Saturday, March 30, 2013

Biography Bowling

Looking for a fun way to promote the biography section of your library? 
Why not try...

This is an activity I try to do every other year or so to teach the arrangement of books in this section, but I am waaayyyyyyy behind in introducing biographies to my students this year (the pictures are from a few years ago). Normally we do Biography Bowling in February, somewhere between the birthdays of Abe and George, but that just didn't happen this year. No worries, though--we can still bowl in April, right?!


First I borrow bowling equipment from my P.E. coach (who is AWESOME--he lets me use hula hoops, footballs, and basketballs for different library activities throughout the year). I then type names of famous people from my biography section onto sheets of labels and attach them to bowling pins.  I also run spine labels to match the biography names and attach those to the bottom of the pins.


Biography Bowling is fairly simple to set up once you make the bowling lane (made entirely out of bulletin board paper). The most labor-intensive part for me was the yellow end because of the black circles for placing the pins. I did laminate that piece to save me from making it again.


To play the game, start with all bowling pins lining the sides. Students take turns grabbing a pin and going to the biography section to find a matching book to the sticker on the pin. When a match is made, the pin gets placed on the yellow paper on a black dot. This part is timed, and I usually allow more time for the younger grades to find the matches than the older grades. When the time is up we count how many pins are on the yellow paper (the number of biographies the kids found to match the names on the bowling pins). That number is recorded on a sheet with other teachers' names from the same grade level. Here's a sample sheet showing that Mrs. Jones' class found 29 matching biographies during the allotted time:
Each "x" is just for show to make the score sheet look similar to a real one.

Then I tell the kids that their teacher will get one shot to knock down the pins in the yellow area. This invariably turns the students into super cheerleaders for the classroom teacher (who is more than a little nervous at this point)! Check out the before and after pictures from a teacher who got a strike. I just love the facial expressions and body language of her kids, don't you?!!

Once the teacher bowls, we count how many pins were knocked down and put that number in the "Bonus" column before totaling the two scores. 

Here is an example of what a finished score sheet for one grade level might look like:
In the past, I have announced the top scoring class for each grade level on announcements. 

It's such a hit with my students that they always beg for another week of bowling! Of course there's always a huge increase in the amount of biographies checked out when we do Biography Bowling, and that counts as a lucky "strike" for this librarian!

~Swersty

15 comments:

  1. I am nervous and excited already!! Looking forward to it!

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  2. Love it. Although with my space, we'd have to bowl in the gym. My room is just too small.

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  3. The children must love this! Kuddos to you for putting so much effort into make learning fun for kids.

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  4. OMG!! This is awesome!!! Definately going to do this with my kids this year!!! Thanks for sharing!

    Our PE person doesn't have bowling pins so I have to go on a hunt!

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  5. I just started following you and mentioned you at my blog today! Thanks for the great ideas! lovechapterbooks.blogspot.com

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  9. Do you use real bowling balls? How many pins do you have in all? Thanks!

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  10. Do you use real bowling balls? How many pins do you have in all? Thanks!

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  12. I wonder if 7th graders would like this activity or is it too elementary?

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  13. We just did this at our school and it was a huge hit! Thanks so much for the detailed explanation and inspirational idea. It was a great addition to I love to read month!

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  14. Hello and thank you for posting! One of my teachers found this way back in March when they were doing biographies, but I didn't get around it until now, so substituted mysteries for the biographies. The kids really enjoyed it. I printed out the search results from a search for mystery fiction and cut them up into strip, then used those strips for the kids to locate books. Super fun. Plus, one of the teachers commented how important it was for students to be able to use that skill and I gained a fan of letting students locate books for units of study, instead of requesting them in a cart delivered to the classroom. Thanks!

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  15. I love this idea. How much time do you allow to find the books?

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