2nd Grade Reading Comprehension Games

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Second grade students are becoming more serious readers and beginning to need comprehension skills. This lesson gives you ideas for games you can create to use in your classroom.

Why Comprehension Games?

Second graders can have a wide variety of reading abilities - some are still decoding as they read, while others are diving into more complex text with a plot. Whichever level your second grade students are on, now's the time to start laying the foundation for solid comprehension skills. What does this look like?

For starters, students should start being made aware of strategies good readers use, like making mental images, or asking questions while reading. Additionally, they should be taught literary elements, such as plot, characters, and setting. These and other skills can be directly taught, then supported with whole and small group work, as well as center games. Let's take a look.

Story Elements

Start off directly teaching students the elements of stories, like characters, plot, setting, problem, and solution. Some students may be ready to identify theme or analyze character traits. Once students have practiced with whole and small groups, they'll be ready to apply skills independently. These games can be played in guided reading time or tucked into centers for independent application.


Create a game board for repeated use, or run copies and have students write directly onto a worksheet. The board should coordinate numbers on a die with a story element. For example, roll a one and tell main characters or the protagonist; roll a two and write the settings.

Using a familiar story or recently read book, students can play as a group, passing the dice, or independently, rolling until all story elements are filled in.

  • Variation - Allow students to work as a group, each filling out the section for the number rolled. Make sure all students' names are on the recording sheet.

Element Jars

After teaching story elements, fill empty glass or plastic jars with rice. Write story elements on small pieces of construction paper and laminate, then cut out. Place these in the jar of rice, then screw the lid on tightly. Students shake the jar to uncover a story element, then write or tell that element for the story they're reading.

  • Variation - Level jars and color code; for example, a yellow lid can mean basic story elements, a red lid more advanced. This way students are working on their developmental level.


Use any type of ball or object for the hot potato and have students take turns being the music magician (the one in charge of stopping and starting the music.) Students play by reading a story, then sitting in a tight circle passing the potato. When the music stops, the student holding the potato tells a story element and the music magician records it before resuming play.

  • Variation - To play independently, label the potato object with story elements. Students toss from right to left hand; when the music stops, the word touching the pointing finger is the element to tell or write.

Retelling Games

Students in second grade should start discriminating between main idea and supporting details. Help them navigate this terrain by playing some simple retelling games.

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