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Test Prep: Center Ideas for Reading Comprehension

Pick-A-Stick Question Kit

Reading is, by far, one of the most challenging subjects for students to grasp.  While some instantly take to decoding, fluency, and comprehension strategies, many others struggle.  As a teacher, your job is especially challenging, because state testing often places restrictions on what can and cannot be read to a student unless he has specific testing accommodations listed on an IEP.  Preparing your students becomes particularly important to help ease the anxiety of the high performers, as well as those who struggle.  The three ideas below will give you some quick file folder mini-centers that review basic concepts on most tests.

Reading for Purpose

Determining what an author’s purpose is for writing a story is an important concept that your students will be tested on.  Create a mini-center by cutting out articles with different purposes from magazines like Highlights or Ranger Rick.  Adhere the articles to card stock and laminate them.  Test students’ knowledge by having them match the article to its purpose and recording the answer on a sheet to turn in.  If your school uses test prep books, copy a few of the samples in them and use those instead of magazine articles.  You can also write your own blurbs if you choose.  Store this center in a file folder and keep it with other test prep review folders.

Book Mission Kit - Primary

Story Elements

On one half of a file folder glue an excerpt from a short story or other reading passage.  On the other side of the folder, have a pocket with half-sheets of paper that have a story web drawn on them.  To complete the activity, students must fill-in the story web based on the passage.  For example, one of the web ovals would ask for the main character, another for the setting, etc.  Get creative with the cover and draw or glue a picture of spider on the front to indicate that it is a web activity.

Table of Contents

Not only will your students need to read passages, but for many tests they will also be required to read and understand a table of contents or index.  Set aside a couple of text books to give them real-world practice.  Create questions for each text book’s table of contents.  The answer sheets can be stored inside file folders tucked inside the books.  If you would rather not have the books stored with the rest of your activities, simple copy one of the table of contents and glue it to the inside of a file folder.  Have the questions in a pocket on the opposite side and the answer sheets on the back.

By making test review a center activity, students’ skills will be reinforced while they are having fun.  Create a simple smiley face center completion chart where you track who has completed the activities.  Once the whole class is finished with the activities, celebrate with an extra recess or a game outdoors.  There is nothing like outside time to motivate your students.

Check out more Reading Comprehension tools by Really Good Stuff.

Need to work on basic reading skills before moving on to more advanced topics?

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Tina Edgar
Tina Edgar

I think this idea is wonderful. Neat, compact and easy to differentiate with different levels of text. Definitely something we could incorporate in our literacy center time.


Ooooooooooh, I love this idea! I am always looking for ways to help my kiddos with their comprehension!


All good ideas! I also really like the Hot Dot Comprehension sets, I have students work on them independently. They enjoy getting the answer right so much, that they really focus on the short reading passages!