6 Fun Ways to Assess Reading Comprehension With Kids!

Child's triilngual library bedroom
Reading in her bedroom library

Learning to read is a very exciting milestone, but does your child truly understand what they are reading?  Reading comprehension is crucial and complex.  The process involves decoding, interpreting, and remembering the meaning of words in sentences and paragraphs.

My daughter is 4 years old and started reading at age 3.  At first, many people were skeptical that she could understand what she is reading due to her young age.  I have heard comments that she “probably just memorized the Chinese characters.”  While she does have a good memory (knows 800+ characters), she usually understands what she reads.  Of course, the easiest way to test reading comprehension is by asking and discussing different parts of a story.  However, we all know that kids don’t always respond to questioning (cue shrugging with a disinterested “I don’t know”).  No worries!  Here are 6 fun strategies that you can use to check reading comprehension skills!

Fun ways to test reading comprehension

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6 Fun Ways to Assess Reading Comprehension

1. Draw it

Drawing is a great option for those who are shy or not confident about expressing themselves verbally.  After the child is done drawing, ask them to describe what they drew.  Try to resist the temptation to guess what they drew and the meaning – let the child lead the way in the presentation.  After the child is done sharing, you share your observations and relationships that you notice with the book!

2. Make it

If you have a kid who enjoys creating, building, and working with his or her hands, a book-based activity is a great way to apply and reinforce the reading material.  For example, here is a paper plate craft that we did with the Rainbow Fish Book!  I asked my daughter what she thought was important from the book, and we wrote those words on the “scales” of the Rainbow Fish craft!

Rainbow Fish Paper Plate Craft

Related: Hands-on book-based activities for children

4. Reenact it

When my daughter and I learn new Chinese words, we try to act out what we just read to help us remember it.  For example, when we learned the word 蝌蚪 (Kēdǒu / tadpole), my daughter had a blast pretending she was a tadpole swimming in the ocean (eg, being silly on the floor!).  After reading, we also have fun reenacting the different scenarios.  While reading 司马光砸缸 (Sīmǎ guāng zá gāng / Si Ma Guang Breaks the Jar) in the 四五快读 series, we used toys and pretended they represented 司马光, friends, and the giant jar!  My daughter also loves to act out audio stories.  Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure if she’s really listening to them, but she is paying attention to every word!  Here is a video of her reciting and performing 狼和七小山羊 (Láng hé qī zhī xiǎo shānyáng / Wolf and Seven Little Goats).

Related: 3 Ways My Child and I Are Learning Mandarin Chinese from Audiobooks

4. True or false

True or false (right or wrong) is one of our favorite ways to practice reading!  You can do this verbally or by writing sentences about a recent event or story that you have read.  Below is an example of sentences that I wrote for my daughter last year when she was 3 years old.  We use Post-It notes to make it a hands-on exercise!

Assessing reading comprehension - True & False

Please note that I am not fluent, so what you see in the photo might not be grammatically correct (I think 与 (Yǔ / versus) should have been 或 (huò / or) or 还是 (háishì / or), and I always appreciate feedback!).  But I try to write these short assignments to improve my own Chinese skills, and my daughter likes to read them because they are relevant to her life!

Related: How I Taught My Child 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Speaker

5. Guess the book!

Last weekend, I surprised my kids by arranging their Chinese books (and some English and Korean books) into a rainbow and hid our golden Montessori beads in them.  This “guess the book” game was SO FUN for my kids!  Clues included the appearance and content of the book, so it was a great way to assess reading comprehension!  My daughter and I took turns hiding and giving clues!

Book Rainbow - Hide and Seek

If you prefer not to have a book mess like the one in the photo, set out just a handful of books!  🙂 You can hide anything, even a bookmark!  See if your child has any ideas to spruce up the game and spark discussion about the books!

Related: 有道 Youdao Dictionary Reading Translation Pen for Chinese-English Learners

6. Play teacher

Kids love to pretend that they are the teacher, parent, or any grown-up!  After reading a book of your child’s choice, he or she can take the role of the teacher and ask mom and dad questions about the book.  When you come up with your own questions, you have to synthesize the information and consider what seems important enough to ask!  Plus, kids enjoy testing mom and dad’s knowledge!  This activity is a win-win for speaking, listening, and reading comprehension practice!

READING COMPREHENSION fun ways to assess

I hope these 6 play-based ideas take your child’s reading journey to the next level!

TIPS ON CREATING A BILINGUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT AT HOME

Research-based reading strategies

To learn more about research-based reading strategies for children, I highly recommend the Reading Rockets website!  Here are some of my favorite articles:

Happy reading, friends!

11 Comments

  1. I have been asking my 2 youngest daughters to translate Spanish words for daddy, because he does not understand Spanish very well. Now we are going to translate simple stories for him this weekend(he works alot far away during the week). Next we are learning some basic words in Russian. They have to tell me what the words mean. Then they will transate simple stories for me. My Russian is not very good. This puts them in the role of teacher. They will also learn to translate between languages. That will give them future job experience. They will also be prepared to teach their kids. It is so amazing to see kids learn so much and so quickly. They have such amazing learning potential!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Elena! Kids are amazing, and it’s so fun to learn from them! 🙂 So wonderful to hear that your children are teaching you and your husband new words!

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