Monday morning greetings, friends! I hope that spring has finally sprung for most of you; it’s FINALLY above 60 before 10 here in the nation’s capital. Our windows and sliding door our open and sunshine is everywhere. While most of you are either in the middle of testing or probably just getting ready to start, I’m here with my little nuggets who have no idea how to share and are just grabbing toys from each other all the time. #youcanlearntoshareanytimenow
I was inspired by the #tptchat last night to share some of my favorite test survival tips. I’ve only taught lower elementary grades, so while we never had to take the test we certainly feel the effects of the test by not having specials some days, or by not having students pulled out, by having to have indoor recess because testing isn’t finished, etc. Everyone in a school building feels the effects and pressures of testing. Today, I’m going to share my top 5 favorite tips to blow off the testing steam.
- We loved to take YouTube dance breaks, and Sesame Street has lots of great songs that are 3 minutes or less. Here are some of our class favorites: Usher sings the ABCs, Will.i.am sings about being awesome, and Gwen Stefani sings about being a great friend. There are also some super cute Cookie Monster parodies of famous movies that are about 5 minutes long. Obviously they don’t involve kids getting up and dancing, but sometimes kids just need to give their brains a break for a minute. If you search YouTube for “sesame street cookie monster parodies” you’ll get a long list, but here are a few you might like: Jurassic Cookie, Star S’Mores, and Cookies of the Caribbean. What’s also nice about the Cookie Monster parodies is that there’s some learning going, like in Cookies of the Caribbean they’re teaching task persistence, and in Star S’Mores they’re talking about self-control.
- And, of course, we always LOVE Go Noodle for brain breaks. Dino Stomp was always popular! You do have to sign up to use Go Noodle, but it’s free for teachers.
- When the weather is nice, we took advantage of every kids favorite reward: bonus recess. Sometimes we would take Choice Time outside; sometimes we would just take about 15 minutes to run off some energy.
- My first Donors Choose project ever was for a class set of yoga mats, so when the weather was nice we would take our yoga mats outside and do some yoga. If the weather was poor we would do it inside, but it’s obviously way smushier to do it inside. Here are some pins to help you, if you want to try out yoga with your kids: ABCs of yoga, and Bunny Yoga.
- I also always tried to add in some extra crafts and projects to testing. Mo Willem’s Pigeon books were always popular with my kids, so we would usually do a writing activity where we decorated a cut out of the pigeon (I just free handed my own blackline and photocopied it) and writing that finished the prompt “Don’t let the pigeon” and they would come up with things the pigeon shouldn’t do. It was always a popular activity. And I don’t have a picture because I just went through and panic deleted a ton of pictures because my phone said it was almost out of room. It was also a fun time to go back to graphing and data, because they connect so well to projects.
I also found it to be a great time to incentivize behavior with big whole class rewards, like a movie or a popcorn party. We would set goals, as a class, and choose rewards together. It was always nice to see them working together to reach their goals of a movie party or extra Choice Time or whatever it was that they chose.
I hope that you all survive testing, and have a great week! Spring is here! xoxo, Rachel