Standardized testing is right around the corner. I think we can all agree that standardized testing is one of the worst parts of teaching. I have to keep my third graders in their desks, taking a test, for four hours straight on three separate days. Ugh! Great teachers know that this is not healthy!
But no matter how much we dislike the tests, we have to give them. So why not throw in some fun?!!! I have some easy ideas for you!
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Several years ago, I decided it would be fun to have a theme for test prep. I LOVE themes! Since testing happens in the spring, right when spring training is going strong, I decided that baseball would be the best theme. Lots of my students play Little League and so they got very excited about the baseball theme.
Testing is a lot like a sports game. You practice hard. You get a good night of sleep and eat healthy. On “game day” you show up prepared and do your very best.
Set Training Goals
First, I have students decide on spring training goals. Students write about what they need to work on during training (test prep time) in order to be successful on game day (also known as test day). Setting goals helps the students be more accountable for their test prep time.
These goal statements make a great bulletin board titled “Batter Up!” They also serve as a good reminder and kids can reread their goals when necessary.
Test Prep Tips
My third graders have very little experience with standardized testing. So I spend a little time each day teaching them some test prep tips. They range from eating a healthy breakfast to eliminating answers that are obviously incorrect. I have these test prep tips printed on posters and I hang a new poster in the classroom each day.
Students record each tip in their game day play books and write a few sentences about why it’s important. The game day play books are also great for reviewing math and ELA skills.
A Game Day Promise
As game day gets closer, I ask students to reflect on all of the test taking tips we’ve reviewed and make a game day promise. My kiddo who is always late might promise to get to school on time. My kiddo who always rushes might promise to slow down and read all the directions. I encourage each student to make a promise that will help them do their best.
I display these promises outside our door with the title, “We are going to hit this test out of the park!” or “We’re Bringing our A Game!” As students walk into class on game day, I have them reread their promise.
Practicing for Test Day
An important part of baseball and test prep is practice. My students love to use task cards for a class baseball game! This is a great way to introduce a little friendly competition into the review and keep students engaged.
I label the four corners of my classroom 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and home. Then I divide the class into two teams and choose a team to be up to bat first.
Students take turns coming up to home plate. I read a question from task card. If the student answers correctly, they move to 1st base. If they get it wrong, they are out. I then randomly ask a student from the other team to answer. If that students is correct, I give them a piece of candy. Score!
After three outs, the other team is up. We keep track of the score on the white board. All of my students are so engaged because they never knew when they might get called on to answer a question and have a chance to earn a piece of candy!
A Little Extra Motivation
I like to continue the fun right through test day. One year, I found these fantastic baseball bracelets with motivating phrases and cute baseball mints at Party City. I had them waiting on the kids’ desks on the morning of the test.
After the big test, it was time for a team party! I love to show the movie Everyone’s Hero. It is an adorable movie that makes everyone laugh and has a great message.
I also have parents donate some food so that we can have hot dogs, cracker jacks, and cupcakes. The kids LOVE it! And it is just the break that we deserve!
I heat the hotdogs up in a crockpot. So simple!
If you want your own copy of the test prep printables I use for spring training, you can find them in my Game Day Test Prep kit.
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Have a Not So Wimpy Day!