When my son used to read aloud, he sort of sounded like a robot. It always left me wondering, “Does he really comprehend the story or is he just reading the words?” To satisfy my curiosity awhile back, I got him a new Level 1 easy reader Hot Wheels book called Volcano Blast!
Then I created a crossword puzzle whose hints and answers all related to the story. To do this, I used Discovery Education’s free online Criss Cross puzzlemaker. I kept the clues to a minimum (only 9), left the default settings for the number of squares as is (Width 50; Height 50), and made the puzzle squares large enough for his giant handwriting (square size = 50).
After he read the book, I gave him the puzzle and explained how the answers to the clues would either be written across or down with one letter in each box. I answered the first question as an example.
To my surprise, he did a great job remembering the story details! In order to spell the words correctly, though, he had to turn back to the pages of the book and locate the answer words.
Although the crossword squares were larger than what you’d find in the local newspaper, they still challenged my son’s fine motor skills. Not only that, but now he knows how to spell the word ‘lava.’