7 Art Activities to Practice Reading Skills

7 Art Activities to Practice Reading Skills

The sudden shift to remote learning has been challenging for teachers, students, and parents alike.

For students, it can be difficult to maintain the same level of focus at home as within the school walls, where each day is structured yet provides some variety. When the enriching experiences offered by the physical school environment are lacking, the hours can blur together for students trying to learn digitally and remain productive at home.

During this strange moment in history, many of us are foregoing our screens in favor of playing board games, dusting off arts and crafts supplies, or otherwise becoming reacquainted with non-electronic pastimes. Rather than seeing these fun and creative activities as being separate from home-based schoolwork, why not take the opportunity to integrate the two? While children's imaginations may seem boundless, a little nudge to truly unlock their creative potential can't hurt.

Without further ado, here are our suggestions for seven art activities to practice reading skills at all levels:

Foundational Readers:

Paper Chains for Word Learning

Word chains are a set of words that change by one sound at a time, and word necklaces go one step further by starting and ending with the same word: bat --> bet --> bit --> big --> pig --> pin --> pit --> pat --> bat. Have kids write word chains on interlocking loops of paper to create a necklace.

Photo Booth Phonics

With this fun activity, you can reinforce sounds and letters by having kids say each letter as they write their names, along with the sound that the letter makes. Then, have them take photos of things around the house that begin with those letters or sounds.

Foundational and Intermediate Readers:


By reading stories, kids travel to incredible places—even when they can't leave home. With this in mind, have your child create a map of a fictional setting from a favorite book. Encourage them to include details from the story, and engage them in discussing different parts of the map as they work.

What's Going on Here?

Find an interesting picture or photo and ask questions about it: What is happening here? What do you think happened just before this photo was taken? What do you think will happen next? Questions like these will help kids make inferences based on clues in the words they read or the illustrations they see.

Intermediate Readers:

Similes and Metaphors and Figurative Language, Oh My!

Similes are comparisons of two things using like or as: She swims like a fish. Metaphors are comparisons in which one thing is said to be another: Your room is a pigsty. Talk about the meanings of the following similes and metaphors, and have kids illustrate each one:

  • I'm as hungry as a bear.

  • He was as slow as a snail.

  • It is as light as a feather.

  • The mall was a zoo.

  • My hair is a bird's nest.

  • You are my sunshine.


Just Like Me, Totally Different, or Somewhere in Between?

Comparing and contrasting—looking at how things are alike and how they're different—is a great way to improve reading comprehension. Have your middle-schooler illustrate a character from a familiar book and draw themselves next to the character. Ask them to describe (in writing or out loud) how they're alike and how they're different.

Poetry Slam

Poems are more than just written words, and reading a poem aloud reveals the power of rhythm and rhyme. Have your middle-schooler create a beat to go with an assigned poem or one they find on their own. Just tapping a pencil on a table will work! Then, have them record themselves reading the poem in rhythm with the beat.

We hope these ideas will encourage imaginations to soar!

Teachers, as always, feel free to share these suggestions with your students and families. Families, we’ll continue to bring you simple, at-home activity ideas to promote literacy over the coming weeks.

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Featured White Paper:

Dyslexia: How to Recognize the Early Warning Signs and Provide Effective Intervention

Read this whitepaper by Dr. Pam Hook to learn how to recognize the warning signs of dyslexia at each grade and how to provide the appropriate interventions so that students become successful readers and motivated learners. 

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