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Using Animal Reading Passages to Improve Comprehension

Keeping students engaged in reading practice is one of the most challenging parts of literacy instruction.  It is difficult for students to practice fluency, decoding, and reading comprehension if they aren’t engaged in the text.  One of my favorite ways to get students excited about reading practice is by using animal reading passages.  In this post, I’m going to share how I use a variety of different animal texts to improve reading comprehension.

How to use animal passages to improve comprehension

Benefits of Using Animal Reading Passages

Animal reading passages are a great way to keep students engaged in literacy skill practice.  Here are three reasons why they are such a great option for elementary students:

1. Seasonal Relevance

Animal reading passages are a great way to bring some seasonal fun to your classroom.  You can focus on animals that are common for the season: Bats in October, turkeys in November, reindeer in December, and so on.  This will keep students engaged in reading practice because it allows them to channel their seasonal excitement into a learning activity!

2. Prior Knowledge

Most students have at least some prior knowledge about animals.  This prior knowledge means that students are more likely to be engaged in the reading because they have some familiarity with the topic. This will also support their comprehension of the passage, which will make reading more enjoyable for them!

3. High Interest

There’s just something extra engaging about animal reading passages.  Students love to learn fun new facts about animals and read stories from an animal’s point of view.

Three types of turkey reading passages

Improving Comprehension Skills with Animal Reading Passages

Now that we’ve talked about the engaging benefits of using animal reading passages in the classroom, let’s talk about comprehension!  By using animal reading passages of different types, your students can practice a wider range of reading comprehension skills.

Informational Text

Reading informational text about animals is a great way to essential for students to be able to navigate and understand this genre of text.  

Animal reading passages are an engaging way to teach students about text features.  There are plenty of diagrams, photographs, captions, and headings for students to use to help them navigate the text.

Turkey informational text and two worksheets

Students can also learn how to apply their prior knowledge to what they have read. They can identify new information, which will help them remember and understand what they have read.  You can even have them fill out a “Knew and New” chart, where they write down facts that they already knew before reading and then add new information that they learned.

Finally, informational animal passages are a great way to help students learn more vocabulary.  Whether it’s learning correct terminology for animal features (such as a turkey snood) or vocabulary about animal behavior, students can be exposed to many new words through informational text about animals.

Fictional Story

Students love to read fictional stories featuring animals!  While they are engaged in these fun stories, they are also practicing a variety of comprehension strategies.

First, students can become more familiar with story structure.  They can identify the characters and setting, as well as the plot.  Not only will this help them improve their reading comprehension skills, but it will also help them compose their own stories!

Todd Turkey fictional story and worksheets

Another comprehension skill that students can practice with fictional animal passages is identifying the author’s message.  Students can think about what message or lesson the author is trying to convey to the reader through the story. 

Students can also improve their knowledge of character point of view through reading animal stories.  Students can analyze how the different characters in a story view the main character. They could also think about how the character feels about certain situations and events in a story, then compare and contrast that with how they would feel in the same situation.

Finally, you can’t read an animal story without some fact or fiction fun!  In fictional animal stories, it’s common for animals to be doing things that aren’t typical.  Students love to identify whether something in a story is fact or fiction!

Poem

Reading animal poetry is different than reading informational text or fictional stories.  With poetry, the author is trying to express feelings or ideas through different poetry elements.  Students can learn about poetry elements such as rhyme scheme, stanza, personification, and rhythm. Understanding the elements of poetry is an important step in comprehending animal poems.

Students can also use visualization to help them understand poetry.  Encourage them to create images in their minds based on the words they have read in the text. You can walk them through the five senses as they form a picture in their mind. The ability to visualize text is essential for reading comprehension.

Turkey Poem and a variety of comprehension activities

Poetry is a genre of text that often requires a certain amount of inference.  This is an important skill for students to learn and practice! Text of many genres will require the reader to infer something in order to truly understand what is going on. A fun way to practice inference is through character interviews.  Students can pretend to be a character from the poem and answer interview questions from that character's point of view.  The answers aren’t directly laid out in the poem, so students need to use their inference skills to come up with an interview response.

Printable Animal Reading Passages

Would you like to add a variety of animal reading passages to your plans this month?  Try these turkey reading passages!  This resource includes a turkey-themed fictional poem, informational text, and narrative story to keep your students engaged and excited about reading practice.  Each text comes with a variety of comprehension activities that are perfect for small groups, whole-group instruction, and literacy centers.

If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource, you can find it on my website shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Save These Animal Reading Passages

If you’d like to find these tips and resources later, be sure to save this post!  Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly return to this post whenever you need it.

How to use animal reading passages to improve comprehension

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