Comprehension for 3rd Grade

What is Comprehension?

Child reading a book.

Reading comprehension refers to the ability to understand what one reads. It is the ultimate goal of reading instruction. (Definition from University of Oregon)

In third grade, readers answer questions citing evidence from the text. They are able to identify the central message or moral of a text and describe characters and their role in the story. Third graders accurately use text-specific terms (e.g., chapter, scene, stanza) and can distinguish their own point of view from another's point of view (e.g., narrator's, character's). They can explain how the illustrations contribute to the text and use text features to locate information. Readers can compare and/or contrast features of texts written by the same author, and describe how the author connects ideas within a single text. They describe relationships using time, sequence, and cause/effect language and can compare and/or contrast two texts written on the same topic.

What Does it Look Like?

Is your reader building knowledge from reading?

Does your reader understand all that is read?

How can comprehension be addressed before, during, and after reading?

Practice Activities

Before, During, and After: Engage before reading a book to the child by making a prediction about the book, reading the blurb on the back, or connecting the topic of the book to something familiar to the child.  During reading, make personal connections, predict what will happen next, or discuss characters and/or emotions.  After reading, talk about favorite parts of the story and your opinions.  Before, During, and After (optional)

Check-ins: Stop every few pages to “check-in" while the child is reading or as you are reading together.  This is one way to know if the child is understanding what is being read or heard. Use open-ended questions to gauge their understanding (e.g., “What are your thoughts about this part of the story?”, “How do you know?”, “What do you think might happen next?”).  You can vary how frequently you check-in based on how well your child is understanding the text.  For more challenging texts, check-in more frequently.

Graphic Organizers: Create a visual with the child as texts are read and discussed.  Watch Graphic Organizers.

Five Finger Retell: Retell a story with the child, having each finger represent a story element.  Your thumb is the characters, pointer finger is the setting (where the story took place), middle finger is the beginning, ring finger is the middle events, and pinkie is the solution ending.  After the child retells, ask them their favorite part of the story.

Exploring Poetry: Read short, simple poems together.  Discuss what they are about and the feelings they convey.  Create your own poems together and share.  Providing notebooks, journals, or stapled paper allows children to keep a collection of their writings to reread and share with others.

Family Book Club: Encourage different family members to pick the book.  Discuss the main ideas, plots, characters, and personal opinions about the book together.  This is a great way to enjoy quality family time while experiencing the joy of reading together.

Dear Character: Ask the child to write a letter to the main character in the text.  Have the child write about their favorite part of the book and include questions they have after reading.

mCLASS Home Connect: Access Comprehension activities to practice reading at home or on the go.

Practice Activities (with Printables)

If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.

Incredible Inferences: Play this Bingo-like game with the child by covering the situation described on the card drawn.  This activity supports children as they practice the skill of inference.  Inferencing can be a challenge for young readers and is often needed to determine the moral or lesson of a story.  Incredible Inferences

Story Element Sort: Using the cards provided, sort the cards by story.  Then, match the descriptor to the appropriate story element.  Story Element Sort

Just the Facts: Support the child as they read informational text.  Look for facts about the topic.  Children are expected to refer to the text to support what they have read about the topic.  Just the Facts

Story Question Cube: Use a dice-like cube with questions on each side to review elements of a recently read story.  Roll the cube and answer/discuss the question on top.  Story Question Cube

Character Characteristics: Describe a character in a story by answering questions to complete a graphic organizer.  Extend this activity by completing the graphic organizer for two characters and then comparing the characteristics.  Character Characteristics

Persuade, Entertain, and Inform Sort: Read short passages with the child and sort them by the author’s purpose.  Persuade, Entertain, and Inform Sort

Online Activities

Question Cube: This game provides a short story to read.  Click the question cube and answer the question based on the story.

Detective's Notebook: The game is designed to get students thinking about what they are reading and answering questions that require inferencing.

Train Game: This game supports children in developing synthesis skills by asking them to group and order words to form sentences.

Main Idea Millionaire: This game has players find the sentence that does not fit with the main idea of the paragraph.

Sir Readalot: This game has players smash boxes to find a key that will unlock the treasure box while practicing skills around fact and opinion, drawing conclusions, context clues, and syllables.

Author’s Purpose: This game provide practice identifying the author’s purpose after reading a brief passage. Is it to entertain, inform, or persuade?