Language comprehension activities for 5-year-olds

Updated July 20, 2017

Language comprehension is the ability of a child to understand the spoken word. Before he can learn to read and write, a child needs to be able to understand language. Language comprehension activities help children develop an understanding for speech, and should provide opportunities to learn various types of language genres and understand different speakers. The child's development of language comprehension will affect his ability to converse as an adult, which makes language comprehension activities fundamental for any 5-year old.

Description Activities

Children not only learn vocabulary by describing pictures, but also learn to pay attention to details and when to use new words. Teachers and parents can cut pictures from magazines, print images from the Internet or use pictures in books. Teachers should ask children what they see on the pictures and to try to make their descriptions as detailed as possible. Teachers can help add on details as examples to the children. Another idea is to ask children to make up a story about the picture they see. Again, teachers should instruct the kids to make the stories as detailed as possible.

Book Discussions

Reading books aloud is one of the most used and beneficial activities to improve language comprehension. Discussing the books before, during and after improves language comprehension even more. As the quality of the discussion is more important than the amount of time discussing the book, it is important to involve children in making predictions, talking about new words, and reflecting on the end of the story to improve language comprehension. For fiction stories, it is preferable to have as few interruptions as possible. Teachers should decide in advance the parts of the book that are important to discuss in between the reading.


Dramatisation can help children develop oral language skills, especially social language skills. This is an activity for small groups of children. If the kids compose a bigger group, they can be separated into smaller ones to be able to receive the most benefits from this activity. One dramatisation activity is to act out a story from a book recently read. Children should decide on their roles beforehand. Teachers can add spin-offs to the story to help develop the children's imagination and problem-solving skills. Another idea is for children to create their own stories, or for the teacher to give them just a few pointers.


Children can greatly benefit from one-on-one activities with teachers or caregivers. A structured time for individual conversations with the teacher can help children feel important and more ready to share with the teacher, which helps children practice language comprehension. Teachers and caregivers should allow the kids to control the subjects being discussed and encourage children to use new words and to add details. It is important for teachers to support the children's efforts to communicate and to have patience when they cannot find the right words to explain their points. Teachers should allow children to share about their experiences and interests, and teachers should also share theirs, to create a bond with the students.

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About the Author

Lucia Mata has been writing since 2008, covering parenting and design topics. Her work has appeared in both English and Spanish publications. Mata has an Associate of Arts in interior design from Salt Lake Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Utah Valley University.