7 Creative Ways to Teach Reading in the Content Areas

Teaching reading in the content areas helps provide a double dip of reading instruction. For struggling readers, this is so helpful. Check out these strategies.

Teaching reading in the content areas provides students with a double dip of reading instruction. Believe it or not, reading skills and strategies are utilized even in math. By integrating language arts across the curriculum, we build students’ understanding not only of content area standards, but we teach them the value of using skills and strategies to learn.

In this post, I’ve consulted with other upper elementary bloggers to get their insight on ways they integrate reading instruction into the content areas. I hope you find this advise supportive for you and your students.

Teach reading in the content areas with mentor texts

Ronnie from A teacher’s Wonderland

When it comes to teaching reading in the content areas, there are numerous creative strategies that can make learning engaging and fun for elementary school students. Ronnie from A Teacher’s Wonderland loves using picture books to teach students a specific skill. For example, using the Recess Queen to teach main idea is a great way to be creative without taking away from your lesson.

Another great idea is to incorporate reading and science into your lesson plans. Ronnie read the book, Mae among the Stars, and then worked on a STEM project with the students. The students were engaged and excited to connect about a picture book and building a project based on the book. What a fun ELAmentary idea!

Integrate reading strategies with content area TEXTS

marissa from Creative classroom core

Marissa from Creative Classroom Core is a strong advocate for holistic education, and strongly believes in the value of integrating reading strategies into her social studies curriculum. By intengrating key reading strategies such as visualizing, questioning, and predicting, students are better able to comprehend intricate texts commonly encountered in social studies materials.

This infusion of reading skills not only heightens their understanding but also fuels critical thinking, prompting students to scrutinize evidence, raise questions, and derive informed conclusions within historical, governmental, and cultural contexts. Furthermore, this approach contributes significantly to enhancing vocabulary and language proficiency, as students engage with subject-specific vocabulary in a historical context.

Integrate reading strategies with content  area lessons by Creative Classroom Core

The beauty of interdisciplinary learning lies in its capacity to convey the interconnectedness of subjects, unveiling the tangible real-world relevance of their education. In Marissa’s perspective, the integration of reading strategies into social studies and other subjects equips students with essential tools to become more adept readers, critical thinkers, and well-informed citizens, ultimately elevating their academic journey and preparing them for a well-rounded education.

For more information on reading strategies, and ways to integrate them into your social studies curriculum, visit the Creative Classroom Core blog.

USE Graphic organizers for reading in the content areas


Teach Reading in the Content Areas with Graphic Organizers

Amber from TGIF suggests that using graphic organizers is an excellent way to teach reading in the content areas. Students can use graphic organizers to visualize information and organize their thoughts, making it easier for them to understand complex texts. For example, a Venn diagram can be used to compare and contrast different types of literary genres or compare and contrast two periods in history in social studies class, while a flowchart can be used to break down the steps involved in a scientific experiment.

Expand on reading genres while reading in the content areas

Vanessa from Longwing Learning

Vanessa from Longwing Learning has an incredibly fun method for teaching reading skills across various subjects. Her aim is to encourage students to explore a wide range of books related to their current topics, and she keeps a record of their reading progress while playing Bingo.

How to use the Genre Book Logs

First, she designs a bingo card tailored to the topic she is teaching using one of the Monthly Genre Book Logs. She transforms this into a captivating game she calls “Genre Streak.” The ultimate objective? To inspire kids to delve into various books, ignite their enthusiasm for reading, and have an absolute blast along the way.

Teach reading in the content area with monthly genre logs

Next, she showcases books that she selected that align with different genres within that particular subject. Whenever she or her students read a book from one of these genres, they color in a square on the bingo card.

The goal is to complete a row across, a column down, or a diagonal, just like in the regular bingo game. What a fun and creative way to make reading an exciting part of learning in the classroom!

Build curiosity for reading in the content areas


Tammy from The Owl Teacher strongly believes in the integration of language arts into science and social studies. She believes that this creates authentic reading, piques students’ interests, and builds curiosity.

What are some ways to integrate reading in the content areas beyond the textbook? In the post, “Tips to Create a Passion for Reading During Science,” Tammy gives 7 ideas on how to get started, including suggestions on texts for both students and teachers. Students are never too old for picture books out there that are perfect for teaching science concepts.

reading in the content area also includes vocabulary


Teaching vocabulary in math is more crucial than many might think. It’s not just numbers and equations; words play a big role in understanding math, too. Words like “sum,” “difference,” or “product” have specific meanings that help kids understand what they’re supposed to do in a math problem. If they don’t know these terms, they can get confused and make mistakes, even if they’re good at solving equations. Plus, when kids know the right words, it’s easier for them to talk about math problems, ask questions, and understand what the teacher is saying. So, teaching these domain-specific math terms helps kids improve in the subject and feel more confident in class.

Teach content area reading vocabulary to improve comprehension

While in-class word walls are great for students to have access to during the day, what happens when they get home and need help with homework? Tiffany from The Learning Effect has discovered an innovative approach to this issue: offering vocabulary resources through a class website. By uploading the exact definitions and examples discussed in the classroom, both students and parents can reinforce their vocabulary learning at home. Especially in subjects like math, which can be particularly challenging for parents unfamiliar with current teaching methods, incorporating a digital math word wall on the class website can be a game-changer.

It’s also important to allow students access to past vocabulary terms as the year progresses. For each content area, consider creating a subject-specific word wall or a vocabulary notebook. This allows students to easily reference terminology during units and look back at prior terms as they encounter new ones, making the learning journey more cohesive and integrated.

Comprehension strategies you can use for content area reading:

Question Answer Relationship (QAR)

Marissa touched on this topic, but I am going to expand on which strategies to use in the content areas. First of all, I recommend teaching your students to use Question-Answer Relationships to help them synthesize the questions posed and the information required to answer them. QAR helps students identify types of questions (Right There, Think and Search, Author and Me, and On My Own). Two types are text dependent (Right There and Think and Search). Author and Me questions are inferential questions, and On My Own are opinion questions meant to generate interest.

7 Creative Ways to Teach Reading in the Content Areas pin image

SQ3R (Survey, Questions, Read, Respond, Review)

Another oldie but goodie is SQ3R. This is a questioning process you teach students as they work with articles and textbooks. Students go through the 5 step process to learn whatever you’re teaching. It can be used to teach types of plants, steps in multiplication or any number of concepts. Grab my free handout that can be used with any lesson you choose.

Use Projects to teach reading in the content area

The last suggestion I’d like to add is to consider using projects and writing to incorporate reading comprehension skills. I have a product line of paper bag books, and two of them could be used with science or social studies nonfiction texts. They teach nonfiction text structures and nonfiction text features.

other posts you might like:

If you have any questions related to this post, you can reach out to any of the contributors linked in this article. Best wishes as you work to teach reading in the content areas.

Carla with Comprehension Connection