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Classroom Games, Activities to Make Test Prep Meaningful

Janelle Cox

For many teachers, this time of the year means state testing. The words “standardized testing” usually come with a lot of groans and eye rolls. But test preparation doesn’t have to be stressful and boring:  There are ways to make it more meaningful and engaging where students (and even you) may enjoy it. Here are a few classroom games and classroom activities to turn boring, standardized test prep into a fun-filled classroom event.

Have Fun Playing Review Classroom Games

Classroom games are a great way to review content, they keep students engaged while they learn and they have fun while doing it! They also help solidify information so it stays in their long-term memory. If you have a smartboard and have access to the Internet, then try a few of these fun review games before the big test. If not, you can still create them yourself without the help of any technology. Plus, there are plenty of review games that you can play with just your students and some paper. Here are a few ideas.

  • Jeopardy! – Create a Jeopardy! template online or by hand and have students play the game to review for the test.
  • Punctuation Paintball - Go to Iknowthat.com and play Punctuation Paintball. This fun grammar practice game has students using a paintball gun to splatter a word once they get it correct.
  • Post-it Practice – This fun review game is just like the game Headbands. The teacher writes a review term on a Post-it note and, without the students looking, she sticks it to each students’ foreheads. Then, students move around the classroom trying to explain the term on their peers’ foreheads without saying the word.
  • Sink or Swim – Divide students into two teams and have them sit across from one another. To begin ask one team a question, if they get the answer correct they are able to sink one person from the other team. To make it so students don’t feel bad, assign each student on the team a number and have students sink a student’s number instead of saying their name. Then, ask team number two a question and if they get it correct they can either sink a person, or save one of their own. This continues until one team has no players left.

Classroom Activities to Differentiate Learning

As we all know, students learn best when learning is tailored to their learning style. Have students create study guides, or give them tips for designing classroom activities for their individual learning style. This can help empower students to take advantage of their own strengths.

Have Students Create Their Own Quiz

Give students the opportunity to create their own quiz. This will not only engage students, but it will give them a better idea of how test creators structure their questions. Discuss all of the types of questions that can and will be on the standardized test. Make sure that you point out that many of the answers act as “distractors” and to design their quiz with tricky elements.

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Next, group students together and have them create their own version of a quiz. It’s good to pair students with different strengths and learning styles into groups with one another. This will help students benefit from each others’ strengths. When the quizzes are completed, have groups exchange with each other and take the quiz. Then have groups take a moment to give feedback on how they think the quiz was.

Incorporate Stress Management Strategies

Ease test-taking jitters by showing students a few stress-relief techniques. Guide students into some relaxing breathing techniques. Have students sit comfortably and close their eyes. Then, have them breath in slowly through their nose for a count of five, then breathe out slowly for a count of five through the mouth. Have them do this for at least five rounds. You can also dim the lights and put on some classical music. Other methods are to let them suck on some peppermint hard candy or chew some gum, do a few yoga poses, or spray lavender which is an anti-anxiety reducing sent.  All of these approaches have been proven to relax students before a test.

Use a Classroom Response System

Try a classroom response system like a clicker. This small handheld devise allows students to answer questions independently. Student response systems are prefect for test prep because they keep students interested and engaged while learning, and not to mention students find them a lot of fun. Try using a clicker with one of your standardized test prep booklets. It will give students an idea of what they test will look like, and with the clicker you will get an immediate response of how well the students perform.

Utilize the Standardized Test Prep Booklets

In the weeks leading up to the test, after each lesson, ask students a question in the format of the standardized test to see if they have grasped the information. This will not only tell you if they learned the content, but it will get them used to the format. You can use the clicker to make this more engaging for students.

As you can see, it is possible to promote student engagement while preparing for standardized tests. Try and use the same format of the standardized tests as much as possible during test prep. This can be a huge advantage for student learning, because they are being exposed to what the actual test will look like. Play games, teach students how to relax, and make it fun.

How do you make test prep more meaningful, engaging, and fun in your classroom? Do you have any tips or games that work especially well for your students? Please share with us in comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.