Sunday, March 6, 2016

Making Test Prep Fun with an Olympic Competition

How many of you are coming up on those big state tests?!?! We are nearing the time when we have to take them again! Being a third grade teacher, I know my kiddos need test prep, it is the way of the land. There is no getting around it! So, I tried to come up with a way that would get them focused, engaged, and excited about test prep and that was when the Test Prep Olympics was created!

The test prep olympics was created for my entire third grade team at my school. You could do this for just your classroom or even the whole school! The more competitors the better! You can easily change up the way you do the competitions to make it work best for your classroom!

For us, we made it a 5 week competition. We began on Monday with an opening ceremony! This was BEYOND fun! We laughed, yelled, chanted, ran through signs, and got a little crazy! Before the ceremony, each classroom picked a country that they wanted to represent and created a country chant! The classes also made signs that we attached to yard sticks that they ran through! When we got outside, we announced each country and they ran through their sign doing their chant! They also held up small flags that we created using popsicle sticks! At the end the teachers ran out with their torches announcing that the Olympics had begun! The students went CRAZY! They loved every minute and I knew that I was going to have some focused kiddos doing test prep!!

The way that we complete this each week is the following:

1. Each class does test prep everyday for 15-20 minutes. For us, you could do any test prep you wanted whether that be reading, math, or writing. We would use these paragraphs of the day for reading often!

2. During the week the teacher takes notes on who is working the hardest! The teacher also can pick a specific skill that they will look for. For example, this week I wrote down kiddos who restated their question on every short answer that we practiced during paragraph of the day.

3. Then, on Friday the teacher picks 5 students to compete for their country in the competition. You talk about WHY you picked them, so the other students know what behaviors they need to match!

**Side note, this is the most motivating thing ever! This week, I watched my students complete a writing prompt where they wrote for 20 minutes straight! Not one of them looked up and their writing was FANTASTIC! I couldn't believe what a little motivation and competition could do for them! The writing project even included using text evidence from sources. You can find that test prep writing here! 

4. On Fridays, the teachers have test prep questions that the students answer. We use Test Prep Centers from Not So Wimpy Teacher , task cards, paragraphs of the day, or any test prep we can find for the questions. We do this in a completion. So, for example on basketball week the students had to answer a question correctly in order to shoot a basket. They do the competition in order to receive a gold medal or trophies (we bought medals and trophies from Meijer's!) We put a gold, silver, or bronze medal on our doors each time you win one so that way the other classrooms can see where each class stands! It is SO.MUCH.FUN!

Check out this FREEBIE to see all the competitions that we have, get a parent letter, and to get some free signs! For the competitions, we allow the students to play against the other countries! The students who are not competing that week will watch, cheer, chant, and keep score! They all love it and it motivates them to work to get into the competition the following week!

At the end of these 5 weeks we will have a closing ceremony! This will be directly after our tests and will include lots of music, award ceremonies, and fun!

Meanwhile, I provide you with this FREEBIE (Updated for 2018) that is full of the competitions, certificates, and the flags for the countries we used! You need to jump on this party train with us! I left Friday with the largest smile on my face and I had parents emailing me telling me how much fun their students had!

Test Preparation Materials I use during the week include:
1. Paragraph of the Day- simple quick paragraphs to support students close reading and text evidence skills.
2. Kapok Tree Opinion Writing- work on creating an opinion and support text
3. Hurricane Informational Writing- working on quoting text through informational writing.
4. Reading Skill Lessons- engaging and hands-on lessons for every third grade standard and skill.

If you have any questions, please contact me, email me at! I am CRAZY about this and would love to help you implement it in your school!


  1. I love this idea!!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I have a couple logistical questions. On Friday do only the 5 students selected answer questions? Do they work alone or as a group? How many questions do they have? I am very excited to try this at my school - we have teachers in grades 3-5 who are interested!

    1. I am so sorry I never saw this comment! Only the five students answer the questions and we usually let them work as a group. This is really just for fun and the test preparation comes all week. It depends on the game, but usually only 5-10 questions!

  2. This is helpful. I am planning an elementary math winter games to help motivate our students to work on their math facts. I love your ideas! I noticed the certificates still say 2017. Could you update them? Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!!