3 Fun & Engaging Reading Comprehension Activities Perfect for Test Prep

Engaging students in reading comprehension activities can be so hard. As teachers, however, we know the importance of these skills. So working to keep reading comprehension lessons and activities fresh and fun is half the battle. It is so important to keep students engaged so they can fine-tune their reading comprehension skills. Sure, we can assign reading passage after reading passage, but who really wants to do that? Instead, let’s focus on some engaging reading comprehension activities that will make reading lessons fun!

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Find 3 Fun & Engaging Reading Comprehension Review Activities for Test Prep in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Included classroom games and activities for test prep review in the upper elementary classroom.

1. Beach Ball Reading Comprehension

Your students will love this whole class reading comprehension activity! It’s perfect for engaging even the most reluctant of readers. All you need is an inexpensive beach ball, a sharpie, and some questions. And to save time, you can use the already written questions that come with your textbook or reading curriculum.

Fun Reading review activities: use a beach ball with questions for a fun and engaging reading comprehension activity, game show buzzers in the classroom make answering questions fun, and color by code reading passages make learning fun! Perfect for review before testing!

I’ve found blow-up beach balls from my local dollar store. I always grab a couple of extras for backup. It is never a good thing when your ball pops mid-lesson in one of the most loved activities. Having a back-up ready to go will put you in the running for teacher of the year. 😉 If you can’t find them at your local dollar store, you can grab three 20 inch beach balls here for a super cheap price!

There are two ways you can prepare the ball. The first option is to write numbers on the ball. The numbers will coordinate with the question numbers. This gives you lots of versatility to use the ball for a variety of topics.

The second option is to write general questions that can be used with any book. Some questions I like to use include:

  • What is the setting?
  • Who is the main character?
  • Describe a character trait of one character?
  • What lesson can be learned from the store?
  • What happened in the beginning . . . the middle . . . and the end?

Once the ball is ready then you are ready for some reading comprehension fun!

After reading a text together as a class, I love to bring out the ball for our discussion time. I gently toss the ball to a student. After they catch the ball they find the number or question closest to their right thumb and answer it. Then they toss the ball to another student and we continue discussing the text letting the ball guide our questions.

The kids can’t wait to have their turn with the beach ball, and I get to assess their skills in a fun and different way.

2. Reading Comprehension with Games

Modifying Board Games

use board games to increase engagement

Turning any activity into a game is a great way to engage students. It’s pretty easy to do too! Since reading comprehension question prompts can be used for a variety of books or texts, it is easy to create a card set and use them again and again.

Many popular board games use cards. Replace the cards in the game with some prewritten reading comprehension questions. I like to use general questions so that the cards aren’t limited to one text. As students play, they will draw a card and answer the question before moving or taking their turn. Having a set or two of these ready-to-go cards is a great way to turn any lesson into a game.

Tumbling Tower Game

make your own reading game with a Jenga block tower for reading comprehension activities

Another easy-to-make game is the tumbling tower game like the popular Jenga game. Simply add a reading question stem to one side of the block.

If you’d like to prepare questions in advance you can color code questions for the different skills you will teach during the year. Store each set of blocks in a zip-loc bag by skill or topic. As you want to teach or review a skill, simply grab the bag with those questions. This makes it an easy way to create a game that focuses on the skills you are learning in class.

You can add these blocks to an independent center, use them for a whole class game or small group instruction. The students will love reading lessons with this fun game!

Tip: instead of buying the actual Jenga game, head to your local hardware store and pick up small scraps of wood for your game pieces or see if your local dollar store has its own version of the game.

Game Show Games

Game show buzzers can make answering questions fun for reading comprehension activities and test prep review in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.

Remember those general question cards you’ve used for the other games? Well grab them and you’ll be on your way to a fun game show-style class game. It’s easy to play a Jeopardy-style game, interactive tic-tac-toe, or a team game where students “buzz” in with the answer.

Divide the questions by topic or just randomly ask questions. If I do a team game, I like to give teams time to talk about the answer before sharing it. This allows students to learn from each other, explain their thinking, and prove their answers.

You can quickly and inexpensively add these game-building tools to your teacher toolbox. Whatever games you try, your students will be fully engaged while mastering important reading comprehension skills! 

I’ve used these game show buzzers in the past, and they work great for review games!

Game show buzzers can make answering questions fun for reading comprehension activities and test prep review in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.

3. Reading Comprehension Mystery Pictures

While this next reading comprehension activity uses a reading passage, I promise it’s not your average reading comprehension activity. In fact, my students beg to complete these activities. What is it you ask? It’s reading comprehension mystery pictures!

reading comprehension mystery pictures are a fun twist on the traditional reading passage

As students answer the questions, they use the corresponding code with their answer choice to color in the squares on the mystery picture. Students love trying to figure out what the image is. And, students can check their answers with their final picture. It’s a great alternative to the traditional reading passage, while still giving students the opportunity to practice those styles of questions.

Digital reading comprehension passages mystery pixels for the students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.

With the increased use of technology in the classroom and distance learning, these mystery pictures come in both a printable and digital format! The digital mystery pixel activities are so much fun, too! Students will complete these Google Sheets activities on a computer or tablet. As students type in the correct answer, pixels from the picture automatically appear.

As your students complete the reading comprehension mystery pictures, they will answer questions about the topics included in your standards:

  • Figurative language
  • Text Structure
  • Point of View
  • Author’s Point of View
  • Illustrations in Text
  • Compare/Contrast Fiction

These fun reading comprehension passages are perfect for independent practice, reading centers, homework, or small group instruction. They make a great change of pace during your final test prep lessons too!


I would love for you to try out my Reading Comprehension Mystery Pictures in your classroom. There’s no better way to see if a resource is a good fit than to give it a try. Grab the free samples below and give it a go! 

Save these Fun and Engaging Reading Comprehension Activities 

Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back when you need some new ideas for engaging your students in reading comprehension activities. All of these ideas are perfect for test prep review, too!

Fun & Engaging Reading Comprehension Activities Perfect for Test Prep Review! Includes test prep games and activities to review reading standards in upper elementary.


With skills-based activities for third, fourth, and fifth grades, you are sure to find some mystery pictures your students will love! You can find all of these Reading Comprehension Mystery Pictures in my store!

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