So you’re trying to figure out what to do after standardized testing.
You’ve prepped all year for the big week, and now it’s time to get out of testing mode.
On the one hand, you have lots of activities and lessons in your teaching toolkit that you haven’t touched this school year and could whip out one of those bad boys the following week sin problema.
But on the other hand, the kids are exhausted.
They’ve prepared for standardized testing all year and need a break.
But they’ve got to learn something.
If you don’t have plans and structure for the remaining weeks of school, the kids get crazy.
And you absolutely do not want that!
What to Do After Standardized Testing: See the Cup Half Full
Post standardized testing is honestly one of my favorite times of the school year.
It’s one of the few times of the year where you can freely do all of those creative activities that you’ve wanted to do during the school year but were afraid to do so out of fear of negative critique from administration.
Using teaching materials not officially part of the adopted curriculum is a no-no in many schools.
After standardized testing, most administrators are busy hiring new staff, wrapping up the official school year, and anticipating the standardized test results which leads to more stuff for them to do based on the data.
Take advantage of that!
Leave the cookie cutter lessons behind!
After standardized testing, prepare activities that are fun and truly spark a love of learning!
That frustration that you feel due to lack of creativity and autonomy in your teaching is let go.
It’s a beautiful feeling indeed.
This post gives you a list of activities that provide a smooth and successful transition from standardized testing back to normal classroom routines.
It’s a common notion that student discipline problems increase towards the end of the school year.
To note, student discipline problems in my classroom hardly ever increased towards the end of the year (simply the same ‘ole shenanigans they had done throughout the year 😊), and they were engaged until the last day of school.
I attribute that to this list of activities coupled with my enthusiasm for finally getting the freedom to do fun and engaging lessons that met state standards but weren’t necessarily based from an adopted, scripted program.
Not only are these activities engaging, but just about all…
- Promote critical thinking.
- Tap into various learning styles.
- Meet state standards.
- Lend themselves to collaboration.
- Make going to work/school everyday super enjoyable for you and the kids!
Never worry again about what to do after standardized testing.
Let’s dig into it, shall we?
25+ Activities to Do After Standardized Testing
What kid doesn’t love to take on the role of teacher?
Reciprocal teaching is the student taking on the role of teacher. Here’s how it works.
Put students into groups of 3 or 4.
Assign each student within the group a skill or strategy. Then students take turns teaching each other their skill – about 10 minutes each.
Reciprocal teaching helps you see how well your kiddos grasped certain skills/strategies taught throughout the year.
Use some of these informal observations on report card comments.
Participating in reading buddies with another grade level is so much fun for kids.
Though any grade-level combination works, ideally, I’ve found that 2nd/5th, Kinder/3rd, and 1st/4th grade pairings work best.
The age and academic gaps in these pairings are wide enough to allow for both sets of students to actually get something significant out of the experience. The older kids do the “teaching” role while the younger ones take on the “learner” role.
If you’ve done reading buddies throughout the year, add some flava by having the older students help the younger ones complete a mini book project or create a craft related to the book.
You could do math or science buddies instead of reading buddies.
The older kids help the little ones practice math skills or create a simple math game.
Collaborate with another teacher, and make reading buddies a weekly event!
Reading Week is time devoted to having different individuals such as parents and staff members visit your classroom to read books to students. It is a simple event with huge impact.
Many parents enjoy opportunities to be involved with their child’s class, and Reading Week is a chance to do that.
Send an email to parents and faculty members (specials’ teachers, administrators, specialists, and/or support staff). Ask if they would be willing to commit 15 to 30 minutes of their time to come and read a book to students. You could easily send a Google Doc to all with a sign-up schedule.
I like to do Reading Week along with an author study.
As an example, Gail Gibbons is my favorite children’s author.
So I gather all of the titles of her books that are available in the school library. I send that list within the request email parents/faculty, and ask each interested person to choose one of her books to share.
Visitors read books in English or Spanish depending on the population of your students. They may discuss the book with the kids as they read and also ask questions – whatever they like!
If a parent has a different book interest other than those on my list, that’s fine too.
It’s just a wonderful time to read and listen for pure enjoyment while getting exposed to different authors and text genres.
I choose to focus on nonfiction because it’s a genre that’s much less frequent in children’s school life compared to fiction.
Exposing students to great non-fiction authors is always a win!
When you were a child, you were probably asked more than once, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And still today, adults ask kids this question, and we repeatedly hear the usual responses: “Doctor, lawyer, teacher, scientist, etc.”
Interestingly, though, there are a variety of awesome professions out in the world that many never consider. In the technological age that we’re living in right now, there are even more unique career opportunities for kids that maybe even their parents haven’t been exposed to because it’s just a different time all together.
Invite professionals from traditional and “new-age careers” (I just made that phrase up!) to come and speak with your students about the skills, education, and mindset needed for their respective career.
Include professions from technical schools, trade schools, community colleges, and 4-year schools. A few entrepreneurs sprinkled in the mix wouldn’t hurt either (In fact, that would actually be amazing!).
Exposing children to various careers like this at a very young age is very impactful. Plant those seeds in their head that there are a variety of opportunities available to earn a decent living. We all have unique skill-sets.
By the time they arrive to middle/high school, they’ll have a better understanding of their interests and abilities.
Contact parents, community connections, and/or different company representatives to see if anyone is willing to come to the school to talk with your kids for Career Day!
Have your young authors write letters to the students who will be moving up to their grade level the following school year.
With this activity, students practice writing a letter with good details since they’ll want to include all the ins and outs of their current grade level.
In addition to writing letters to students, consider having your kiddos write letters to room parents, cafeteria staff, favorite teachers, or anyone else in the school who they’d like to show appreciation for the services/help they’ve provided to them and/or others during the school year.
After standardized testing week, Mother’s Day prep and the end-of-the-year to-do-list are on the brain.
A nice gesture is to have students create simple gifts of appreciation for mothers and/or room parents.
Gifts don’t have to be anything fancy… a painted wooden picture frame, hand-crafted art project, poem, etc.
Gift-making, especially when the item is for a loved one, brings out the warm fuzzies in kids. ❤
Art is a great outlet to take advantage of after standardized testing as kids have the freedom to express themselves creatively.
Mosaic and papier mache are two favorites among students.
I still remember the papier mache hot-air balloon I created in the 4th grade. Super fun and way cool!
If you really want to take art a bit further, consider origami, the art of folding paper.
The children’s book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes makes a great read aloud for an origami art lesson.
Poetry is another form of art.
Though you may have taught it during the school year, revisit and explore it with students from a purely enjoyment standpoint.
The art of poetry is one of the few areas in literature where it’s okay to not be so hard with students regarding grammar, punctuation, spelling, and all of that other formal language arts stuff. Your young poets are free to express themselves with minimal limitations.
Want to take things a bit further?
Host a Poetry Open Mic, a day where students present/recite their poetry masterpieces to other classes and/or their parents.
If you need help getting started with poetry, check out these poetry writing lessons for kids.
Songwriting goes right along with poetry.
To keep things simple, take a melody from a popular kids’ song, and have learners add their own lyrics.
You may need to first model writing one or two songs with students. Then set them free to begin their own songwriting! (with another melody though in order to minimize copying.)
Afterwards, students present their songs to the class.
So much fun!
Book clubs are an excellent choice for upper elementary students.
Book clubs in the form of literature circles easily teach to the standards, and by year’s end, students have had many opportunities to use various reading skills/strategies with a variety of texts.
Because of this, each reader should be able to perform every literature circle role assigned with minimal direct instruction.
Here’s a list of literature circle roles to use with fiction and nonfiction books.
Sudoku. The ultimate critical thinking and logic puzzle!
Once they have a clear strategy for completing one, these puzzles engage students very well. In the beginning, they need guidance and strategy practice, so modeling is key.
Kids working in pairs works best for beginners.
Hidden pictures are always a hit!
Do you remember those Highlights magazines for kids?
As a child, I couldn’t wait to get the new edition in the mail because I wanted the new hidden picture!
I promise Hidden Pictures will entertain your kiddos!
If you need a breather right after standardized test-taking, this activity is definitely for you.
Print a few from the internet or complete a few online hidden picture puzzles with your students using a projector.
Simple and fun!
They are one of the best activities to do after standardized testing.
Reading, science, social studies, math – you can integrate any subject with a readers’ theater, and they’re always a hit!
With these low-prep plays, kids learn the standards. However, they do so by being dramatic, in a very good way!
You can spice up readers’ theaters by having students create simple props.
If you need a little help getting started with readers’ theater, check out this how to do a reader’s theater article.
With Mother’s Day approaching soon after standardized testing, consider performing a Mother’s Day readers’ theater play!
Thank You Notes
In addition to writing letters of appreciation, I love having students write a simple thank you note to someone in the school community who has really touched them in a special way during the school year.
Purchase a small pack of thank you cards or have students make them. Show students some examples of thank you messages, and then have them write their own.
Address notes to a cafeteria worker, bus driver, specialist – any one special person for that student.
Thank you cards are a quick but special way to show gratitude and appreciation.
With all the technology available today, WebQuests feel a bit dated.
Yet they’re still very much effective for guiding students in completing research on a particular topic.
If you’ve never heard of a WebQuest, get information about them here.
They’re fairly easy to implement and keep kids engaged.
Here are a list of WebQuest lessons to get you started. Tweak them to your liking.
Help students widen their perspectives through debates!
Teaching author’s purpose beyond “pie” is a challenge because it requires critical thinking about a deeper meaning. What is the author trying to get us to think, do, or believe?
Debates tackle author’s purpose beyond “pie” like a charm.
Essentially, the purpose of a debate is persuasion. One speaker tries to persuade another to see things from her point of view using facts, opinions, anecdotes, psychological tactics, etc.
Debates promote student interaction and collaboration, plus they get kids thinking outside of the box. Teach students the basics of doing a debate, and then give them a dilemma to consider.
If you don’t know what to do after standardized test but know absolutely that you want something really challenging and thought-provoking, consider debates.
Start with these debate prompts.
Turn a book or activity into a project. Reading projects are fun when the activity is unique and creative.
After reading a novel, students can create a movie poster to persuade others to see a pretend movie version. (This is also a great activity for teaching author’s purpose beyond pie!).
Want something more crafty?
Have students create a diorama related to a significant scene from the book.
And don’t forget about social studies and science. These two subjects are easily pushed aside during the school year when time gets tight.
Make up for lost time by having students complete more projects in these subject areas.
The DIY solar oven is a great science experiment for the end of the year as the weather is usually perfect for baking!
Students portfolios are extremely powerful in getting kids to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses while also showcasing their best work.
Though I believe portfolios serve students best when they have collected samples of their best work throughout the year and reflected on those pieces during those respective times, an impromptu portfolio creation session definitely works!
Students collect 5 to 15 artifacts from any subject and in any form to showcase.
They’ll then take one of those tri-fold science boards and strategically place the artifacts.
With guidance from you on presenting, learners present their portfolios to peers from another class and/or parents.
This is a time of celebration of milestones and accomplishments!
Project-based learning activities provide an opportunity for students to apply the skills/strategies that they’ve learned throughout the school year and in previous years to a specific task.
These higher-order thinking activities promote teamwork along with critical thinking skills.
One of my favorite project-based learning resources is from Math Teaching Resources. The cost is small compared to the value you and your students receive from these well-thought out, creative project ideas!
Students work with a partner or small group to create a game teaching any skill/strategy they learned this school year.
If you want to take things further, use the games with your new students the following school year!
Who doesn’t love a field trip?
Schedule a field trip or two to get kids outside of the four walls of the classroom. If you can’t take a field trip, bring the field trip to you!
Invite individuals to share activities, experiments, and projects with students.
Field trips and other extracurricular activities bring the curriculum to life!
Cooking with kids is so much fun!
It integrates math, science, and reading; it’s a win all around.
For time management and crowd control, involve parents to assist. Your recipes need not be complicated.
Simple recipes for kids abound on Google.
Financial literacy isn’t in the curriculum of many schools, but after standardized testing is a great time to include lessons in some fashion.
Making a budget, running a class store, learning about taxes – these are all fun activities that teach the basics of financial literacy.
To get started, have a look at these financial literacy lesson plans.
With time capsules, students fill a shoebox with artifacts that they want to remember about the school year.
In a year or two, they open the box and reflect on the pieces contained in the box.
If you work in a school where the kids are not highly mobile, keep the shoe boxes somewhere in your classroom if space allows.
At the end of the following school year, give the boxes to your previous students’ current teachers in order for students to open the boxes.
When artifacts are revisited, this activity is pretty cool. It’s awesome watching the kids reminisce.
Extensions of Lessons
Ever pay attention to those extension and challenge activities presented at the end of lessons within textbooks?
Honestly, I don’t.
A lot of educators ignore those activities though they’re excellent exercises – challenging, hands-on, and higher-order thinking leveled. Additionally, they tap into various learning styles.
Return to some of those chapters and have students work on a few of the problems in pairs or small groups.
Measurement is a good one to revisit in math since it’s one of the chapters rushed through right before standardized testing.
At the beginning of each school year, you review rules and procedures with students. Here’s a way to make it more personal.
Create visual reminders for your future students so that they see daily reminders about expectations.
Here’s how it’s done.
Divide your current students into 2 groups: “appropriate” and “inappropriate”.
Give a rule or procedure (e.g. stand in line), and then have each group act out/show the respective way to do each.
Snap a photo of each action.
Continue doing this with other rules/procedures: organizing centers, eating in the cafeteria, playing fairly on the playground, etc.
NOTE: It make take a few days to take all of these photos since it’s best to take them in the proper settings.
After you’ve taken all photos, organize images into a PowerPoint, Google Presentation, and/or print them.
The following school year, present the PowerPoint to your new students, and create an anchor chart with learners, placing and labeling the appropriate and inappropriate action images.
Students are more likely to focus on the information because the kids demonstrating the actions are actual kids from their school.
And what’s cool is that they’ll get to do the same activity at the end of the school year for the new kids moving up to their grade level.
Want to take things a step further?
Put the actions in video form and have the new students watch the first week of school!
Movies sometimes get a bad rep, but there’s a time and place for everything.
Right after standardized testing is one of those times when it comes to movies.
Students need a day after testing to disconnect and zone out a little. Make it fun by adding Pajama Day to the mix, light snacks, and a bit of extra outside time.
This is a time to celebrate all of the hard work and effort students put forth in completing all of those standardized tests!
Character Traits Charades
Character traits charades reviews vocabulary and gets kids moving.
Give each student a character trait.
One by one, each student acts out his trait in front of the class. Peers guess.
Whoever guesses correctly acts out his word next. The game continues as such until everyone has had an opportunity to act out her word.
Character Traits Photos + Interactive Writing
Give each student a character trait.
He or she must make a face or complete an action that depicts that trait. Snap a picture of their pose.
After all have taken a snapshot, put the images on chart paper. During an interactive writing lesson, students take turns writing the character trait underneath each photo.
Save the anchor chart to use as a reference the following school year.
Do nothing different!
Well, okay, spice it up just a tad!
Add a BrainPop video, work outside, incorporate literacy centers, permit students to write in pen, etc.
A small detail can make a big difference to a monotonous routine.
Wrapping Up: What to Do After Standardized Testing
No more trying to figure out what to do after standardized testing. This list of activities covers you until the end of the school year.
Go out with a bang!
Until next time,
Happy teaching and learning!
WHAT TO READ NEXT:
- Check out these test prep activities to review material before standardized testing starts.
- The Prove It reading strategy deepens reading comprehension and is fantastic for test prep.