Using Mad Libs in the Classroom: Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary (Gr. 4-6)

Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary (Gr. 4-6)

Supplement your upper elementary reading and language arts lessons on reading comprehension and vocabulary with these activities for use with Mad Libs® books. Or, allow your students to enjoy Mad Libs® online!

Reading Comprehension (Gr. 4-6)

Use Your Head!
Have students complete a Mad Libs® story in the traditional way. Then have them treat the same Mad Libs® selection as a Cloze exercise. This time, encourage them to think about context clues provided by other words and sentences in the story and do their best to create a story that makes sense. Have partners take turns reading the selection aloud and explaining why they chose each word.
Guess the Story
Remind students that the main idea of a story tells what it is all about. Point out that they can expand on this main idea by adding supporting details. Pair students and have each one select a Mad Libs® story they have both completed. Have them each write the main idea and several supporting details telling about the selection. Then have them read aloud their sentences and challenge their partner to identify the selection.
A Call for Order
Have each student select a Mad Libs® story in which there is a definite sequence of events. Have students summarize these events on index cards. Then have students mix up the cards and give them to a partner to reorder in the correct sequence. Encourage students to check their sequence against the story text.
What's the Reason?
Some Mad Libs® selections lend themselves to an examination of cause and effect. Begin by defining each term. Then have students review Mad Libs® selections looking for cause-and-effect relationships. Distribute index cards and have students write the causes in one color and the effects in another color. Have students exchange cards and work independently to match each cause with its effect. Then have partners discuss their pairings.

Vocabulary (Gr. 4-6)

Same and Different
Review that synonyms are words that have nearly the same meaning, while antonyms are words that have opposite meaning. Have students look through completed Mad Libs® selections and choose five words that have synonyms or antonyms. Have them check a dictionary and list other word possibilities. Then have partners slot some of these words and discuss how changes in vocabulary affect the story meaning.
Onomatopoetic Words
Remind students that onomatopoetic words are words whose sounds are similar to the nouns they represent. Challenge students to review Mad Libs® selections for examples of these words, such as pop, clang, meow, and crash. Have students use colored markers and explore writing the words so that their appearance mimics their sound.
All in the Family
Review with students the traditional way to complete a Mad Libs® story. Point out that another way is to review the story title and then brainstorm word lists associated with the story topic. Explain that words from these lists can then be slotted in the story. Illustrate by sharing the following lists, which might be brainstormed for a story about Columbus and Queen Isabella.

Nouns: New World, jewels, gold, voyage
Verbs: sail, discover, search, confused
Adjectives: brave, adventurous, dangerous, exotic
Adverbs: carefully, bravely, quickly, easily

Have students use both approaches to complete several Mad Libs® stories. Have them compare the results and discuss which they like best and why.

Pretty Versus Breathtaking
Remind students that words such as pretty, ugly, sad, big, small, walk, and run are often overworked. Point out that using more vivid words such as breathtaking or hideous can add liveliness to a Mad Libs® story. Have students use a dictionary or a thesaurus to create a list of alternatives for commonly overworked words. Then encourage them to refer to these lists when completing a Mad Libs® selection.

More Mad Libs® Teacher Guide's

© 2010 Penguin Group (USA). All rights reserved.

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