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The #1 Way to Improve Reading Comprehension

What’s the #1 way to improve reading comprehension? Well, it’s super complicated and I almost don’t want to tell you for fear of scaring you off. 

Just kidding. It’s not complicated at all! The best way to improve reading comprehension is by helping kids improve their vocabulary. That’s it. Sounds so simple right?

Here’s the thing though. The more words kids know, the better they can comprehend what they are read.

But the issue is, fitting in vocabulary instruction into your already busy schedule.

But it’s doable!

Let me share some ideas for ways you can fit vocabulary into your day. You can try all of these or just the ones that are best for you and your students.


Read Picture Books

One way to help kids improve their vocabulary is by reading picture books and having kids figure out difficult words in context. Reading a picture book can not only help you teach context clues, but you can use it in conjunction with reading skills.

Word of the Day

Another way to fit vocabulary in is by having a word of the day and see how many times kids can use it throughout the day. Pick a tier 2 word each day and write it on the board.

You might want to plan out all of the words for the week ahead of time so you don’t have to search for a word each day. They can even come from one of the picture books you’ve read!

Challenge students to use the word as much as possible and have a contest to see who can use it the most in one day. 

Their prize doesn’t have to be anything that costs money. Winning the challenge can be enough motivation for 3rd graders. 

Find Synonyms and Antonyms 

Have students find synonyms and antonyms for the word of the day. This increases word knowledge to 15 words a week for a 5 day school week. Discuss them and talk about why the words mean almost the same thing or the opposite.

They can record them in a journal to keep track or put them in a word jar. Discuss synonyms and antonyms during morning meetings or at dismissal. 

Not only are the kids being exposed to more words, but they’re also practicing the reading skill of synonyms and antonyms.


Write Sentences

Another way is having kids write sentences using the words they learn in class in their own context. This helps them make even more meaning and helps them retain the words.

They can write these sentences in vocabulary journals or on an ongoing Google document. 

When kids use words in their own context, they are more likely to comprehend the word meanings and remember them. 


Use Pictures

Kids can draw pictures for each of their vocabulary words. They can even add them to sentences if they have a vocabulary journal. 

Helping them see the meaning visually helps with retention. For ESL kids, provide pictures that can help them understand the words when you teach the words.

Another option is to display a picture and 3 words. Ask the students which word they think goes with the picture and why. Asking them to explain why the picture goes with the vocabulary word can help you clear up any misunderstandings.

There are so many ways to fit vocabulary into your day. You’ll notice 3rd-grade reading comprehension improve greatly when you implement vocabulary regularly into your schedule.

Would you like some free vocabulary resources to use with the book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson? You can download your FREE copy HERE!

This a great book to start the school year with and you’ll have vocabulary lesson plans all set to go!


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