Updated: Feb 23, 2022
Please don’t be mad at me but we all know this is the season of test prep in many schools. I don’t agree with teaching to the test but I do agree with making sure students are familiar with how the test will be set up and how the questions will be asked. For years I struggled with preparing my kids for the test but recently I decided to make sure my kids enjoyed every minute of it. Once I started having fun with it, they did too.
I know there may be some primary teachers and/or teachers that don't have to test their kids that are reading this wondering how they could help. One of my favorite things a primary teacher did for my class one year was give them treats every day of testing. Click here for some FREE motivational printable treat tags to go along with your treats!!
Cookies- You are one smart cookie! Pencils- You've got the "write" stuff!" Pop Rocks- Rock the Test Motivational Cards- Each student wrote personal notes to the kids in my class letting them know they believed in them.
AN EASY START TO ENGAGING TEST PREP
One of the first things I started to do was give out treats for correct answers. I am definitely not big on handing out candy or treats so this was HUGE in my classroom. The best part was I would only give them one skittle, one M &M, or one fruit loop for every correct answer. They would BEG me to do test prep and they would really work hard. This little treat they could earn made the biggest difference in my students. I also would change it up here or there so sometimes instead of candy they could earn other items such as FREE computer time or using my chair for the day. When I gave these types of rewards out, they could earn a minute of FREE computer time for every correct answer. Then the person with the most correct answers could use my chair for the remainder of the day. Then I realized NONE of my struggling students would EVER get my chair so I started changing the way I rewarded it. Sometimes it was simply for working the hardest or making the most growth. I never told them beforehand so they loved the surprise in the end! I would even find reasons to give extra treats to kids that went from getting one right to getting three right the next day. This would motivate them to work even harder. The year I realized this was working well was when my kids would BEG to do test prep instead of recess! I consider that a teacher win.
TEST PREP GAMES
I started turning everything into a game. I love using task cards that are good for test prep and putting them around the room. Then the kids have a few minutes to answer each card with a partner. In the end we check them and review them. The team with the most questions correct wins a small prize such as lunch with the teacher and two friends of their choice. When using the task card games, I have the opportunity to fix any misconceptions and I give them a practice sheet covering the same skills (This works best for math). For reading I would take passages and divide the kids up to read them and answer questions in groups or partners. Once again, I would see who could get the most correct and have a winner. My classes love some friendly competition. As the teacher I would make sure everyone was participating and no one was doing all of the work on their team. One year a teacher at my school turned task cards into a Boot Camp and the kids had problems to solve at each station and then a physical activity to complete (shooting hoops, jump rope, push-ups, etc.). They had a BLAST!
CHANGE IT UP
I started to see a lot of teachers doing room transformations and/or escape rooms. I definitely didn’t have the time to do some of the amazing transformations I saw on Instagram BUT I made some small ones that took just minutes to set up. The kids still had a greta time. One year my kids had to escape a bat cave. Then for another time they were spies that had to solve a riddle. I did spend a little bit of money on these activities to buy invisible ink pens, sunglasses, water bottles, and flashlights. After seeing how much fun the kids had and how much they learned I truly felt it was worth EVERY penny. I was going to keep them for the following years but the kids really worked hard so I let them keep the supplies as a reward!
There are so many ways to make test prep fun and engaging. I just shared with you a few fun ways I have done this at my school. Take a moment to reflect about how you do this in your classroom and see what twist you can add to it this year. Remember the more fun we have while teaching, the more fun our kids will have learning. I challenge you to find one or two ways to change up your test prep this year!
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