ELA Relay: An Elementary Reading Game

Y’allllll. We’re deep into January and everything is starting to feel blah. Do you know what I’m talking about? We’ve all been teaching the same routines with the same materials for about 6 months at this point, and it’s grey and cold outside, and everything is just the opposite of exciting. (except for the rogue snow day chance, which we have predicted snow heading straight for us this week in Nashville! Fingers crossed!!)

Because of this, I don’t think I can preach about properly citing text evidence one. more. time. The kids know. They know they should not be responding to text without referring to what the text actually says. They know they shouldn’t compare and contrast two articles that we read and put things like “I think kids in Alaska probably like soccer, too”, in the center of their Venn diagrams. And yet they do. 🤦🏻‍♀️

So, I wanted a way to spice it up, and ELA Relay was born!

We’re working on Cause and Effect right now, so this particular set focuses heavily on Cause and Effect. But I love it so much that I’m thinking about making compare and contrast and main idea next, because those skills are cycling back around for us!

Here’s the gist:

You put your kids in teams: the beginning of any great classroom game. You’ll need four teams for this game.

You set up four stations around your room with class sets of the four articles in the game, some highlighters, pencils, maybe some sticky notes, or some graphic organizers (depending on how you want to play the game).

You assign each team to a station, but they don’t go to that station until the time starts. They will do the actual work at their desks with their teammates. You want the stations to be clear in case one team finishes before another and needs to race and get the materials from the next station!

When you start the time (you can project one on your SMART Board so your kids can keep track of their time!), the kids are going to get the materials from their first station and get to work! They need to read the article, and chart evidence of the Cause and Effect (for this particular set of passages). You can have them provide evidence by writing it on sticky notes and racing it to a chart at that station, or you can print the graphic organizers that I have with these articles and have the kids work on that graphic organizer throughout all of the stations.

When the kids think they have found a strong cause and effect relationship, they need to clear it with you so you can take that teachable moment and help them refine their findings if needed! Then they can move on and get the articles from the next station.

When all teams have read all four articles and found cause and effect relationships, the game is over. This is a relay, so you can totally say that the first team is the winner. But I like to switch it up! I printed these winner certificates that are open-ended. You can name the team who worked together the best as the winner. You can name the team who found strong text evidence without help each time the winner. You can name the kindest team the winner…however you want to do it!

I love ELA Relay because it’s not super involved, and it’s relatively quick. It’s great test prep for the end of the year or the end of the unit. It’s fantastic for a half day that you need to still be academic, but you want to keep it light. It’s great for a Friday! I am excited to make more of them for my students!!

Stephanie Sutherland