Are you looking for review games to keep your students engaged and excited about spiral review ahead of your standardized tests? This post includes four unique review strategies that gamify the classroom and pump your students up to review!
All four review games are classroom tested and have shown themselves to be crowd pleasers with upper elementary students, but will work at any level by modifying the materials and content being used.
Let’s dive right in!
My Favorite Review Games for Test Prep
Hot Stew Review
Hot Stew Review is a PowerPoint review game where students work collaboratively to answer questions and earn points towards their total.
There are 20 questions and answers slides. After each question, there is an opportunity for students to choose a vegetable from the pot of stew and write down their selection on the recording sheet. The following slide will reveal how many points they have earned, but it isn’t always a positive point value! Sometimes teams will lose half or all their points, a certain point value, or have the opportunity to double their points.
Due to the point values being random throughout the game, every team is in it to win it until the very last question upping engagement and encouraging students to continue to work hard throughout.
You can check out Hot Stew Review for yourself here.
This is another review game that always garnered cheers from my students. The idea of crumpling up their papers and throwing them across the room was some kind of fantasy for them. What can I say? I love to make their dreams come true!
To play trashketball, students should be in teams, preferably of four. Every student needs a whiteboard and marker.
- The teacher reads a question or displays it in some manner
- Students work individually to answer the question
- When given the signal, students confer with their teams to come up with a single answer which they write on a piece of scrap paper
- The teacher asks for answers from the team
- All teams show their answers
- Teams who answered correctly select a team member to squish the paper into a ball and take a shot into the trash can or recycling bin
- If they make it into the bin they receive the point for the question, if not, even if they had a correct answer, they do not
If you want to add another element of challenge into the game you can mark off 1, 2, and 3 point lines for students to shoot their trashketballs from. Students love this extra element because it adds a sense of risk and allows teams to come from behind later in the game.
Towers is one of those review games that it so beautifully simple it just works!
To play Towers all you need are a set of questions and some kind of building material. You may choose to use paper cups, blocks, math cubes, or anything else you have available.
Once again students should be in partners or teams. Towers is especially fun to play in partners because it adds more competition and there are no points to keep track of.
- A question is given
- Students work together to find the answer
- I prefer to use the Heads Together strategy for students to find the answer so that every student is doing the work instead of just one or two from each team
- Students reveal their answers to the class
- Each team or partner set who answered correctly receives one cup (or whatever building material you are using)
- For now, the cups are just set to the side of their workspace
- I tell students if they are messing with their materials during the question answering phase they will receive one warning and then lose a cup for each further infraction
- Continue the process for all questions or until you have about three minutes left for the review game
- Once all questions have been answered and partners or teams have the appropriate number of cups set the timer
- I prefer to use 2 minutes for this part of the activity, but it is up to you
- The challenge is for each set of partners or team to try and build the highest tower with the number of cups they have. It is completely up to them how to build the tower.
- When time is up all hand are off and you go around with a yardstick finding the tallest tower.
Students really get into their tower creations and just because a team has the most cups doesn’t necessarily mean they win, but it certainly does help!
Stinky Feet always has been, and probably always will be my absolute favorite review game. It was introduced to be by a colleague and was an immediate hit with my students.
There are two ways to play, the sticky note version and the digital version.
To play with sticky notes, you will need to create a poster covered with sticky notes. On the back of each sticky note should be a point value, with both positive and negative points included.
Once again, students are in a team of 4 to play and each student will need their own whiteboard and marker.
- A question is introduced to the group
- Students work independently to answer the question before conferring as a group to answer
- A correct answer means the team chooses a sticky note
- Continue this process for all questions or for as long as time allows
In the end, you total up the number points and the team with the most (or least if you decide) points wins. You could also choose to keep a running total of each team’s points.
To play the digital version, you will need this template or one of the pre-created Digital Stinky Feet editions here. Gameplay is the same, but instead of having sticky notes teams choose a stinky sock to reveal their points.
About All These Review Games
Something all these review games have in common is students working together to problem solve. Only together can they submit an answer. This leads to more critical thinking and important conversations.
This is important because no one student is able to carry a team. Nor can one student do all the work leaving other students not taking part in the review.
Additionally, none of these games focus on how quickly the work is done. Instead, they reward the quality of work or correct answers. I would caution you to stay away from a review that rewards rushing through work. It will build bad habits that cannot be easily broken.
Stinky Feet Directions
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