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SOL Test Prep Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom

March 3, 2021 No Comments
using a laptop to review for the Virginia SOL test

As March and April roll around, we start hearing those three little words: “Test. Prep. Time.”

We know it’s coming. The good news is that there are a lot of engaging SOL test review activities that you can use with your 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.

Here are some of my favorite activities to use for test prep in any subject throughout the year and as the VDOE SOL testing window approaches.

1. Games

I like adapting a traditional game into a test review activity. You can make up your own questions, use task cards or flash cards, or repurpose questions from released SOL tests. Here are just a few games to try:

  • task card scoot
  • Taboo
  • vocabulary Bingo
  • Connect 4
  • Jenga
  • Jeopardy

Flashlight tag is another one of my favorites. I keep a running anchor chart of important terms for each unit. We turn the lights off. Student A thinks of a question and calls on Student B to answer it. Student B shines a flashlight on the correct word on the chart, and then he/she comes up with a question. I don’t know why, but kids love this game!

One year, I had students work in groups of 2-3 to make their own board games. Then we had a game day where they could rotate and play all the different games. It was a huge hit!

2. Movement Activities

I love to find opportunities to get out of our seats and to get outside when we can. Here are some ideas for SOL test review activities that require a bit of movement:

  • quiz and trade
  • “Find a Classmate Who”
  • relay race
  • scavenger hunt
  • snowball fight with questions (crumpled up pieces of paper)
  • bowling
  • Four Corners
  • human number line

A “brain dump” gallery walk is an easy way to review. Grab a few pieces of large paper, write a topic or question on each, and display them around the room or in the hallway. Have students rotate among the papers to write what they know about it. This is an easy informal way to see what students still remember about a topic.

One of my favorite Virginia Studies review activities is to play Guess Who/What/Where. You just write important people/places/vocab on index cards and tape one on each student’s back. They go around the room asking yes/no questions to guess their topic.

Another variation is a “Find a Classmate Who” game. I print name tags with important people’s names. Students write down the classmate’s name who represents a specific contribution on the worksheet below.

It’s just as easy to take your SOL review outside! You can tape up some questions on the school wall or playground or ask questions and have students write their answers with sidewalk chalk on the blacktop!

3. Digital Test Prep

Given that most students will take the SOL tests online, they do need to do some test prep on the computer. Luckily, there are tons of ways to make this really engaging and get them practicing technology (TEI) skills at the same time!

Some interactive digital tools for SOL review include Google Slides, Google Forms, Jamboard, Boom Learning, Flipgrid, Kahoot!, and Plickers.

This “Odd One Out” math SOL review game for Google Slides is a fun way for students to review content from the 4th grade Virginia math SOLs.

4. Sorting Activities

Sorting activities make great test prep because they help students to differentiate among concepts, like similar places, people, events, documents, and especially vocabulary words. You can have them do open sorts, and explain why they sorted the way they did, or sort according to a set of rules.

Tip: Have them glue a sort to a piece of paper when they’re done. Now they have another study aid.

You can also have students complete digital sorting activities, which helps them practice TEI skills at the same time.

5. Color by Number

Students LOVE completing color-by-code worksheets for test prep. To review more complex content, I use questions with 2 or 3 answer choices that all have their own colors.

6. Traditional SOL Review

Many students are successful with, and even prefer, more “traditional” test review methods, like flash cards, study guides, practice tests, and daily or weekly review problems. While these might not seem as flashy, they also have value, and you’ll want to incorporate them into your SOL review.

I find that families appreciate having copies of study guides, especially for social studies, science, and math, so they can help reinforce content at home.

I hope this post helped give you some ideas as you plan your end-of-year SOL test review. And AFTER the SOL tests are over, click here for some ideas of what to do next!

I love using a variety of engaging, hands-on activities for SOL test review with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students!

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