Alphabet Relay requires participants to work as a team to generate words and ideas in response to a prompt or question. Reflecting on the posters as one big group helps participants see the range of ideas the class has about a particular prompt or idea, as well as common themes that might emerge.
Start with multiple posters, each lettered A – Z down the side, with room to write after each letter. Place the posters side by side where students of all sizes can easily reach and write on them (taped to a wall, on a large table, etc.) Divide participants into groups (5-10 members per group) equal to the number of posters and offer a prompt related to the current content inquiry. For example: What do we know about the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S... Explain that each team needs to come up with one-word answers to a prompt from A to Z. Working from a single file line, the first person in the line will run to the poster and write a word that starts with the next available letter on the list – starting with A, then B, and so on. The goal is to complete every word on the poster A-Z as quickly as possible. Once groups have finished their list they are encouraged to cheer on the other groups to finish. After all teams have completed their poster, the class gathers where everyone can see the posters to reflect on the activity and the ideas they generated.
- What strategies did your team use to successfully complete the activity?
- What words do you see on more than one alphabet poster? (Circle words that are similar or repeated.)
- What words are circled? What do these words tell us about thinking?
- Go with your first instinct – don’t overthink your answer.
- Look ahead and start thinking of an answer for your next letter!
- If you get stuck, ask your team for help. Support each other by helping to brainstorm responses together.
- Consider playing without the relay and with images (see Graffiti Alphabet).
- Encourage the teams to collectively brainstorm responses before or during the game to add fun and alleviate pressure on individuals.
- Assess prior knowledge at the beginning and end of a unit and keep posters to share with group.
- MATH or SCIENCE: Have participants generate words connected to mathematical thinking or to animal characteristics or ecosystems.
- READING/WRITING OR SOCIAL STUDIES: Have participants generate themes from a book, arguments on a topic to prepare for persuasive writing, or vocabulary connected to a historic event, cultural group, or geographic region.