13 Low Prep Review Games to Use in Your Classroom
Test prep season is upon us, and with it comes the dreaded question, how do teachers prepare their students?
Working in a classroom during test prep can be stressful for both the teacher and the students. The classroom can feel tense and nervous, which can make it difficult for student to retain information. Every teacher wants their students to succeed on the upcoming tests, so how can teachers keep them engaged throughout the process of reviewing?
Although test prep is a serious matter, it doesn’t have to be a constant stream of drilling questions and answers. There are plenty of ways to make test prep something fun students want to do, instead of something they dread.
But Won’t Games Eat Up Valuable Prep Time?
Some games take a lot of time to prepare, explain, and maintain in the classroom – which does eat a lot of time. However, there are easy prep games that still engage students in test prep.
To help you save time, I researched the best test prep games that teachers use to help students prepare in a way that is fun and engaging.
Janelle Cox wrote an article for Teach Hub on games to use in the classroom, and she had some great suggestions:
In Ping Pong, the class is split in half. Students work together to answer the question asked by the teacher, and if the answer given is correct, they have a chance to throw a ping pong ball into a plastic cup to earn a prize (or points). Prizes can be anything that motivates the class (treasure box, class helper, etc.).
Every kid knows and loves the game Headbands. In this version, the cards are terms written out by the teacher and placed on the students’ forehead. Other students have to describe the terms until the student guesses correctly. This
game is great because it ensures students’ understanding of the terms.
Linda Kardamis has a great game idea that students will love:
Un-Wheel of Fortune
This game is exactly as it sounds. Instead of having students “SPIN THAT WHEEL”, a phrase is written on the board for them to solve and ask questions. For each correct question, they can guess a letter. Do this in teams and watch students work to figure out the phrase.
Dana Truby and Ephraim Stempler wrote this article for Scholastic in which they discuss on-your-feet games that keep students’ bodies and minds active:
North Pole, South Pole
Ask students questions that have only two answers to them and assign sides of the room for each answer. Then have students walk to one side of the room or the other depending on their answer.
If appropriate, have students defend their answers. This game helps with decision making and makes students think through why they answer one way or the other.
Stephanie Wrobleski wrote an article for Teach Hub about classroom review strategies. Here are a few ideas from her:
Students As Teachers
Students enjoy when they get a chance to be the teacher. This game takes a bit more effort on the part of the teacher, but it is worth it to see the overall understanding of the students.
Assign one topic to a single student or group and give them time to gather their thoughts. Then have them present to the class.
Rachel Lynette wrote an article at Minds In Bloom in which she discussed 36 review game ideas. Here are a few of my favorites:
In Circle Up, the class is split into two equal teams. Two circles, and inner and an outer, are created by students. Each student has a test card. Students have to answer the question of the student facing them. Once this is complete, the inner circle takes one step to the right, and the process begins again. This keeps students’ mind and body moving and active.
While not all ages would really enjoy this activity, it would be fun for younger grades. Give students shaving cream on their desks and allow them to write the answers in the shaving cream. This sensory activity could keep them engaged longer than the normal white board method.
An article from Apperson gives a great idea for test prep that 6th graders would love:
Students complete a worksheet of review questions. Once they are finished, students give the worksheet to the teacher to check work. Once all the questions are correct, the student earns points by shooting their worksheet into a trash can. The points can be built up for prizes, or it could simply be the opportunity to throw a worksheet into a trash can!
Deb Peterson wrote an article for Thought Co in which she gives some great ideas to get students active in the process of reviewing:
Two Truths and a Lie
This game can be played in many variations.
- Have students make three statements about the test review topic and have others identify what is true and what is false.
- The teacher can make three statements and have the students decide as a whole what is true and what is false.
- The class can be divided into teams.
- The options are endless!
Have students write test questions on a piece of paper and crumple it up. Give students 30 seconds to throw the “snowballs” at each other. At the end of the time, have each student pick up a “snowball” and answer the question written on it.
On this post from A To Z Teacher Stuff, one teacher suggests a game that could work really well with upper level classrooms:
King or Queen Of (Fill in the Blank)
In this game, students have a worksheet to fill out. Once the sheet is complete, all the students stand up as the teacher goes through the answers. If the student gets an answer incorrect, they sit down. The last ones standing become King or Queen of whatever subject is being reviewed.
There are a few review methods that, while seemingly outdated, are tested and true:
Most teachers have applied this in the classroom. Even so, it’s worth a mention. It’s simple: the teacher asks a question, the students write the answers on their whiteboards. At the teacher’s direction, the students show their whiteboards.
Flash cards are an old school, but incredibly reliable, method of review. Make it more fun by assigning teams and having them work together.
Test prep season can be stressful, full of quiet review time that can be difficult to maintain. By using games, you can keep your students engaged and enjoying the process of review, which can help them retain information longer.
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