I am a HUGE fan of teaching genre in upper elementary. Teaching our students all about the different genres helps them figure out the types of texts they enjoy reading.
The more time you spend being intentional about teaching genre and exposing your students to a wide range of genres, the more likely your students are to be able to self-select books they enjoy reading.
Anytime you sit down to read a text with your students, you should spend just a few minutes talking about the genre of that text.
So whether you are teaching a mini-lesson, doing a read aloud, or conducting a strategy group, here are three games you can play that will help your students learn more about each genre.
1. Name That Genre – This is a quick and easy game that you can play with your students every time you sit down to read as a class (or even small group). Name That Genre is very similar to playing Name That Tune.
Have your students as a whole group decide how many clues they think it will take them to identify the genre of the text you are about to read.
Once they have decided on the number of clues they want, you provide them with the clues (but only the number they decide). You can share attributes of the genre, the title, the author, anything you think that will help them identify the genre.
After you have given them the clues, let them take a guess at the genre of the text. I suggest having a designated spokesperson for the class. This could become one of your classroom jobs and could change everyday. It’s helpful to have a spokesperson so you don’t have a bunch of students calling out answers all at once.
If the class correctly guesses the genre, they get a point. If they don’t, you can keep giving them clues until they can identify the genre, but you get the point.
This is a fun and easy way to talk about genre, it doesn’t take much time, and we all love a teacher vs. class competition.
2. Play 2 Truths and a Fib – This is another easy way to talk about genre. If Name That Genre doesn’t sound like something your class would like, or if you want to switch it up, you can play 2 Truths and a Fib. Before you start reading the text, you can provide three statements about the genre of the text. The students have to decide which one is a fib and use the two truths to figure out the genre.
Example: Let’s say you were going to read The Sandwich Swap to your class. This text is an example of realistic fiction. These might be the clues you share with your class to see if they can guess the genre.
#1 – This text has characters who have to overcome a challenge.
#2 – The author wrote this book to inform you about how to make sandwiches.
#3 – The problem in this book is something you could probably relate to.
If students use what they know about genre, they know that #1 and #3 would go together and are describing a realistic fiction text. They should be able to eliminate #2 as the fib and realize that the purpose of most fictional texts is to entertain the reader.
3. Genre Tournament – This one takes a little more planning and intention, but is still a lot of fun. Every month (or at the beginning of the year) you can host a Genre Tournament. You can set up the bracket, or even let your students help you set up the bracket. Basically you are going to compare and judge read alouds from two different genres and let your class decide which one they think is superior.
You keep pairing the genres in the tournament using a bracket until you have established the winner and the genre your class has determined is the best. A genre tournament is fun for students and a great reminder for teachers to be intentionally reading a variety of genres throughout the year.
Now you have three fun and engaging games you can play with your student that will help them learn more about the attributes of each genre. Don’t forget to try and make it a point to talk about genre each time you sit down to read with your students.
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Reading Genre Inventory
This reading inventory is a fun way to help students figure out what genre they should read next! Students can go through this “choose your own genre” inventory several times and get different answers each time. It’s such a fun way to help students explore different genres.