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Slam Dunk Literacy: Blending Basketball and Reading for Classroom Success


I love basketball season, and so do many of my students. There's just something exciting about the craziness of the March basketball tournaments! Bring this excitement into your classroom by combining literature with the thrill of basketball. These ideas are sure to be a slam dunk with your students!

Score Points with Basketball Literacy Games

To kick off this basketball literacy event, consider setting up literacy stations with a basketball twist. Create stations that combine reading skills with basketball-related activities. For example, have a vocabulary station where students shoot hoops to match words with their definitions. Create a reading station where students read a basketball-themed passage and answer questions. Each time they get a question right, they can take a shot at the basket.

You can purchase a basketball and goal here (paid link). If you don't want to purchase one, you can always use any type of ball you already have. Grab a basket or bin and let students use it as the goal.

Team Reading Challenges

Encourage friendly competition by organizing team reading challenges. Create teams, or let students choose a team. Assign reading goals or book assignments to each team and reward them with points for meeting their goals. The team with the highest score could earn the title of "Reading Champions."

Another way to encourage reading is to invite families to read at home. Challenge families to read each night and log their reading. Families could read a book together, or they could set aside time each night to read independently. This is a great way to encourage families to spend time together, and it also promotes a love for reading. I created a Family Reading Bingo Challenge Sheet for you to use. It's in Canva, so feel free to edit to meet your students' and families' needs. Here's the link for the basketball literacy challenge sheet.

"There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all." – Jacqueline Kennedy

Reading About Basketball

Let students choose their favorite athlete, coach, or sports icon to read about. You can even set a timer each day and everybody stops what they are doing and reads, or you can do a read-aloud. Make it even more fun by using a buzzer sound when it's time to stop reading.

I've made a list of basketball-themed books if you need some ideas (paid link). My favorites are "Salt in His Shoes" and "The Boy Who Never Gave Up." Both books are about well-known basketball players who worked extremely hard to make their dreams come true.

Another way to incorporate basketball into your literacy program is through reading comprehension and reading fluency. This basketball literacy resource lets students read about 10 famous basketball players. This is a reading fluency resource, but also includes reading comprehension questions.

Book Tournament with Brackets

Use a book bracket where students vote on their favorite books in a tournament-style competition. Collaborate with your media specialist and teacher friends to choose your books. Or you can let students choose. Keep the length of the books in mind, depending on how long you want to run the book tournament.

Write the book titles on the left and right blanks on the paper. Let students read the books, or you can do a read-aloud each day. Each time you read two books that share a bracket, you'll let students vote and write the winner. You'll keep going until you have one final book winner. You can download this free book bracket that I created for you.

And That's The Game

By combining basketball and literacy, teachers can engage students and provide a fun way to learn. So, lace up those shoes, grab a basketball, and get ready for an educational slam dunk in your classroom! If you have some more ideas to incorporate basketball into reading, please share them in the comments!


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