3 Activities That Will Help Your Students Understand Genres | Mentoring in the Middle

3 Activities That Will Help Your Students Understand Genres

 What's the best time of year to introduce genres to your students?  How about during the first weeks of school?  

genre activities for upper elementary

Genre study at the beginning of the year makes sense.  It creates an overview of all the reading your students will be doing in your class.  Here are some ideas that can help you get started.

Where do you stand?: Tell your students that you're going to name a genre.  When they hear it, they're to get up and line themselves across the room on the diagonal (the best way for me to fit them all in one straight line) from "I totally hate it" in one corner to "It's my favorite thing" in the other.  Then name a genre (I find fantasy and realistic fiction are two of the most popular, although graphic novels are high up there, too.)

Try a couple of genres.  Have them do it without talking.  Some kids won't be sure and will position themselves smack in the middle.  Others will have definite opinions and move to a corner.  They may be surprised to see who else is standing nearby.  It's a great way for them to learn about each others' reading interests!

Book Tastings: Book tastings are a great way to introduce books to students, and you'll often find they're interested in books they didn't expect to be intrigued by.  

There are two ways you can do this.

The first way is to create stations with a group of books by genre.  You can move four desks together or use tables if you have them.  Put about a dozen or so books on the table.  Set up enough genres of books on tables or desks so that 4-5 students can sit for a while.

The second way is to put a random group of books at each table or set of desks.

Either way, students will get to "taste" some of the books.  I tell my students that they will have one minute to take a book, look at the front and back cover, and maybe skim or start reading the first page.  When the timer goes off, they have to put that book down and pick up another one.  I do about 5 rounds at each station.

I also have my students carry a sheet to record books they might want to read.  Some use their iPads to take pictures of covers.

This is a great way to get kids interested in books they might not have otherwise considered!
Teaching: Finally, once they've had a good taste of books and have started to figure out their likes or dislikes, I start teaching the rules of each genre.  I find it's much more meaningful once they've had the chance to see some books, first.

You can even play "Name the Genre" with them.  Hold up a book, read them a sentence or paragraph and have them guess the genre.  
This Genre Activities product gives you:

  • 3 differentiated note pages for each genre - great for Interactive Notebooks
  • Game of task cards with multiple book summaries for each genre
  • "I Have, Who Has" game
  • Crossword puzzle
  • Directions for each of the activities
  • Answer keys

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