For Parents: Some Online Games that Teach Comprehension Strategies for 1st/2nd Class approximately

In our school there is a Whole School Approach to

learning comprehension using the strategies from

Martin Gleeson’s ‘Building Bridges of Understanding’. 

The following is adapted  for our school

from resources for ‘First Steps’ from the PPDS website.

E =  We Expose , T= We Teach, M = We Maintain.

    J.I.   S.I.  1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th 
 Think Aloud  E  T  M  M  M  M  M  M M
 Prediction  E  T  M  M  M  M  M  M M
 Visualisation  E  T  M  M  M  M  M  M M
 Making  Connections  E  T  M  M  M  M  M  M M
 Questioning    E  T   M  M  M  M M M
 Monitoring  Comprehension:  Clarifying                E  T  M  M  M M M
 Monitoring  Comprehension:  Declunking        E T  M  M M M
 Determining  Importance          E  T  M   M
 Inference          E  T  M  M
 Synthesis              E  T
 Application of  Strategies  E  E  E T  E  T  M  M  M  M


The following games will give you an idea

of what many of these strategies involve 

and will give your child a little practice.


Though some of these strategies are not

taught formally until the middle and senior

classes, it is good to give your child practice.


You might like to concentrate on

one or two strategies a week

from the list of those being covered

in First and Second Class

and gradually build up your child’s skills.


1. Prediction: 

Prediction game from Phil


2. Visualisation: 

Visualizing activity from Blue Ribbon Readers


3. Making Connections: 

Making Connections from Blue Ribbon Games


4. Questioning: 

The Questioning Cube from Blue Ribbon Games


5. Monitoring Comprehension by clarifying and ‘declunking’

(‘Declunking’ is the process of breaking up a word into syllables

in order to pronounce it correctly and understand its meaning.)

The Fridge Game from Blue Ribbon Readers requires students

to identify confusing words (by monitoring)

and replace them with words

that make sense of the sentence (clarifying)


6. Determining Importance:  

Blue Ribbon Readers – The Hamburger Game


7. Inferring: 

Inferring using riddles from Phil

and The Detective Game from Blue Ribbon Readers


8. Synthesis is a complex process

and is taught in Senior Classes

but here is a simple game that

introduces it from Blue Ribbon Readers


You can read more about comprehension strategies here.

Comprehension; Detective Work; Inference and Prediction (1st/2nd Class approximately)

junior detective
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jessica Lucia via Compfight

Comprehension doesn’t sound like fun,

but it is.

It is like being a detective.

Inferring doesn’t sound like fun either.

But try this game from Phil

and we think you will change your mind

Prediction is something we enjoy doing.

Especially when we play this game in class.

School work can be fun when you know how.

Comprehension: Visualization + Making Connections – Summer Poems: ‘Summer Morning’ by Rachel Field + ‘Sunflakes’ by Frank Asch

Summer Morning

by Rachel Field

I saw dawn creep across the sky,

And all the gulls go flying by.

wham:a different corner
Photo Credit: Lali Masriera via Compfight

I saw the sea put on its dress

Of blue midsummer loveliness,

The forest floor
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Justin Kern via Compfight

And heard the trees begin to stir

Green arms of pine and juniper.

I heard the wind call out and say:

‘Get up, my dear, it is today!’


Starburst and Beach Grass On Turquoise free creative commons
Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt via Compfight


by Frank Asch

If sunlight fell like snowflakes,
gleaming yellow and so bright,
we could build a sunman,
we could have a sunball fight,
we could watch the sunflakes
drifting in the sky.
We could go sleighing
in the middle of July
The Bamboo Forest and some great Twitter Lists to follow
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff via Compfight
through sundrifts and sunbanks,
we could ride a sunmobile,
and we could touch sunflakes—
I wonder how they’d feel.

A Visualization based on ‘Winter Song’ by by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

Today we listened to a beautiful song:


‘Winter Song’ by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

This is what Matthew drew.


‘Winter Song’ was familiar to many of the students

because it is currently being used in an often repeated

advertisement on the television.


We studied the lyrics.

We used our imagination

and we sketched some pictures

that the lyrics put into our heads.


Then we took a look at a

wonderful animation on Vimeo

to inspire us even further.

‘Winter Song’ by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson


Initially we used white chalk

on black sugar paper.

Then we added colour.

This is what we did:


These are the results:

Winter Pictures in Chalk on PhotoPeach


We would love to hear what you think of our artwork.

Do leave a comment.

We would love to hear from you.

If you would like to comment,

please double click

‘Continue Reading’ below

and a comment box will appear.

A Word to the Wise:

Please don’t leave your child to explore Vimeo or Photopeach unattended  :)

The internet is a portal to the world outside. Children should be supervised.

Visualizing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’

We visualized what happens in the song

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’

Here is a detail from Shauna’s visualization:

Here is JC’s very detailed visualization:

Double click on JC’s picture

to see the ‘twelve lords a-leaping.’

Letter after the Parent Teacher Meetings

Dear Parents,

As the Parent Teacher Meetings draw to a close

I thought it would be useful to ‘recap’

on what was said at them.


At the PT Meetings you saw

our system of record keeping in the school.

We also looked at reports from other years.

We examined the recurring themes in those reports;

the positives,

and where we may need to focus with your child.


In many cases, this was in the area of

English comprehension

and tables and computation in Maths. 


We looked at standardized test results from other years.

The test results we looked at were from last May,

a time when children would not have developed ‘exam skills’.


A test is just a ‘snap shot’ in time.

For more information on Standardized Tests

you might like to take a look at

Information about Standardized Tests from elsewhere on this blog


Looking at your child’s copybooks and workbooks

give a much better overview of how your child is progressing.

We compared the children ability as indicated

in those standardized tests

with the day to day work that they do in class.


Many parents spoke about the difficulty

of fitting in time for tables.

At the moment we are also learning how to take away using

the ‘decomposition’ or ‘renaming’ or ‘regrouping’ method.


In class I note that children think

that they are not getting the sums right

because they aren’t ‘renaming’ correctly,

but more often than not it is that

they have made a mistake when they take away.


So we will continue working them.

You may find the following useful from

The Importance of Learning Tables (from this blog)


Ways of learning

In 1st and 2nd Class we practise tables,

in a concrete way, using lollipop sticks and unifix cubes.

We also use the table book.


In school we use Joyce O’Hara’s

Addition and Subtraction CD

from Ashton Productions


In class we say ‘one and zero make one’,

one and one make two’…

‘one from six leaves five’.

In this way we use the same language as this cd.


Children learn in different ways.

Many respond to working with concrete objects;

lollipop sticks,



Some children learn best by singing or chanting the table.

For some, keeping track of their tables on their fingers

(a kinaesthetic approach) helps.


Strategies to help your child with addition

At some meetings I spoke about strategies we teach children

to help them when they are adding up.

I said I would follow up with more details.


In class I say to the children:

1. Start with the larger number.

It is easier to add 11 and 2 rather than tot up 2 and 11.


2. When adding nine, add 10 and

take away one or to remember the pattern:

Adding 9 to a number the number in the unit place

is always one less.

When adding nine, add ten and then take away one.


3. If you are totting up three numbers,

spot can you make ten with two of the numbers

and then add the other.


4. If you know your ‘Table of Doubles’

and that 7 and 7 are 14,

then it is easier to work out ‘near doubles plus one’ 7 and 8,

near doubles take away one 7 and 6

or near doubles plus two 7 and 9

near doubles minus two 7 and 5.


The children have been revising the ‘Table of Doubles’

for homework this week.

This is so that they can use ‘near doubles’ to add up quickly.


You might find this more detailed link useful:

Strategies for Learning Tables


This may seem a lot and a bit confusing,

but each time we work through a page of sums

I remind the children of these strategies.


The other ‘hiccup’ in computation,

occurs when children are required to ‘take away’

across the 10.

Ask a child to take 7 from 10 and

they will say 3 with confidence.

This is because they are very sure of ‘what makes 10’.


However when one asks a child a sum like 17 take away 9,

they are less sure of the answer.


One of the solutions is for the child to learn

the ‘make up’ of 20 and be as sure of it as they are of 10.


The other solution is that the child learns to ‘bridge the 10’.

Take that sum 17-9 again:

The children are fairly secure in the knowledge

that 7 steps will bring them back to 10

‘Nine is one less than ten. So you add 7 and 1

and the answer is eight’.


Another question parents asked was

How do I help my child with comprehension?

When you read with your child check that they understand

what they are reading by asking them questions.


I have noticed that when children aren’t

observing the punctuation

on a page they lose the meaning of what they are reading.


Sometimes, in the early days when children are doing

comprehension exercises in school,

they attempt to answer the questions

without reading the piece!


To start with, the children are asked

1. to read the piece of comprehension.

2. To read the questions underlining

what they are being asked.

This means they will be reading the piece

with the questions in mind.

They will be reading with a purpose.

3. To read the piece again with the questions in mind…

underlining what they think would be useful.

4. Then to go through the questions one by one,

looking for the answers in the comprehension piece

and writing down the answers.

As they get good at this, there is less need for underlining.



You could even do them orally. Try the Second Grade Ones.

When these are complete have a go at

some of the Third Grade ones.




Question words like ‘Who?’ ‘Where?’ ‘When?’ ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ may help.


I found the Parent Teacher meetings very helpful.

I feel I know your child much better now.

I am very grateful for your continued co-operation

and support.

An edited version of this letter

will be going home on paper shortly.

Visualizing scenes from ‘The Hodgeheg’ by Dick King Smith

We are following the programme in comprehension:

‘Building Bridges of Understanding’.

We are learning comprehension strategies.


As a whole-school, we concentrated on ‘prediction’ in September and October.

Now we are practising ‘visualization’.

We are reading ‘The Hodgeheg’ by Dick King Smith.

We are also learning a lot about hedgehogs and road safety in class too.

Nicole drew this one:

We drew lots of pictures to illustrate The Hedgehog Family:

Ma, Pa, Peony, Petunia, Pansy and Max.

This is Owen’s one to show you the family…

‘… sitting in a flower-bed at their home,

the garden of Number 5A

of a row of semi-detached houses

in a suburban street.
This is Julia’s

Some other children also drew what they could visualize when we read:

‘On the other side of the road was a Park,

very popular with the local hedgehogs

on account of the good hunting it offered.


As well as worms and slugs and snails,

which they could find in their own gardens,

there were special attractions in the Park.


Mice lived under the Bandstand,

feasting on the crumbs

dropped from listeners’ sandwiches;


frogs dwelt in the Lily-Pond,


and in the Ornamental Gardens 

grass-snakes slithered through the shrubbery’.

JC included all these special features.

Here are our visualizations:

Visualizing ‘The Hodgeheg’ by Dick King Smith on PhotoPeach

Here is an Animoto of our work:


We would love to hear what you think of our work.

If you would like to comment,

please double click

‘Continue Reading’ below

and a comment box will appear.

A Reminder:

Please don’t leave your child to explore online unattended
The internet is a portal to the world outside. Children should be supervised.

Visualizing ‘It Was A Dark And Stormy Night’ by Allan Ahlberg

We are working on comprehension strategies

in reading, following the

‘Building Bridges of Understanding’ programme.


We spent the first six weeks of the school term

predicting what was going to happen next

in the stories we read.

Now we are adding ‘visualization’ to our skill set.

Teacher has read six short novels in class this year.

This one is our favourite by far.


“…Outside a light wind was blowing

the last of the storm clouds away.

In the east there was a glow,

and streaks of pink and violet

and duck-egg green tinged

the darker edge of the sky”.


From: ‘It Was A Dark And Stormy Night’

by Janet and Allan Ahlberg


Teacher thinks Nicole has visualized the sky at dawn, very well:

We all worked hard on ‘visualizing’ as you will see:

‘It Was A Dark And Stormy Night’ by Allan Ahlberg 

As always I would remind you to supervise your child when they are online.

Jake visualizes ‘The Pirate Ship’.


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