives you a good idea of what students actually took from the text.It also meets the needs of many creative students.