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Reading Activities for Second-Grade Children

by Debbie McCarson, studioD

As second-grade students progress in their reading skills and read more fluently with greater comprehension, reading becomes a pleasure. With support and encouragement, young students begin to realize that a whole world is opening up to them through books. Help second-graders connect to literature with activities that align with Common Core Standards.

Go on a Reading Treasure Hunt

Encourage second-graders to make reading a part of life. Get your second-grade student his or her own library card. Teach him how to do a subject and title search in the card catalog and locate the books on the shelf. Hunt for a “treasure chest” at a thrift store or yard sale. On colorful index cards, write suggestions for card catalog searches that would appeal to a second-grade student, such as, “How big is the biggest frog in the world?”, “How do you make a paper airplane?” or “Read a story about a boy and his dog.” Put the cards into the chest. Before going to the library, have your child pick a card from the treasure chest and encourage him to locate the information at the library.

Build Vocabulary

Help second-grade students build vocabulary with activities that activate information processing on multiple levels. Have students trace their hands several times on construction paper and cut out the hands. One one side of a hand, write a vocabulary word gleaned from a current reading selection. Turn the hand over. On the palm, write a sentence using the vocabulary word. Write a synonym on the thumb. Write an antonym on the pinkie, and write the definition on the middle finger.

Analyze Characters

Explain to second grade students that we get to know literary characters by their words, thoughts, and actions and interactions with others. On the center of the board, write the name of one of the characters in your current reading selection. Create columns labeled “words,” “actions” and “thoughts.” Brainstorm with your students to fill in each column. Discuss what these things tell us about the character’s personality. Explain to students that each story has a protagonist (the good guy) and an antagonist (the bad guy). Have them create a “Wanted” poster for the antagonist, listing character traits and plot elements as proof of his misdemeanors. Provide examples of old “Wanted” posters for inspiration.

Identify Literary Elements

Help students map literary elements in a story. Read a picture book to students. When finished, make columns on the board titled “characters,” “setting,” “problem,” “events (plot)” and “solution.” Defining each term, brainstorm with the class to identify specific elements in the story that belong in each column. Then give students a graphic organizer with the same terms. Have them select and read a picture book from the classroom library and try to fill in the organizer on their own.

About the Author

Debbie McCarson is a former English teacher and school business administrator. Her articles have appeared in "School Librarians’ Journal" and "The Encyclopedia of New Jersey." A South Jersey native, she is a regular contributor to "South Jersey MOM" magazine.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images