Race to the Finish: Letter Knowledge and Word Parts

Hello, are you ready for another fun summer activity? We call this one, Race to the Finish! You can start this at any age, I’ve used it with my three year old. The object of the game is to build reading automaticity by quickly identifying the reading markers on a racetrack all the way to the finish line.

Markers are based on your child’s reading ability. My son is working on uppercase letter recognition; so his race track will have a mixture of the alphabet and numbers in a random fashion.

Elementary students work with the following:

  • Upper and lowercase letters
  • word endings (-ag, -ed, -op, -it)
  • consonant blends (pr-, fl-, br-, dr-, cl-, st-)
  • consonant digraphs (ch, sh, wr, gh, wh, th, qu)
  • Silent e word endings (oke, ope, ime, ame)
  • Vowel twins (ail, aim, eam, oat)
  • Suffixes (-ing, -er, -est, -ness, -ful, -ty, -ly)
  • Prefixes (de-, ir-, un-, in-, im)

First, use painter’s tape to create a track on the floor. It can be in their room, in the hallway, in the corner of your dining room where no one goes, basically wherever you don’t mind a track. 🙂

Next, using a Sharpie, write the reading markers along the track. You want to repeat the markers multiple times on the racetrack. The markers need to be familiar to your child because the point of the activity is to build fluency and automaticity with their marker recognition; so that when they see it later in context (i.e. in a word), they are more likely to notice and read it with fluidity.

Then, make a start and a finish line.

Finally, “Ladies and Gentlemen! Start. Your. Engines!!!!!” Have them Race to the Finish by reading the markers. If they give an incorrect response, stop the race. Say the correct response, have them repeat it, and then go again. They can think of these moments as pit stops, just like in a real race. When the race is over, talk about how many pit stops they needed to take. Each time they race, they should reduce their number of stops. Soon, they will be able to race without any stops! When this happens, move to the next marker level.

BONUS: Chart their racing progress so they can see their growth.

Happy racing and see you at the finish line!   


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