Teaching students to text structure activities like problems and solutions for reading comprehension is a skill that we can all agree is essential for our students. By understanding what is being read, we can build more language skills, math skills, history skills, social skills, and so much more.
Since reading comprehension is such a basic building block, it is essential to talk about different reading strategies. While there are many to master, which you can find an overview in my blog about Reading Strategies for Comprehension: 15 Strategies You Must Teach Students to Master, we are going to focus on one of my favorite text structure activities today: Problems and Solutions.
If you want to catch up on specific reading comprehension strategies and text structure activities that I have blog posts full of information and ideas on main idea and key details, visualizing, comparing and contrasting, making predictions, and retelling. You can also download some free resources in some of these posts to help get you started teaching these strategies.
What are Problems and Solutions in Reading Comprehension?
Identifying problems and solutions within stories can help students understand what they are reading. It really points out why the author has written the story. Upon finishing a story with students, figure out who the main character is and what problem they had. Oftentimes in the readers, we have for students the problem is pretty clear. Identify the problem, then ask how the problem was solved. Were there others who helped solve the problem? How did they figure out how to solve the problem? Sometimes there are more than one problem and/or solution for even better discussion.
3 Examples of Fun & Engaging Activities to Teach Problems and Solutions
Obviously, you and your students can do the traditional reading of the story, then talk about the problem and solution. Where’s the fun in that, though? These ideas will keep your students engaged and entertained while learning an important reading comprehension skill.
Classroom Problems & Solutions
Sit down as a class and brainstorm problems that your students see in your classroom. Your students may come up with ideas you wouldn’t, but be careful to let your students know that this is not an attack on classmates or teachers, but about improvements that can be made to the classroom. For example, maybe the trash can is too far away from the sink, the whiteboard markers squeak, or there is a table that wobbles in the back of the class. Take one problem as a class, divide students into smaller groups, or have them work independently with a problem each. First, have your students identify how the problem may have come to be. Next, find out what exactly the problem is and why it is a problem. Finally, have them brainstorm the best solution they can come up with for the problem. Depending on your classroom, you can have your students write, draw, or present their problem and solution for the class.
Problem & Solutions Matching
Make sure each student has a T-chart labeled Problem on one side and Solution on the other. You can easily create these on whiteboards or print T-charts for each student. Come up with some great ideas of problems and solutions.
- Fire = Firetruck
- Rain = Umbrella
- Sun = Lemonade
- Grass = Lawn Mower
- Dirty Dog = Soap & Sponge
Cut out pictures of these items and more as you come up with different ideas, and allow your students to make matches of problems and solutions.
What’s The Problem
Another fun activity my class likes to do is called “What’s The Problem.” I give partners a problem such as I lost my coat. Their job is to come up with a three solutions that could go with that problem. They might write down “I checked the lost and found” or “my mom took me shopping to buy a new coat.”
Once they have three possible solutions they get with another set of partners and read them one of their solutions. Group two’s job is to identify what the problem could be. If group one says “I checked the lost and found” and group two says “I couldn’t find my lunch box” that would not be correct so group one will read their next possible solution, “my mom took me shopping to buy a new coat.” Group two now knows lost and found was checked and that mom took me shopping for a new coat so they should be closer to determining what the real problem was. If they don’t get it by the third possible solution, group one tells them what the problem was.
Reading Skills Bundles & Reading Comprehension Mini-Lessons
For mini-lessons specifically designed for teaching young learners about reading skills and reading comprehension, there are many resources available to you. Teaching Perks Teaching Resources has great options available for you to peruse here. There are specific text structure activities available for the common core standards of First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade, as well as a resource that is useful for any grade level.
Want to try a free sample retelling lesson that can be used with any book? This free download also comes with 12 amazing book suggestions that you can use with any retelling lesson.
There are lots of great options out there to explore Problems and Solutions as reading comprehension strategies with your students. The more practice you and your students get, the more natural searching for problems and solutions will be. If you are intrigued and want more already made text structure activities that teach crucial reading comprehension strategies, click here!
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