Literary Genre Activities & Games

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Literary genres are an integral aspect of a language arts curriculum. This lesson outlines several ideas for activities and games to engage your students in learning about literary genres.

Genre

Teaching language arts is no easy task. It is so much more than reading and writing. Think about the vast number of types of reading material you will use throughout the year. Autobiographies, articles, short stories, poems, and essays will all likely be read. Of course you will focus on the reading skills needed to comprehend each text, but each type of text has certain qualities that will also need to be taught to your students. In this way, the types of reading material are just as important as the reading skills you teach.

With this in mind, you must spend time teaching genre, which sets up categories of literature according to similar characteristics. The rest of this lesson describes some activities and games to reinforce instruction on genres.

Activities

Let's first look at some classroom activities.

Organize the Classroom Library

You may have assigned the job of organizing your classroom library to a specific student. However, you can also turn this task into a learning experience. At the beginning of the year, label shelves in your library as a number of different genres. Then have all the books in crates or on shelves in another location.

As students read your books throughout the year, have them decide which genre to sort it into. This way, your library can gradually become organized as each book is read by different students. If multiple students read the same book, they can discuss which genre it should be sorted into, and possibly even change it throughout the year. You can even get color coded stickers so students could mark each book as it is read.

Genre Poster

This activity is another collaborative effort that will grow as the year progresses. You can have students discover new genres and identify the characteristics by creating a large poster to keep on the wall of your classroom.

Design the poster so that books and other reading material can be sorted into a genre. To do this, create columns and rows. Label one column Genres, and another Qualities. As students decide the genre for whatever texts they read throughout the year, discuss the characteristics of that genre. Then add the qualities to the poster gradually. For instance, look at the following qualities of an autobiography.

  • Written in first person
  • Describes a person's life
  • Based on a real person
  • Facts and information are given

The first time the class reads an autobiography, they might only get one or two qualities on the poster. But the class can add more as more is read of that genre.

Genre Reviews

For this activity, students will be reading different books from a number of genres. After finishing a book, they must write up a book review describing the genre. They can either recommend the book and the genre or not.

As the reviews are completed, post them up around the classroom. This way, other students can read them and choose new reading material. Additional reviews of the same book can also be added to the wall of reviews.

Games

In this next section, let's look at some engaging genre games.

Book Sort

This game focuses on sorting different books by genre. Split your class into teams. Give each team the same number of books, hopefully ones they are familiar with. Next, give each team a list of genres. Finally, give each team a list of characteristics for those genres. Now, put up a timer.

Tell each team the first one to sort each book into its correct genre and each characteristic into the correct genre the fastest wins. They can look through the book and reads parts of it to help them decide.

Genre Match Game

For this game, students will only have the titles of books. Try to use books they have not read, but may be able to determine the genre from just the title. They will have to match the title to the correct genre.

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