Test prep in upper elementary – love it or hate it? I’d rather do a lot of things than have my students take a standardized test, let’s be honest. BUT I do love the opportunites for fun and engaging activities that standardized test prep season provides. Here are my five favorite upper elementary test prep activities for springtime!
1. Connect Four
This review activity is my favorite because it can be used with ANY content and it literally takes no time to prep.
Here’s how we play:
1. Draw a grid on the board. I divide my class into four groups, and each group gets a different color stack of sticky notes.
2. I ask a review question, then each group decides on their answer and writes it on a sticky note.
3. The “runner” from each group has to run to place their sticky on the board!
4. If a group gets an answer incorrect, their sticky note is taken off of the board. If they get it correct, it stays! (this encourages them to not rush) Groups get a point each time they get four sticky notes in a row and the group with the most points at the end wins!
2. Around the Room
Not only is an Around the Room activity great for any time of year, it’s absolutely PERFECT for upper elementary test prep! The best part? It’s literally so simple. Once you decide what content you want your students to review, all you need to do is tape separate questions around the classroom. You can take a regular worksheet and cut it apart, use task cards, etc… Have your students carry around clipboards with notebook paper to record their answers. I like to put on some instrumental music as they walk around the room and answer questions!
I love around the rooms for upper elementary test prep activities because they get students up and moving, but still offer rigorous and meaningful practice or review. Want a made-for-you 5th grade math around the room activity? Click here for my best-selling 5th grade math imposters activity or here for an editable version you can use to create your own!
3. Snowball Fight
This one is great for math and totally free! Each student will create and write a math problem on a piece of paper (if you want to get specific, you can assign them specific topics). Then, they’ll all crumple up their papers and on your mark, throw them at each other!
They’ll grab a random “snowball” and head back to their desk to answer it. Bonus points if you have the original question-writer check the answer as well.
4. Color by Number
Think upper elementary students are too old to color? Not in the slightest! Color by number activities were a test prep favorite in my 5th grade classroom. They’re great for lots of repetition of concepts, but without the monotony of a regular worksheet. These are great for center or station activities, sub plans, or you can even cut apart the questions to create an around the room activity! I love to pull out color by number activities to review concepts from earlier in the year that my students may have forgotten.
Basically, students will answer each question on the worksheet, and then color the corresponding picture according to their answer choices. They are PERFECT for a quick, formative assessment because you can see how your students did just by looking at their pictures. You can grab an entire years’ worth of common core-aligned math color by number activities below to use year-round AND for test prep in the spring!
- Click here for 3rd Grade Math color by number worksheets
- Click here for 4th Grade Math color by number worksheets
- Click here for 5th Grade Math color by number worksheets
5. Class Competition
I’m a big fan of this test prep game for upper elementary because it’s totally free and easy peasy to set up. Here’s how it works: Grab a set of problems from the textbook or a worksheet. Divide your students into groups or partners, and give them the problems to solve, as well as a time limit. (For example, I’ll say, “You have 20 minutes to work on problems 1-15 on page 205.”) Have them work to solve the problems, and when time is up, collect their answer sheets, put on some dramatic gameshow music, and check their answers to see which group got the most correct.
The group with the most correct answers wins! (jolly ranchers are great as a reward.) I do not announce how many each group got correct/incorrect so as to not embarrass anyone, I simply announce the group that got the MOST correct out of everyone. I do, however, hand back their answer sheets to each group can see the questions they got correct/incorrect.
This review activity is great because they’ll work together to solve the problems, and they want to get them CORRECT, not just finish the fastest – so it promotes accuracy as well.
6. Board Games
Board games are great year-round but they’re especially handy for test prep season! Grab a blank board game board, break your students into partners or groups, and give them a set of problems or task cards. Make sure they have dice and ‘game pieces’ (I usually use mini erasers but anything works!) and they can work their way around the board, answering questions and advancing when they get an answer correct.
Using board games for upper elementary test prep is great because it’s super low-prep for you, but your students will get to compete a bit with their friends!
Grab a free football-themed board game template here to print out!