ESL | Reading Activity

READING lessons can be really dry, so it’s important to make it as fun as possible where you can. I’ve found a few ways to do this activity, depending on how much time you have, the lesson in question, and how much you want to challenge your students. I’ve used all of these in the past few weeks. The adaptability of this, and they fact it can be repeated, is fantastic, and my students had a riot in the best of ways.

I have found the hustle and bustle of this activity, and the help they give each other, encourages even the shyest of students to speak, because no one is “really” listening to them!

FIRST up, the mini book – Google: How to make a zine and there are all sorts of tutorials to help you fold these guys!

I have made these three ways, and for the second and third options, there’s a download at the end of the post.)

WITH 5th grade, this activity was split over two classes: one writing and one reading. This was my mock up for the writing lesson. This activity followed on from the game we had played a lesson prior to this, so we went through sentences and vocabulary from the lesson in question, and then I let their imaginations run wild. Not only does this approach allow great scope for creativity – which I feel is particularly important here in Korea at times – it also allows students with a wide range of abilities to complete this task, and complete it well. More advanced students can create more complex sentences, where as lower level students can keep it simple.  In many ways, it’s a great leveller, even though the content of each mini book varies student to student.

THESE mini books were then used the following lesson, more on that below.


WITH 6th grade, I took it down another route as I only had one lesson rather than two. Instead of every student making their own mini book, this time it was one per group. So that no one was left doing nothing, we went down the post-it note route. As with 5th grade, this utilized the target language from the lesson in question. I found that, rather than each silently writing their own sentences, the groups instinctively took it upon themselves to communicate with each other and jointly choose sentences so that there was no overlap.

I like these two methods as the students are choosing the sentences for themselves and writing them down, combining various learning skills and, hopefully, making the game easier as they are using sentences they’ve chosen. However, both these take time, and make this activity the focus of your lesson. If you want to make it a reading activity within a class, then there’s the third option of pre-made mini books. These are also useful to have on hand for any students who forgot or did not finish their mini books, students who were absent, or lower level students – you can make the judgement based on your individual classes!

SO far, so self explanatory. Use the lessons target language, make the books. So how does this transfer to a reading activity, and what do those symbols mean?


IN previous lessons, when I did this activity, each one of those pages would, instead, have a sentence on it. 7 sentences, printed twice, all laminated (because you know paper is going to be destroyed and when you have 8 classes, you don’t want to be printing things multiple times.

WHEN I was masterminding this activity, I was trying to work out how to make it more challenging, and make the resources as re-usable as possible. This was my solution. 7 symbols, printed twice, laminated, adaptable and re-usable. Again, the download is at the end of the post.

EACH symbol is a “stop” where the students have to read a sentence. I make my students point at each symbol as they read.

YOU may have noticed there are matching symbols on the mini book printable. The idea behind that was that students read the sentence matching the symbol. This is optional!

SO here’s how this activity works:

  1. Split the class into 4 groups.
  2. One group stands at each end of the line of symbols.
  3. One student from each group starts reading sentences , moving forward after each one.
  4. The students will inevitably meet, at which point they play rock-paper-scissors.
  5. The winning student can continue advancing down the line.
  6. The loser goes to the back of their group, and the next group member starts.
  7. The group gets a point every time one student successfully reads all 7 sentences.



THIS activity has gone down a storm in my classrooms. Everyone gets stuck in, they help each other out and there’s so much English used! It’s wild, it’s a riot, but it works!

I rounded these lessons out with a twist on the Korean Nunchi Game – more on that in a post to come – that the students also really love.

THE best bit about all of this – the students do most of the talking and their confidence sky-rockets!  It’s a good time all round, even if it is a bit of a strain on the ear drums. I’ll take it.


Reading Game Printables

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.