Spring is here and that means standardized testing is right around the corner. As teachers, we never want to “teach to the test,” but we need to cover certain standards and review skills so that our students feel prepared for the big week. Breaking out packets of worksheets with endless review problems will only cause disappointment and frustration. The key to a good test prep review is to add in a little excitement. Here are some fun ways to prepare for standardized testing in your classroom.
The debate on standardized testing is nothing new. It has been a hot topic since testing was introduced as part of the educational system. Pros and cons can be argued by both parties.
Regardless of where you fall in this big debate, testing is still very much a part of our educational system today and is showing no signs of fading out.
So instead of focusing on whether we should be using standardized testing, we are going to focus on what we can do to make the best of the situation for our students.
How to Prepare our Students for Testing
The last thing we want to do is bore our students with endless pages of test prep materials. You’ll likely end up with little engagement and a classroom full of kids who are checked out.
Instead, try incorporating some fun test prep activities into your day. These are some of my favorite fun ways to prepare for standardized testing.
Test Prep Games
Who doesn’t love a good game? Games are engaging and interactive while effectively reviewing a standard or skill. Your students will often get more practice answering questions in a game than they would if they completed a worksheet. Your kids won’t even realize the work they are doing because they will be so involved in the game.
There are so many different games that you can adapt to meet your needs.
Jenga is a fun low prep game that you can add to any review session. It works great for whole class instruction, or even for small groups ( if you have more than one Jenga set). And . . . if you’d like to save some money make sure to look for tower building games similar to Jenga at your local dollar store!
There are a variety of ways you can set up a Jenga review game. An easy way to begin is with an oral review session. Use the Jenga game as is and orally provide the questions or project them on the whiteboard. When a student answers correctly, they get to remove a piece from the tower.
Another alternative would be writing questions directly on the Jenga pieces. This works great for skills or concepts that students will review again and again, like math facts. Once you add the questions to the pieces, every time you play in the future it is a NO PREP activity! The downfall to this method is that each Jenga game becomes usable for that one skill.
This is another fun, easy game that you can adapt in many different ways. Just grab an indoor basketball hoop to hang on the back of your door or the board. Using project questions or question cards, have each student or team answer a question. For every correct answer, students will get to shoot the ball.
Another fun alternative is playing with the classroom trashcan! Students will use crumpled-up paper instead of a ball. The kids always get a hit out of playing basketball and trashketball as part of our review activities.
If you want to add a level of strategy to your game, create different shooting zones in the classroom. Each zone can be worth a different point value giving students opportunities to use some math skills to decide the place to shoot from.
Kids love BINGO and this vocabulary bingo game is so fun and easy! While you can prep this game ahead of time, I like to have students create their own BINGO game board before we start playing.
Hand out a blank gameboard to each student or have them use a sheet of looseleaf paper and draw 9 or 12 squares to use as their BINGO card. Then have students fill in each square with one vocabulary word. I like to project a list of possible words on the board and let students choose from there.
To play, call out the definitions or examples of the vocabulary words from your list. Students will decide what word it is and mark it off if they have it on their card.
Students can use a highlighter or crayon to mark off words or use something like mini-erasers, math counters, or even Skittles so that the game card can be reused. You and your students will love playing BINGO while reviewing for the big test!
Gameshows are so much fun in the classroom. Not only do students love them but they get to work together on teams to solve problems. There’s something about the friendly competition that gets students engaged!
I love using Jeopardy-style games for a fun review. It’s a great concept because you can cover several different standards at the same time.
When introducing the game, I lay out the rules in a way that keeps all students working on every question. We don’t want teams just sitting around waiting for their turn. I keep students engaged by allowing a team to “steal” if a question is answered incorrectly. This keeps each team working on all the questions just in case they have a chance to answer.
You can create a Jeopardy-style game using printed questions or a digital version using Powerpoint or Google Slides. If you would prefer a game that is already done for you, check out the games in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Use Books to Help Ease Test Jitters
Books are always a hit in my class, so when I found picture books that focused on test-taking and the anxiety it can cause, I knew I had hit the jackpot.
Great books to read to your class before taking a test include:
- Big Test Jitters, by Julie Danneberg
- Testing Miss Malarkey, by Judy Finchler
- The Big Test, by Julie Danneberg
Using read alouds is a great way to open a discussion of what students may be feeling or thinking about leading up to the test.
Save it for Later!
Be sure to save this pin to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so can quickly come back when you need more fun ways to prepare for standardized testing.