Reading Worksheet Alternatives

I have no problem with worksheets, at least to a point. They can be helpful, especially for practicing math facts and spelling words. But most of them don't require problem solving or critical thinking. With reading especially, I haven't discovered too many curricula or commercial workbooks that actually help kids learn.

And let's face it, after kindergarten, most kids aren't exactly enthused about doing worksheets. Not that I blame them.

Home reading activities.

So I like to force  encourage my kids to complete worksheet alternatives. In the summer, we use Summer Notebooks that cover reading, writing and math.  But if you're just looking to keep your kids accountable for their reading, or to work on reading skills, I have some other suggestions.

  1. Word Family Four Square: Fold a piece of paper into fourths, then write a word family (middle and ending sounds of short words) with a blank spot in front at the bottom of each fourth. Kids need to fill in the blanks (such as putting "p" in front of "_en" to make the word "pen" and draw a picture of the object. Here is one Hugmonkey did: 
    Early reading skills
    I didn't make Hugmonkey draw with much detail here, as I wanted him to get done quickly. In the classroom, I insisted on detailed illustrations in full color.  
  2. Vocabulary Four Square: Basically, the same idea as above, but instead of a word family kids practice with a prefix or a suffix (or two). Ironflower's (unfinished because she has a pile of homework tonight) looks like this: 
  3. With kids who are reading chapter books with few (or no) illustrations, I love to have them draw pictures of key characters and scenes to check for comprehension. If the author repeatedly describes a character as "tall and dark-haired" and your kiddo draws that character as a short person with blonde hair, then some rereading needs to be done. 
  4. You can do something similar with younger kids by reading them a picture book without showing them the pictures. Then have them draw a key scene in the story. And don't let them stress about their draw skills - encourage them to use stick figures if they need to (this goes for older kids too). 
  5. I mention this all the time, but only because it's so much fun. Have kids take a favorite book and turn it into a board game. Trivial Pursuit about Harry Potter, for example. Coming up with trivia questions and answers really forces them to dig deeply into the book. But this isn't limited to older kids. If your little one loves Eric Carle books, have her create a Candyland board based on his books. Then you all can play the games together on Family Game Night. 
  6. Have them write down words whose meanings they're not clear on, either while they read or while you read to them. Then show them how to look words up in the dictionary to find the actual meanings. If you want to extend this, you can then have them copy the meaning and use the word in a sentence. 
  7. Kids can create written or illustrated (or both) timelines of what happens in their books. Before they start, talk about the story - what were the major events? what do you think is important for other readers to remember? - so that they don't wind up writing down every little detail that happened, especially if they've just read a challenging chapter book. 
  8. Sequels don't have to be reserved for lazy Hollywood producers. Let kids write and/or illustrate sequels to their favorite books and movies. 
  9. For non-fiction fans, you can encourage them to write down the five most important facts they learned from a book, chapter or magazine article. If you've got a kid who's been reading shark books for the last month, challenge him/her to write his own fact-based shark book. 
  10. Kids might also have fun with adapting the format of their reading. They can turn a book (or a chapter) into a play, or write letters as characters, create a newspaper front page for the main character's town, or write blog posts as a character. 

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