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Reference Book Relays (2nd-6th grades)


Author: Olive School, California


Subject: Any


Objective: To see if the students understand which reference book to use to look up information


Materials and Preparation: You need 2 (or 4 depending on how many teams you have) of each


  • dictionary

  • thesaurus

  • atlas

  • almanac

  • encyclopedia


Student Grouping: two to four teams


The Play:


  1. Take the students outside, explain the rules and divide them into teams. I had them line up on a basketball court.

  2. Set up the books on the other side of the basketball court. Make sure they are separated so teams don't grab each other's books.

  3. Once teams line up, pose a question and then say "Go!" The first person from each team must run to the reference books, grab the book that would help them find the answer, and bring it back to you. It doesn't matter who gets back first, only that they bring back the correct book.

  4. Whomever brings back the correct reference book gets a point for their team. If they don't bring back the correct book, no point.

  5. Have the kids put the books back, and the next set of kids gets ready for their race.

  6. If ALL players bring back the wrong book, just shake your head, repeat the question, and they have to race back to find the correct one. Only the teams that bring back the correct books get a point.


Scoring: Teams get points when players bring back the correct reference book.


Examples: Question examples


  • "Which book would show me where to find Egypt?"

  • "What does 'migration' mean?"

  • "What is a synonym for nice?"

  • "Which book would show me the phases of the moon?"


Comments: This was a spur of the moment activity and it went surprisingly well. My 3rd graders loved running and the competition and even when someone brought back the wrong book, they were supportive. I did explain at the beginning, that they couldn't shout out the answer to the running player or get mad if he/she brought back the wrong book. If they did, the game was over. I'm still making changes to it.



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