17 Active and Engaging 2nd-Grade Reading Comprehension Activities

Are your second graders struggling to understand what they read?

Don’t worry…

They’re still on their way to discovering the wonderful world of reading. Children need intentional instruction to be able to develop the ability to understand, discuss and interpret what they read on their own.

Here are engaging 2nd-grade reading comprehension activities that will equip them with problem-solving strategies that will enable them to become proficient readers.

1. Make a K-W-L Chart

This is one of the most classic reading activities for 2nd-grade students that teachers love to use!

understanding the kwl chart image

This will help students retain what they’ve learned after reading and also help their brains make a connection between new information and what they already know.

Ask them to scan the book or text quickly, just enough for them to grasp what the broad concept of the book is. Draw three columns on the board or chart paper and label them K, W, and L. In the K column, ask students to write what they already know. In the W column, ask them to write what they want to know and learn from the text in the form of questions.

As you read the text with them, draw their attention to the questions in the W column and have them record new learnings in the L column.

2. Make a Retelling Glove

This activity is handy for checking second-grade students’ reading comprehension and helping them remember story elements.
kid wearing a retelling glove

Ask students to trace their one hand twice and cut it a bigger size because they will be making a hand glove.

Ask them to glue the edges except for the area where they need to insert their hands. On the five fingers, ask them to write the words “character, setting, events, end, and your take”. Ask them to put on the retelling glove and talk about the following story elements when retelling a story.

  • Characters- Who were the people in the story?
  • Setting- Where did the story happen?
  • Events- What took place in the story?
  • End- What was the ending of the story?
  • Your take- Talk about your favorite passages and why you like them.3. The Story Element Charades

This is great end-of-unit activity to test your second-grade students’ reading comprehension and retention.

Simply divide the class into two teams. Have the teams take turns acting out and guessing the story elements you’ve provided.

4. Play a Ball Game

kids playing ball game

This is perhaps the simplest of all the reading comprehension activities for 2nd graders here, but it’s one of the most physical and laughter-inducing too!

Ask your 2nd-grade students to toss around a beach ball to take turns summarizing the beginning, middle, and end of a story.

Another variation is to have students choose vocabulary words from a reading comprehension passage while tossing the ball and have ball catchers explain what the words mean.

5. The Grand Story Book Costume Ball

Choose a party theme and have your 2nd-grade students make masks and hats inspired by a book character they have encountered in the unit or school year.

On the day of the ball, have them dress up and pretend to be their chosen characters and give a rule that during the ball, they can only talk about the events in the stories they’ve read.

kids wearing inspired book character costumes

For sure they will have a memorable and magical time in this activity!

6. Compare Characters With a Graphic Organizer

Ask your 2nd-grade learners to draw the shape of a human face and divide it with a line vertically.

Ask them to write the names of the characters they are comparing on each side of the face and attempt to draw their interpretations of what they look like. On the sides outside of the face, have them draw four boxes labeled “looks, character traits, problems, and actions” and have them fill these boxes with their analysis of the characters.

To wrap up the activity, ask the students how the characters are different and the same based on their analysis.

This is a great chance for students to use the vocabulary words from the story as they explain their views.

7. Reading Comprehension Cootie Catcher Game

Present a reading comprehension passage on the board.

Ask kids to make cootie catchers. You can walk them through the process or have them follow the instructions from this YouTube video below. Ask them to write reading comprehension questions inside the catchers.

Then, ask them to find a partner and take turns answering questions.

8. Draw a Story Map

Divide your 2nd-grade students into groups. Ask the groups to brainstorm what the setting of a story you’ve read would look like and have the students draw a map. You can also assign different stories to the groups as an end-of-unit activity. Ask them to label important landmarks in the story.

To wrap up the activity, ask group representatives to plot the journey of the main character in front of the class.

9. Create a Mind Map Using Sticky Notes

To effectively improve reading comprehension, activities for 2nd graders need to be varied and physical like this activity.

Divide the class into small groups. Give a story character, a stack of sticky notes, and a designated wall to each group.

Have them describe the character thoroughly and write their character traits, physical attributes, thoughts, emotions, etc. and then stick the notes to the wall. Encourage them to organize the notes in a sensible way. Ask group representatives to present their mind maps to the class.

10. Pass the Reading Comprehension Ball

This is another great, physical activity for 2nd-grade students that you can do in place of a boring reading comprehension worksheet.

Write generic reading comprehension questions that’ll work on any story on a beach ball using a marker.

Ask the student to stand in a circle and then play some music. Have them dance and pass the ball around. When the music stops, the student with the ball needs to answer the question where their thumb is on.

11. Pirate Island Treasure Chest Game

This is the most elaborate and exciting among the reading comprehension activities for 2nd graders I’ve listed so far.

For this, your 2nd-grade students need to race around towards a treasure chest drawing on the board. Divide the class into groups and have them answer comprehension questions about different reading passages. The first group to reach the treasure chest wins.

12. New Vocabulary Words Bingo

This is a must-have among your list of 2nd-grade reading comprehension games if you need a quick and exciting activity.

Ask your 2nd-grade learners to create bingo cards and fill them with the new vocabulary they’ve learned from the lesson. Call out the meaning of the words (not the words themselves) and see how many words the kids can define and cross out.

When they’ve mastered these words, it will help them grasp stories better, improving their comprehension skills.

13. Wordless Picture Game

Learning to draw conclusions or infer is crucial to developing comprehension and other reading skills.

Before reading, show different pictures showing the beginning, middle, and end of a story and have students guess what will happen to the story. Tell students to have fun writing their inferences and that there are no wrong or right guesses.

14. Draw a Comic Strip

Ask learners to choose their favorite scene from a story and turn this into a comic strip. Ask them to include actual dialogues from the book and draw their interpretation of what the characters look like.

Post their works on the classroom wall for everyone to see.

15. It’s Prediction Time

One of the most valuable comprehension strategies that students need in their reading toolbox is predicting.

Have students practice their predicting skills by showing several book titles on a worksheet and then making them guess what they are about. Have them write the reason behind their predictions.

16. Turn Stories into Mind Movies

During read-aloud time, ask students to use their five senses to imagine a scene from the story.

Based on the description given, how will their five senses perceive the situation if they were actually there? Have students build on each other’s answers.

17. Volcano Story Organizer

Draw a volcano on the board and divide it into three sections horizontally.

In the first layer, have students describe how the story began. In the second layer, have them summarize how the story progressed. In the last layer, discuss the ending of the story and write what lesson they learned in the lava overflow at the tip of the volcano.

Jump In: You cannot imagine how your 2nd graders will thank you for providing them with reading materials to improve their comprehension skills! Try visiting my article and give my list of books a try — 61 Best 2nd Grade Books.

Final Thoughts

As a final note, make sure not to focus on just one reading skill but allow your learners to practice all the comprehension strategies like predicting, visualizing, summarizing, and critical thinking through various activities.

If you do this, you will not only help your students hone their reading comprehension skills but will also open them to the world-expanding, life-giving joy of reading.

Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.

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