The Amazing Race is easily one of the most well-known reality TV shows of this century and is the basis of my own Amazing Race Classroom Edition activity. Now on its 33rd season, the show revolves around teams (2 players in each team) who race each other in exotic locations around the world, challenging themselves both mentally and physically, as they attempt to win a massive cash prize.
Over its many seasons, the concept of the TV show has remained the same. Teams race each other across the world and the show follows a progressive elimination style where the team that reaches the checkpoint last is eliminated. It begins in the US and teams must uncover clues and follow the instructions to make their way to other checkpoints located across the world before journeying back to the US for the final stretch. During their travels through countries, they will partake in tasks that represent the culture of the country or region they are in. Participants are given only limited possessions and just enough money for traveling with the exception of airline tickets which are purchased by a production team issued credit card.
Funnily enough, the concept for the multiple Emmy Award-winning reality show was conceived during a bet between the two current producers when one challenged the other to develop a premise for a TV show in under five minutes! This suggestion was later refined and sold to CBS network. As the age-old saying goes, the rest is history.
Unsatisfied with watching the action, I finally decided I needed a slice of it too. So, I planned The Amazing Race but with a twist… I made it a Classroom Edition. It is suitable for all subjects (more on that later) while also combining learning, physical activity and fun in a way that many other teaching methods struggle to.
How I incorporate The Amazing Race in my classroom
I begin my classroom edition of The Amazing Race game with an entertaining opening and an explanation of the game. In my edition, students will complete a range of tasks to unlock cryptic clues. In an epic adventure, the teams must figure out the clue and solve it to proceed to the next task. More than simply looking at the board and listening to your explanation, a fun activity like The Amazing Race will have teams of students completing a range of creative tasks in a more interactive and hands-on manner.
How to set up The Amazing Race: Classroom Edition
Here is a rundown of how I set up the game at my class.
I first created teams, between 3-5 members per team. I usually allow the team members to decide on the roles such as the team leader, reader (to read the clues and tasks), the referee (in the event of any disagreements), and the tech leader (to carry the tech equipment).
Once the roles, team name and the chant (optional) is decided upon, I explain the rules of the game.
After the teams are ready, I give them their first task: 5-10 anagrams of vocab words that we studied in class. The first team to solve or finish the task will receive the clue to their first location. Each team unlocks a different clue and this prevents crowding in a single location.
In each location, I have posted instructions for the next task. You have the freedom of choosing the specifics of the task. It can be anything from a purely academic challenge to something more physical.
Usually, I try to involve other staff members or faculty members. For instance, if one location is the canteen or the library, I try to include the canteen staff or the librarian. When the task is completed, the librarian (or other member) will give the next clue.
It goes on like this till the final clue – usually the 5th clue is where I end it. It will lead all teams to the final location and task and the team that finishes first is the winner!
Advantages of doing amazing race in the lesson
There has been a constant transition in teaching styles over the years and today, there is a higher (and more significant) emphasis on developing creative methods to achieve the learning goals you have set out for the class. There is no denying that creative teaching methods with the integrated curriculum is the way to go in the future.
Of course, focusing on the depth of learning will increase the time you spend on a specific task but it will also help you achieve multiple objectives and give your students a more immersive learning experience that will allow them to absorb what you are saying.
Can I incorporate this into another subject?
Easily the most interesting fact about The Amazing Race Classroom Edition is that it can be customized to every lesson, be it a geography class or a science class. You don’t necessarily have to be an English teacher to enjoy its benefits!
All the activities I have listed above can be replaced with your favorite game or maybe even something more academic such as a puzzle or a quick matching game that revolves around the lesson you are teaching. You may however, want an adult to supervise each group and ensure that the activities are done in the correct manner, the students are safe and that the rewards are handed out. If the students are younger, you may also need the adults to read out the clues and assist them.
Here are my FREE resources for this fun activity. Please note that these are specific to my classes and lessons and may not necessarily apply to you. Nonetheless, I hope that these files will serve as a starting point for your own edition of The Amazing Race!
Suddenly changing your teaching methods can seem a tad too challenging and frankly, overwhelming. However, when you realize that The Amazing Race is only a little clog in the process of a new modern day teaching method, you, as a teacher can create a whole new experience and provide new learning opportunities for your students while you develop the modern teaching skills necessarily to succeed as a teacher.