The BEST Ways to Test Prep in Elementary

Testing season is upon us. And while we might not want to do it, spending time prepping students mentally and emotionally is necessary to their success. It’s easy to get caught up in TDAs and test prep packets but it’s also important to balance test prep with more engaging and pressure-free activities. Keeping the prep a little lighter (when you can) will help students feel a little less stressed and a little more relaxed which can help them feel more confident overall. 
Jordan from Team J’s Classroom Fun says “Prepare your room early so the kids have time to adjust – Most of the time we have to cover up anchor charts, move desks so students are far apart, etc.  Do this ahead of time. Any time you make changes in your room, the kids notice and it can cause a commotion. If you do this a few days before testing, they will be used to it by the time testing begins.” You can read more of her tips here
My friend, Jen, over at Two Little Birds has a great list of picture books to read that will encourage your students to have a growth mindset and value progress over perfection. I just LOVE The Most Magnificent Thing. Reading one book a day leading up to “the big test” will help lead discussions about how students are feeling which can give you a better idea about their attitudes towards testing.
At the beginning of the year, I use social stories to lead discussions about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. These go over SO well and students just love reading about these fictional students who don’t always make the best choices. So, I thought, why not make them for test prep as well? There are 12 stories each with students who make a combination positive and negative choices in regards to test prep and test-taking. 
These also come with reflection pages where students can give the fictional characters some advice or praise them for what they are doing well. There are also questions for students to reflect on what they do best and what they could use more practice with. 

There is SO much stress associated with test-taking. It’s essential that we allow our students some downtime to relax and reduce their anxiety. Coloring is the perfect activity! I love these testing motivation coloring pages by Jewel’s School Gems.
{You can find these here}
Games are my absolute favorite engagement strategy.  So I knew when it came to test preparation, I needed to include games specific to test taking strategies. Tic Tac Toe is one of my favorite go-to games for sight words and fact fluency so I went ahead and made a test prep version. 
Partners can play while they are working through a passage with questions or math multiple choice pages. They take turns applying test-taking strategies and cover their space (my students usually use 2 sided counters but you could even laminate and use dry erase markers!) The rest is self-explanatory. 
You can read all about how I incorporate games with any subject in this post
I wish you and your students the best of luck during this stressful season. I hope you have found a few ways to help your students relax and prep in a worry-free way. 
Happy teaching!

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