How to Create a Fun Test Review Camp
These ideas will help you plan an engaging test prep camp, meet your standards, and give your kids an experience to remember!
Special thanks to Mary Lou Fierro, @crystaltxteach, Tiffany Brown, Leslie Turner, and @sidetalkingteacher for sharing your camp photos!
How to structure your camp
#1 The Team Approach
- Activities need to take about the same amount of time to complete
- Will you group students by their existing class, or into differentiated groups? This could be an opportunity to teach at different levels if students need different levels of support to be prepared. For example, you could have a group of students who is needing to meet the standard at a basic level. You’ll provide them with “survival skills”. Then you may have a group who’s been successful to this point and you want to provide them with extension activities, or lessons to help them move beyond the basics.
- If kids have been taught to approach the test-taking strategies differently in different classes, you’ll have to figure out if you’re prepared to align those strategies, or if the kids will have the freedom to approach problems and questions in the way they’re already familiar with.
- What behavior expectations are in place? Are they consistent enough to support your students as they move from room to room?
- Any specialized support personnel who come into your classroom should be used effectively. Group students so that there will be a support person for those who need it. Will they travel from room to room, or stay in one room in which the kids will need the most support?
#2 All in one Room
#3 A Little at a Time
How to plan activities that actually meet your standards
- How many kids will you want in each group? This might determine how many activities you plan. If you need to, you can create two stations of the same activity to keep the group size small. (I recommend groups of 3-4, tops.)
- Will you run a station? Plant yourself at a table and support students through a station that will challenge them, or one that you NEED them to learn something new or finally make the connections they need to in order to be prepared.
- Will you have kids check their work before they finish the activity? You can provide an answer key in a folder if you want kids to check that they’ve done the work correctly.
- What standards will students be tested on the most? This is where you should focus your activities.
- Look at a released test to see what kinds of thinking kids have to do and what the context of the thinking is.
- Cute activities are fun, but the activities the kids spend their time on need to hit the exact standard that they’ll be tested on.
- Writing example: Will they be asked to combine sentences? In what way – using FANBOYS? Complex sentences? Appositives? Whatever the kids are asked to do, your activity needs to require them to do that.
- Math example: Will students have to problem solve using graphs? What kinds of graphs? Pie charts? Bar graphs? Pictographs? With keys? Whatever the kids are asked to do, your activity needs to require them to do that.
- Reading example: Students obviously have to answer questions. But in what genres? What strategies are kids being asked to use? What kinds of evidence do they have to find?
- Provide students with a blank notebook or journal as their “Camp Journal”. They can write in their notebooks whenever they finish an activity.
- Hands-on materials are especially engaging. Using sentence strips for sorting or revision, puzzle pieces or index cards for matching, dry erase markers and laminated materials, and dice make for a fun day.
Why do you need to keep track of what they do? There could be a few reasons: quality control, accountability, and grades. To keep track of what kids do (and motivate them at the same time) you have a few options.
1. Use a punch card or bracelet. Create a punch card with a table on it. Each square in the table represents one station activity. As students finish the activity, they earn a punch on the card.
2. Have technology in your classroom? Use the Seesaw app. Have students take a quick picture of the activity they have completed and turn it in.
3. Create a Camp Memory Book. Each student will have a set of recording sheets that they will complete as they move through their activities.
4. Have students earn a “camp badge” for each station they complete.
How to make it camp-y
#3 Decorate with red checkered tablecloths, small lanterns, stuffed or inflatable “wildlife”, and tackleboxes.
#4 Use butcher paper to decorate and create rivers, bushes, and trees for a campy ambience!
#5 Create a campfire out of paper towel rolls or rolled-up butcher paper, or project a fire video using your laptop and a projector.
|Scooby snacks, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.|
|Cinnamon toast crunch, marshmallows, and chocolate chips or chunks.|
#7 Turn out the lights and have kids read with flashlights!
#8 Sing camp songs or play them on a speaker.
#9 Use camp themed activities. Ideas that are related to camping include…
- pitching a tent
- backpacks/gearing up
- wildlife, such as bears
- white river rafting
- building a campfire
- telling ghost stories around the campfire
- s’mores & hot dogs
- observing nature: trees, wildflowers, etc.
- looking at the constellations
- national parks
#10: Use camp themed materials. This might include read alouds like A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee or test prep materials specifically designed to help your kids review the skills they need, like Camp Reading Ready or Camp Write-a-Lot!