Before we can complete the school year, we have to endure standardized testing. I’m sure you’ve been working hard to prepare your students for the test all year long through your daily lessons and activities. No matter how much we prepare, testing is a nerve-wracking time for both teachers and students. It’s important to take some of that pressure off of our kids and remind them to have a little bit of fun along the way. Throughout the years, I’ve learned several different ways to do this. Let’s jump right in and learn about some fun test prep!
# 1: Testing Desk Notes
Our classroom environments are already filled with positivity and encouragement. Testing week is no different. If anything we push the motivation and encouragement into high gear during this stressful time. There are so many ways that you can encourage your students during test prep and testing week that don’t take a lot of time or cost a lot of money.
My favorite way to do this is through motivational desk notes and treats. In the morning before the students come into class, I would leave a note on their desk with a special treat. One example is “You can lick this test,” so I would leave a sucker of some sort on their desk next to the note. Students would get so excited and couldn’t wait to get to school in the morning to see what the motivational message and special treat would be. This small act of kindness and support sets the tone for the day, and I loved to see their excitement as they walk in the door.
If we had a long day of testing, I’d pass out another note of encouragement and treat in between tests. One of my favorite notes to hand out for a mid-test treat is “a burst of energy to do a fantastic job” with their choice of starburst or pack of juicy burst gummies. A fun one for the end of the testing week is “you are one smart cookie.” That cookie sure does taste sweet at the end of all of that brain work.
Here’s a sneak peek into some of the fun and encouraging desk notes you can share with your students.
Get Parents Involved!
Unfortunately, in this day and time, testing is a reality and as educators, we must prepare students for standardized testing. Some students get very stressed during this time. We often try to comfort our students by saying, “Don’t worry. You’ve got this!” or, “Just do your best!” However, I think it’s important to encourage parent involvement as well.
Included in this download is a note you can send home to parents requesting that they join you in easing the stress of testing at school.
Parents are asked to write a short note of encouragement and send a picture (no larger than a 5 x 7) to be displayed in the classroom during testing sessions. I have done this for years in my 4th-grade classroom, and students love reading all the notes from parents, as well as sharing their own.
By using this template, you can easily create a classroom bulletin board with encouragement notes from parents!
TIP: Copy the parent letter on Astropbright paper (or any brightly colored paper) to make a colorful bulletin board display!
You can find all of these 35 encouraging testing notes and parent letter templates in my store. Grab Testing Motivation and Encouragement Desk Notes for Students to let your kiddos know how much you believe in them!
#2: Testing Strategies Poster
Teaching strategies for strategic learning is something we do throughout the school year. These strategies come into play when our students must put their new skills to the test during end of the year testing.
As I taught new strategies during the year I would add them to our bulletin board. This created one place that students could refer to all year long. I loved seeing students reference this board as they were working independently.
Even though we are constantly reminding our students of things like making sure to read all of the answer choices and pay careful attention to words in BOLD face type, they don’t always remember. There are SO many things to keep in mind, and their brains are already in overdrive. So I have found that putting up testing strategies posters around the classroom seemed to be very helpful for students.
I also loved to run off copies of the posters in smaller sizes and have the students put them in the front of their binders or interactive notebooks. Every time they open their binders they saw the strategies. It really helps them to remember the strategies when they are seeing them every day.
Of course, you can create your own posters to match the strategies that you teach. But, if you want to save some time, I’ve put together some ready-to-use test prep posters that cover lots of different strategies. I created a set that includes 16 test strategy posters plus the CUBES and RELAX testing methods. You also get some bonus bookmarks that your students can use. Here are some examples of the posters you get in this set:
Grab all 26 of these testing strategy posters in my store.
#3: Fun Test Prep Games and Activities
Games are such a great way to bring excitement and engagement into a review activity. I love to incorporate games all year long when reviewing skills and strategies.
In the days leading up to the test, you can play a variety of test prep games. These fun games are a great way to get your students interested in reviewing all the testing strategies that you taught them. Students can play with a partner or in small groups. In the example to the left, students roll a cube they make and then answer the questions about testing methods. It’s a great way to review strategies and think about situations where they can be applied.
Turning your academic review into games is a fun way to engage your students. The hardest part of that is thinking of the games. But no fear . . . I’ve got you covered! Use these Test Prep Gamecards to give you all the game ideas you will need to make your end of year and test prep review fun! Your students won’t even realize the work they are putting in when they are playing fun things like Boards Up!
Boards Up is one of my favorite activities to review vocabulary words with. All you need is a marker board, dry erase marker, and eraser for each student. As you call out a question, each student will write their response on the board. After saying, “Boards up” each student will hold their boards high in the air. It is so easy for you to do a quick assessment this way. I love to take turns calling on individual students and have them explain their answers and reasoning. My students always enjoy this game!
Another fun activity we like to play is Ask and Swap. This one requires a little bit of prep work on your part, but nothing that can’t be done in a few minutes. When planning your activity, grab enough note cards for each of your students and write questions on each one about the topic that you wish to review. Each student will have their own note card for the activity. On signal, your students will move around the room and partner up. Students will ask their questions to each other, check their answers, swap cards, and find a new partner. The kids love to be up and moving around the room while getting in a great review session.
Be sure to keep engagement high before testing with these new and fun test prep games and strategies for both reading and math. Your students will love the challenge, and you will love the results!
Here are some examples of the test prep games you get in this set:
#4: Motivational Testing Posters for Fun Test Prep
I have always tried to pull all of the tricks out of my hat for testing week. It can be hard to keep spirits high and continually motivate students. Ink-friendly motivational posters help to do the trick! I loved hanging these posters around my room, and I didn’t just put them up for testing. These posters stayed up all year long! They are perfect for easy classroom decor, and they help to set the tone for a positive classroom environment. I love sayings like ” You can do anything” and “Make it matter” to help lift my students’ spirits up!
These motivational testing posters are great to hang in the hallway or use on your bulletin boards during the testing month. This way the entire hallway can benefit from the extra motivation and support!
As a special treat, try printing a few extra copies of the posters so that your students can color them after they are done testing. This is a great brain break for them and a great way to let their creative juices flow!
#5: Motivational Digital Stickers
Stickers are such a fun way to level up a worksheet or an assignment. You can use them as another opportunity for motivation and encouragement anytime. When teachers started using more technology in the classroom during distance learning, I got a little creative. This is when my motivational digital stickers came into play! They are so cute and fun to add to any digital assignment on Google and Seesaw. I love to stick in little reminders like “Be Kind,” “Smile often,” and “Make it matter.” This sticker set comes in my Digital Sticker Book Bundle. You get 20 motivational digital stickers and a 6-page digital sticker book for your students!
I hope you eliminate some stress for yourself and your students with these ideas and activities. Fun test prep is possible, and your students will thank you for it! Save money and time by grabbing my Test Prep Bundle at 20% off!
Be sure to save this pin for later when you are ready for some fun test prep in your classroom!