One of the ways we know that first graders are “getting it” as they learn to read is in the way they talk about a story they have just read. They can go back to the beginning and tell the sequence straight through—and inside their own heads, they will be unreeling the key scenes, like a mental movie. Describing the events and characters of the story in a clear and creative way as the mental movie plays in their head, is an important part of the development of their comprehension skills as well as their vocabulary acquisition.
Want to practice these things in a way that is purposeful and beneficial, yet fun and exciting? Try this goofy scramble book activity. Everyone will laugh…but along the way, your first grader will learn some excellent lessons about story sequencing, descriptive language and comprehension.
What You Do:
- Start by choosing no more than six pages from whatever book you and your child have chosen: you will need the first page, the last page, and four pages in between on which you can see key pictures and text that show the plot advancing.
- Make copies of each of these pages, and then cut them in between the picture and the text. Put the pictures in one pile, and texts in the other, and scramble each pile.
- Now it's time for some sequencing. Lay six blank pieces of paper on a table in a row. Have your child lay out the jumbled illustrations in the order that she thinks is the correct sequence. Which one comes first in the book? Second? Third? And so on.
- Now the more challenging part: have your child match the texts to the proper illustration. The text should match the right picture and the whole thing should tell the story clearly. As she is doing this, have her explain to you what is happening in each scene and why she thinks she has matched the right text with the right illustration. Ask her if there are any words she does know. Have her use a dictionary to look them up.
- Have your child glue each correct set to a piece of blank paper, and then staple the bundle in the correct order. She's just “made” a mini-book…and advanced her reading comprehension at the same time.
You can repeat this activity with several different stories to really give your child a chance to practice. Keep encouraging her to match those pictures and make movies in her head as he moves forward. This will carry her through chapter books, nonfiction books, and all sorts of literary glories in the years ahead!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.