Thursday, February 23, 2012

Building Automaticity: Carrera de palabras/Word Race

Don't forget about our giveaway of Blooming Writers/El escritor floreciente! You can submit comments until noon CST tomorrow (Friday, February 24th)!

There is a lot of emphasis on fluency these days.  If a student is struggling with fluency in reading, we first identify what type of fluency work needs to be done.  Does the student first need to develop automaticity with decoding and calling words?  Or, if automaticity is already in place, does he need work with prosody to make his reading sound like talking?  

Word Race is an excellent game for those students that fall in the first category of needing automaticity with individual word reading.  More games/activities for the second category to come soon!

To make the Word Race game, print three copies of the word race game board.  Glue one copy into the file folder.  Glue the other copies onto two different colors of construction paper and cut out individual cards.  Place cards in a plastic bag or envelope attached to the file folder along with two counters that match the colors of the cards.

Word Race is played in pairs of students.  With younger students in grades K-2, I will often have them play in groups of three so that the third student can be available to assist with reading and make sure no one "accidentally" cheats.  

Both students put their color counters at START or COMIENZO.  They begin reading each of the cards in their pile EN VOZ ALTA.  Yes, I did just code-switch because this is super-important  Each word must be read out loud.  When a student reads aloud a card that matches the next word on the game board, he moves his counter to that word and makes a mental note of what word he will be watching for next.  One more important thing...word cards must be moved from front to back of the stack.  For the little ones that can't hold all of the cards in their small hands, you can have them place the cards in a pile on the table or floor.  Students are NOT allowed to shuffle through the cards looking for the next word.  
This game works on automaticity because the students will read one set of 10-20 words (depending on the gameboard) over and over and over AND they think it is fun.  Another thing I love about this game is that winning the game is mostly based on luck and not necessarily because of skill.  This is a good thing for the struggling student that is easily discouraged.

If after all of this explanation, you are still totally confused, that is completely normal.  This is a game that is harder to explain to teachers than it is to students.  With students, I just model it once with a partner and they get it.  Here is a video of two third-graders that had just learned how to play the game minutes before.  Note that the girl started forgetting to read aloud the words at the end of the video.  When I stopped the camera and mentioned it to her, she started reading again with a louder voice.
Are you ready for some Word Race/Carrera de palabrasin your life?  Go here to find my free printable gameboards for high-frequency words in Spanish.  Seriously, this is a flashcard game that is actually fun to play.  You might just find yourself playing it with your family on Saturday night!


  1. Thank you for remembering that adults too, can be visual learners.The video made it SUPER easy to understand the game rules.

  2. This is amazing! I am going to adapt this to our list of high frequency words. Thanks for sharing. What a great resource!

  3. I was not able to watch the video, could you post it again?

    thank you!


Join the conversation in English or español! You know you have something to say!