You’ve finished a unit and the test is on the calendar. Some students are hyper-vigilant – overwhelmingly anxious and frantic. Others are totally indifferent – “What test?” they ask casually. Either way, you don’t have the time to create fun and interesting test prep activities – you’ve still got that last set of labs to grade and there’s never enough time in the day anyway. But we know middle schoolers – they neither have the inclination to study nor the skills necessary to study. Incorporating fun test prep games into the classroom can make the process more engaging and interactive for students, and can also help you identify areas where specific students may need reinforcement. Here are some fun test prep ideas for middle school science you can use in your classroom this week.
Fun digital test prep ideas: There are some easy to use websites that allow teachers to create a Q-and-A type game for their students. The benefit of digital activities is that they are usually easier to create and use than non-digital activities. There are also a lot available for purchase to save you even more prep time. Here are my favorites:
- Quizlet Live, Blooket, Quizziz and Kahoot are all free with paid upgrades and perennial favorites. Gimkit has a free version that’s ok, but for $5/month you’ll be rolling in tons of activities that kids beg for.
- Boom cards are digital task cards are super simple to create and free to use, although there is a paid membership that improves the data available to teachers. If you’ve never tried Boom cards, here’s a free deck for you.
- If you have a little tech skill and you’re willing to invest a little time, you can make your own custom game that students can play as well. I’ve loved using 2 player digital racing games in which two students work on their own device but sharing a document so each can see what the other is doing. Students have to answer a series of questions to advance their player to the top of the maze. If you haven’t tried them, here’s a free one for you!
- Magic Pictures or pixel art – When students get the answers correct, parts of a picture are revealed. Instant feedback helps students build mastery and take ownership of their own learning. If you’ve never tried one, here’s a free one for you!
- Digital escape rooms – A digital escape room uses content-related puzzles to find clues and solve a mystery. Try a free digital escape room to see how they work.
Fun non-digital test prep ideas: It’s nice to get away from the devices sometimes, and there are lots of non-digital games you can play with your middle school science students to help them review for tests.
- Team games: When I first started gamifying my classroom, I would draw a football gridiron on the board and move a magnet 10 yards to the left or right whenever a team would get an answer correct. Adapt this idea to play Charades – students can act out vocabulary terms and try to get their team to guess – try this with the stages of mitosis or the rock cycle and you won’t regret it! Another version of this is Taboo – give one student a vocabulary term to try to get their teammates to guess, but give them “taboo” words as well – words that they can’t say as they’re playing. If the word you want them to try to guess is “inertia”, for example, make the taboo words related to it, like motion, rest, Newton, and first.
- File Folder Games – Give teams a file folder and some index cards. Have them draw a game board on the folder and questions on the index cards. Super engaging, but also a little time consuming.
- Scavenger hunts – solve this puzzle (in teams or individually) to find a clue in a different part of the classroom.
- Escape rooms or Breakouts – My students will literally beg for more escape rooms. They’re a lot of work to create, but the payoff in terms of engagement and motivation is huge.
- Scoot – Lay task cards around the room or hang them on the walls. Students travel from one card to another, recording their answers to each task card on a recording sheet. Sometimes I let students move to the next card at their own pace. Other times, I play music and they move when the music stops. I also might set a timer to let them know when to move.
- I have Who has – I play this with a timer and record how long it takes each class to complete one round. I write each class’s time on the board and leave it there for every other class to see. They love being the class with the best record. If you’ve never played, here’s a free I have Who has template for you!