My Favorite Test Prep Activities for Upper Elementary
It’s that time of year! Take a deep breath. You’ve got this! Our students have worked hard all year and we know they’ve learned a lot. But what do we do to prep for our state tests in upper elementary? Do we give them a reading comprehension test so they can practice? Do we give them a sample PARCC assessment? What do we do to effectively review for state testing and refresh their memory enough to be successful on their state test? Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite test prep activities for upper elementary classrooms and test prep resources for elementary students.
Before diving in, I think it’s important to mention that we need to explicitly teach test-taking strategies and test-taking skills to our elementary students. Review your state’s sample tests online and make sure your students understand how to use the tools to their advantage. Now for the test prep activities…
My first test prep activity for upper elementary students is a classic. Task cards are the perfect way to prepare students for their state test. They keep our kids entertained and moving. They also provide the opportunity for students to practice multiple skills or really hone down on one main skill.
Below I listed a few of my favorite ways to incorporate task cards during testing season.
- SCOOT – Have students move around the room looking for cards and recording their answers.
- Whiteboards – Sometimes I’ll project a task card on my Smartboard and ask students to write their answer. Then I’ll shout 3..2..1…FLIP and the students show me their answer.
- Computers – There are SO many digital task cards available. Students can quietly work in a center while answering task cards.
- Make them into a game – Have your students partner up or get into groups. They can take turns reading each card and giving an answer. To make this more challenging, have students explain why they chose their answer.
Scholastic magazines are a great source for examining informational texts and practicing reading skills. Depending on what skill we are reviewing (summarizing, text features, sequence, etc) I will give students the corresponding graphic organizer & a Scholastic magazine to practice.
My students love using these because they are all geared towards student interests and current trends! My students feel so mature reading through their magazine. I give them the freedom of picking any article they want to practice the skills. Giving students a choice in what they read and dissect makes such a difference.
- Sink or Swim – Divide students into 2 teams and sit them across from each other. 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 prevent awkwardness, assign each student a number and have students sink a student’s number instead of saying their name. Then ask team number two a question. This process continues until one team has no remaining players. (Teachhub.com)
- Punctuation Paintball – Go to and try Punctuation Paintball. It’s a great way for students to review their grammar skills! Students use a paintball gun to splatter a word once they get it correct.
- Trashketball – First you need to gather worksheets that assess a specific skill (word problems, short reading passages, or just about any skill you’d like to review). I would suggest anywhere from 8-12 worksheets, depending on the size of your class. Put some sort of mark at the top of each worksheet so you can differentiate them easily. Also, be sure to have an answer key with the corresponding symbol. Next, you will make multiple copies of your worksheets. After, pass out each worksheet so the students can begin working on the problems. When a student has completed their worksheet have them bring it to you to check their answers. If they are all correct they can “shoot.” If they make a mistake, ask students to continue working. For more information, you can check out this blog post.
- 4 Corners – Four corners is one of my favorite test review game! Each corner represents an answer and it’s every student for themselves!
- Life-Size Memory – Literally! Make big sized memory cards that students can flip!
- Kahoot – Here is a test prep Kahoot game I made to help my students. Feel free to use it, if it suits your students!
- Plickers – If you’ve never used Plickers, it’s a great formative assessment tool for your students using a phone or tablet and cards.
There’s a rumor going around that classroom transformations are time-consuming and expensive. And they can be! However, they don’t HAVE to be. It’s what YOU make it.
For example, if you transform your classroom into a hospital you need gloves, tablecloths, and cut and paste activities. You don’t have to go full out with gowns, gloves, and stethoscopes. You do what YOU can to engage them and make it different than a typical day.
Classroom transformations are an amazing way to disguise test prep. It also helps kids and you have some fun before they are buckled down by tests.
There are so many amazing escape rooms for literacy, math, and test-taking skills. You can find an escape room for just about any topic or skill that you want to review. Or you can make your own! Give your students 45 minutes to solve a set amount of riddles. If they solve them all within that allotted time, they escaped! 🙂
Test Prep Takeaway
Finally, just remember no matter what you choose to incorporate into your classroom, your students are more than their test score…and so are YOU.
I hope you enjoyed my test prep tips for upper elementary classrooms. If you are looking for additional teaching tips and hacks, check out the teacher tips section on my blog!