# How to Have Fun When You Don’t Have Time for Fun!

Some of my favorite memories of my elementary school years involve making crafts and playing games! My favorite craft was making gingerbread scented salt dough ornaments! But, anyone who teaches in this day and age knows we don’t always have time to do the fun stuff, right! So, to make the most of the season I sneak in a little holiday cheer as often as possible! Here are a few of my favorite ways to sneak in some fun when you have too much curriculum to cover or a dreaded math assessment to review for!

As simple as it sounds, white printer paper, colored markers and stickers or stamps can add a little holiday cheer to even the most dull math tasks! Here is an example of a Math Review I did yesterday with one of my Fourth graders. She has a test this week so we needed to spend some serious time reviewing fractions, but you can see that we still made it fun!

I bet you can figure out what my third graders are reviewing this week!  Check out this simple array activity to practice multiplication! This could also be used for fact families!

But what if you have to work on a review with word problems? No problem! You make that into a present too! Take any review or set of task cards and have students make a cheerful answer sheet like this:

Well, if you know me at all, you know I LOVE MATH GAMES, so I will have to mention that you can turn any math skill into a game!  Here is one of my favorites from my TpT Store:

# 5 Top Tips for Test Prep

Seriously, how did it go so fast? Here we are almost to the end of the year, enjoying the Spring weather and looking forward to lazy days of Summer … BUT … we have to get through end of year testing first!

Here are a few tips to make test prep successful:

Tip 1:  Prioritize areas of need – I don’t know where you are, but here in Texas we have SO MUCH to teach in a school year! When it comes time to review and get ready for testing it can be overwhelming trying to review it all! So take some time to sit down and reflect on what skills your students need to review the most. It is often different every year with each group of students.  Spend extra time on the skills your students need the most.

Tip 2:  Use student strengths to build confidence. So after you reflect on which key objectives and skills you need to review the most, spend some time reflecting on what your students are really good at! Review these skills (less than priority skills, but still review) to keep them fresh in your student’s minds and also to build confidence! If the students can see what they are good at, they will not be as stressed about what they still need to practice. I like to encourage my students by pointing out skills they found difficult at the beginning of the year and have now mastered! I say things like “Wow! Remember how hard ___ was at the beginning of the year and look how great you are with it now!” or “You have learned so much! You are so ready to ACE this on your test!.”

Tip 3: Make it fun!  Realistically you can’t make every second of every day fun, but do what you can when you can. When students are having fun they are more engaged in learning! Play games, set up scavenger hunts, play music or decorate your classroom like the circus! Anything to keep your class from feeling so bogged down by the stress of “The Test”.

Tip 4: Smile!  This might not sound like a test taking tip, but trust me on this one! When your students see you all super stressed out, they feel it! Smiling will help everyone relax!  Maybe some yoga? Or a funny cat video on YouTube?

Tip 5:  Add movement!  Take some breaks to move around! If kids are in their seats too long they get sleepy and bored! Play multiplication games with a beach ball, take a walk around your hallway, do jumping jacks … have a 3 minute “dance party” as a break between lessons.  You could even use a Math Song to dance to! I love this Eight Times Tables Song!