Comprehension Centers for Young Children: Ideas for Teachers

Are you looking for fun ways to help your class improve their comprehension skills? If so, then consider setting up comprehension centers in your classroom. Keep reading for ways in which you can create and maintain these areas for boosting students' understanding.

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Centers to Increase Your Students' Comprehension

What's a Comprehension Center?

A comprehension center is a classroom workstation, which you design in order to improve your students' grasp of a particular subject. Each student in your class can use the comprehension center at some point during the day for self-paced individual practice, group work or guided lessons.

A typical center operates on more than one level; it should be simple enough for lower level students to use while being complex enough that upper level students in your class find it challenging. A comprehension center also should be fun and relatable enough to keep a child's interest while improving his or her ability to understand and analyze the concepts being presented in written text.

Comprehension Center Ideas

When you design comprehension centers for your classroom, aim for fun, interactive activities. It may be hard to think of new ideas each week or month, so you may want to include the some of these ideas in your rotation.

Picture Stories

Put together sets of pictures that tell a story. The pictures can be simple and easy for children to comprehend. For example, in a set of three pictures about baking a cake, you can show a person mixing the batter, putting it in the oven and cutting a slice of finished cake. Scramble the pictures and ask your students to put the pictures in order. You can also mix cards from unrelated stories and ask students to match related cards.

Picture Walk

If you're teaching guided reading and would like to focus on comprehension, begin the lesson with a 'picture walk.' When students take a picture walk, they look at all of the illustrations in the book before reading the story. Ask students to predict what might be happening. When they read the story, they can use their memories from the picture walk to help them comprehend the text.

Listening Station

Create a station to practice listening comprehension. You can make a recording of short sentences or you can lead the center yourself. Describe an activity and ask a student to demonstrate his or her comprehension by drawing a picture to match your description. For example, if you say 'the girl went sledding,' the student would draw a picture of a girl sledding in the snow.

Maintaining a Comprehension Center

Comprehension centers are not only useful for one child at once or small groups, but for the entire class as a whole. You can invent or adapt a wide variety of games to centers that the children are already familiar with. Make minor or major changes to the centers so that they remain interesting and relevant to your students over time. You can also increase the level of certain aspects of a comprehension center so that it remains challenging as your students learn and progress.

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