Visual comprehension is the ability to listen to information that has been given orally, then remember it, understand it and use the information across a range of tasks. These activities can help develop skills in this area, and can be incorporated into lessons for the benefit of all pupils

Pupils who have difficulty in this area may have:

  • problems with understanding oral directions and instructions
  • a tendency to become easily distracted by classroom noise
  • poor attention and listening skills
  • a need for repetition of what has been said
  • some word-finding difficulties
  • reading comprehension problems
  • difficulty following more complex discussions
  • difficulty understanding information without visual and concrete cues
  • difficulty in understanding abstract concepts
  • poor organizational skills
  • kinesthetic strengths (learning better when actively involved in a lesson through movement and touch)
  • visual/spatial strengths (learn better from charts, diagrams, videos, demonstrations and other visual material)
  • good motor skills (and strengths in design and technology, art, PE and games).

Order the best-selling book A-Z of Special Needs for Every Teacher for lots more activities and help.

Activities to develop verbal comprehension skills

  1. Following directions 1 – in the classroom (eg. ‘Come and sit on the carpet’. ‘Line up by the door’).
  2. Simon says – using body movements (eg. ‘Stand on one leg’, ‘Raise one arm’).
  3. Following directions 2 – during PE, games and other physical activities.
  4. Following instructions 1 – using possessives (eg. ‘Put the book on my table’).
  5. Following instructions 2 – using adjectives (eg. ‘Pick up the red ball).
  6. Following instructions 3 – using the language of time (eg. ‘you can go out to play after you have put the toys away’).
  7. Listen and color – eg. ‘Color the big fish red and the little fish green.’
  8. Yes or no – true or false statements (eg. ‘A pig can fly. A fish can swim.’)
  9. Sense or nonsense 1 – ask pupils to listen and identify the sentence that makes sense.
  10. Match sentences to the correct pictures 1 – using high frequency verbs (eg. ‘The girl is jumping’).
  11. Match sentences to the correct pictures 2 – using prepositions (eg. ‘The cat is in the box’).
  12. Match sentences to the correct pictures 3 – using high frequency nouns (eg. Mum is in the garden).
  13. Sense or nonsense 2 – read, write and draw only those sentences that make sense.
  14. What am I? – listen and identify the item from a specific category (eg. animal, fruit, object) from oral sentence clues.
  15. What next? – oral story prediction.
  16. Everyday questions – adult to model asking questions related to familiar events and experiences (eg. ‘What did you do at the seaside?’ ‘Who went to the seaside with you?). Pupils then ask questions of each other related to familiar events and experiences.
  17. Following instructions 4 – follow a simple instruction sequence for a classroom activity using both pictorial and written clues.
  18. Time sequence – draw a flow chart of the main events in a story.
  19. Who am I? – ask the children to guess the person after listening to sentence clues (eg. story characters, occupations).
  20. Where am I? – ask the pupils to choose a location on a picture map after listening to sentence clues (using prepositions, left and right).
  21. Cause and effect – ask the pupils to complete a sentence orally (eg. ‘The tree fell down because…’, ‘The cat ran up into the tree because…’).
  22. Why? Because – story character motivation activities.

From A-Z of Special Needs for Every Teacher by Jacquie Buttriss and Ann Callander