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Must Watch Earth Day Videos to Use in Upper Elementary Classrooms


earth day lesson plans for upper elementary


If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, then you know that I just LOVE to engage and motivate students by tying the seasons and holidays into my everyday lesson plans.

And when the calendar is turned to April, Earth Day is front and center in my upper elementary classroom. You can find my students knee-deep in Earth Day reading, science, and research writing activities.  I love to watch them learn so much about our planet and vow to help protect it!

No matter how you involve your students in learning about how to take care of our planet, these FREE Earth Day videos will inspire, educate, and motivate your students to learn more ways to help take care of our planet this Earth Day. And bonus...you can grab a set of note-taking graphic organizers for free at the bottom of this post, perfect to help your students take notes as they watch these educational videos. (see more hands-on Earth Day activities HERE.)

Note: As with any video, website, or resource that you bring into your classroom, be sure to preview each video before sharing with your class to make sure that they are appropriate for your cohort of students.

Read Aloud: Here Comes the Garbage Barge (11 minutes)

This picture book is a true story about a town that had so much garbage and they did not have any place to put it. The Garbage Barge tells the story about how important it is to take care of garbage correctly and teaches environmental awareness.

earth day videos for the classroom

Happy Earth Day (17 mins long)

This video talks about Earth Day, endangered animals, how to make less garbage, what it means to reduce, reuse, and recycle and how to compost.

videos for earth day lesson plans elementary

What Happens When You Throw Out Plastic Bottles? by TED-Ed (4 mins)

This video goes on a journey as plastic bottles are discarded in different ways and illustrates the importance of recycling plastic bottles.


upper elementary earth day resources


National Geographic Kids: Save the Polar Bears (3 mins)

This video is one in a series that includes an overview of the species, why they are at risk of becoming extinct, and how kids can help to save animals around the world.

Other videoes in the same National Geographic Series:



earth day video resource for kids


While Brainpop and Brainpop Jr are {amazing}subscription websites, they do offer free videoes of the week. When April begins, they usually have free videoes of the week related to Earth Day. Be sure to check their sites weekly to see what free videos they are offering that week. If you are unfamiliar with these sites, Brainpopjr is geared towards grades 1-3 and Brainpop is geared towards 4th grade and older.

using brain pop in the classroom

earth day elementary resources


Want to get your kids up, singing, dancing, and moving around? Try these super catchy music videos that will have them singing all month long!

Recycling Song

Jack Johnson Recycling Song 


No matter how you decide to bring Earth Day into your classroom, include these videoes. These websites will help engage students, too.  Have students take notes, summarize, discuss, or just enjoy the information they are learning on different ways to save our planet, help endangered species, and reduce, reuse, and recycle.


earth day elementary resources

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7 Easy to Teach Earth Day Activities that Kids Love

earth day classroom ideas for upper elementary students


Earth Day is one of those holidays that I always get so excited to bring into the classroom! It is such an important topic to discuss and is highly engaging for students. Earth Day celebrates our planet and home and all the different ways that people everywhere can work together to keep our planet clean and safe.

Earth Day topics naturally lend themselves to being taught across all content areas, making learning about this holiday seamless.

Here are some of my favorite content-rich activities to do with students to celebrate Earth Day using meaningful and educational activities. Be sure to scoop up the FREE Earth Day writing activity at the bottom of this post.

Earth Day Read Alouds

What is a holiday without a few favorite read-aloud books? There are so many great books to share with students during the month of April and several that relate directly to Earth Day. Here are a few of my favorites and the activities that I do with each.

earth day read aloud picture books and reading activities

Miss Rumphius written by Barbara Cooney

This book is perfect for any lesson on character analysis and theme. The main character is given the task to make the world a more beautiful place, which becomes her life mission and a task she passes on to her niece. Following a reading of this book, simply provide students with a blank piece of paper and ask them to create an illustration that shows how they will make the world a more beautiful place.

The Great Kapok Tree written by Lynne Cherry

This is one of my favorite books to read anytime during the year, especially during April. This book is about saving our precious rainforests and lends itself perfectly for students to write persuasive writing pieces. (more details on this activity below).


Wartville Wizard written by JP Madden

This is an oldie but a goodie! The Wartville Wizard has the power to stick garbage to the person who threw it away. An interesting tale with valuable lessons about the 3Rs. After reading this book, students read informational passages about the 3rs (reduce, reuse and recycle).

Will We Miss Them? written by A. Wright and Can We Save Them? written by D. Dobson

Both of these books carry the same message of helping save endangered animals from extinction. They make great read alouds before, during, and after my class complete their endangered animal research projects (more details on this activity below).


Michael Recycle written by Ellie Bethel

This book is the first in a series of Earth-friendly picture books focused on how children can make changes to help protect the planet and practice using the 3Rs. With colorful illustrations and rhyming verse, the kids love listening to these stories. Following a reading of this rhyming book, I have my students create their own poems to tell how they will help protect the planet.

Earth Day Science Reading and Group Presentations

There are so many topics that students can read about related to Earth Day. The history of Earth Day, How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and Water Pollution and Water Conservation to name a few. 
7 Easy to Teach Earth Day Activities that Kids Love

I love to have students read Earth Day close reading passages to gather information or research different topics related to Earth Day that they find interesting Teacher Tip: Make sure each group has a different topic. Then I have students work in groups to present what they learned. After they read the materials, they discuss the key points and then create a presentation to teach the rest of the class what they learned. Students can create digital presentations or speeches to share with the class. By doing these presentations, you give students the opportunity to learn about many different topics related to Earth Day even though they just researched one. My kids love learning from each other with projects like this!

Earth Day Songs and Videos

Get out your singing voice and get ready to belt the lyrics to a few of my favorite Earth Day songs!

  1. One Sweet World (Dave Matthews Band) Grab the lyrics HERE.
  2. 3Rs Song (Jack Johnson) Grab the lyrics HERE.
  3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Numberrock)
  4. Big Yellow Taxi (Counting Crows version) Grab the lyrics HERE

While just singing these songs and discussing their lyrics is powerful, go a step further and have students illustrate the song. You can have students create one illustration to wrap up the song, or you can have groups of students work together to create an illustration for one line of the song. Then when all students are done, compile their illustrations to create a class book that illustrates the entire song.

Get the links to all of my favorite videos to use for Earth Day instruction HERE.

Endangered Animals Research

7 Easy to Teach Earth Day Activities that Kids Love There is no project that I look more forward to each year than this Endangered Species Project. I have my students research the endangered animals that they choose, again making sure that students pick different animals. They use multiple sources, both internet and books, to gather important information for their research project. One great science website students use for this project is the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation). It includes the most up to date list of endangered species.

After students research and write their reports they share their work with their classmates in creative ways. They can make a book, video commercial, handout or give a speech. How ever they want to share the information is just fine with me. In fact, the more creative and unique the better!

Science Project: The Garbage Challenge

7 Easy to Teach Earth Day Activities that Kids Love The kids just love this science project and are always so engaged.
The concept is simple: turn a piece of garbage into something that can be used again in a different way. When I do this activity, I have students work in groups of 2-3. It helps with the brainstorming and creativity needed for this project. I bring in a large bag of garbage (items that I think can be turned into something else) and display them on a table. While the students are in their groups, they discuss which piece of garbage they would like to use for the project. All members must agree. One group at a time is called to select a piece of "garbage" from the table. Students work together to makeover the item they selected with classroom supplies. Students share their finished creations with the class when they are done. Have the teacher next door come in and vote on the most creative for an extra challenge! The kids love it!

Persuasive Writing Topics

Earth Day began by the persuasive acts of one US Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson who urged Congress to help educate people to care for our planet. What better way to honor this man than by writing persuasive essays about Earth Day topics.

Here are a few of my favorite Earth Day topics, perfect for persuasive writing:
  • Save the Rainforest
  • Celebrate Earth Day Every Day
  • Why You Need to Start a Compost
  • Why You Should Reduce
  • Why You Should Reuse
  • Why You Should Recycle

earth day writing prompts and project ideas

Dear Mother Earth Letter Writing

This sweet writing activity is one that you will want to do every year with your kids. To practice friendly letter writing skills, have students write letters to Mother Earth telling her how they are taking care of her. Encourage students to use specific examples from their lives and include an illustration. Bonus-this makes a great bulletin board display, too! Grab this activity for FREE at the bottom of this post.


I love watching my students' faces light up as they learn all about protecting our planet. One thing I always remind my students is that Earth Day should be celebrated every day, not just on April 22nd. With all of these lesson ideas to choose from you can easily weave Earth Day throughout your lessons all year long. Happy Earth Day!

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earth day research project ideas

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The Best Websites to Save for Upper Elementary Classrooms

website and remote learning

There is nothing more frustrating for teachers than having a weird chunk of time in the classroom and not knowing what to do with it! We have all been there, 10 minutes between Art and Lunch, 15 minutes before an assembly, and those few minutes you may be waiting for a guest teacher or classroom visitor. Without a structured activity, those minutes are wasted, or worse chaotic!

That is why I always have my favorite websites bookmarked on my computer for easy access. These websites are perfect to use to fill those awkward moments with meaningful activities. They are also perfect to use to:


  • enhance your lessons
  • have students learn at home / distance learning
  • provide independent practice opportunities for students
  • have instant engagement anytime

Whether you choose to complete activities from these sites together as a class on the smartboard, assign to students to complete independently at home, or use during whole class computer class, they are sure to engage your students!

Language Arts Websites

top websites and remote learning


Time For Kids
 I love this site to read nonfiction current event articles. You can access the articles even without a subscription. Highly engaging reading articles to share and discuss together, or have students complete independent nonfiction reader reflection activities.

SAG Read Alouds: Storyline Online
This is my go-to website, especially during downtime. There are so many fun read-aloud videoes of favorite children's picture books that keep students engaged and are read aloud by many familiar faces. Pause throughout the reading to ask comprehension questions and practice skills and strategies you are teaching. If you are using this site during distance learning times, have students watch the picture book read aloud and complete any reader response activity. Even writing just a quick summary using paper and pencil will keep their reading skills sharp!

Epic!
This site has so many popular books and student favorites broken down by age and grade. It also has different videoes, quizzes and activities to go with the books.

ReadWorks
I have used this site for years and am loving the new interface. Visit this site for fiction and nonfiction articles that you can read or print, along with reading comprehension activities. There is also a play button to have the passages be read aloud to the students.

NewsELA
Includes several nonfiction articles about current events, Social Studies topics, Science topics and now Social-Emotional Learning topics. Articles included are for students grades 2-12 and include assessments. There are both free and paid versions of this site.

Read Theory
Great site for quick reading passages with questions to practice reading comprehension.

Common Lit
This site has a wide variety of texts, paired texts, reading guides, interactive pages and so much more!

Dreamscape
Interactive and motivating reading game with easy to use teacher interface. Students are highly motivated and engaged with this site.

Grab these free writing activities and tips for parents to make writing lessons for distance or at-home learning a snap.

Have your students practice the reading strategy of visualizing as they read any passage from these sites with this FREE visualizing activity page. Perfect for classwork or to send home to keep students' skills sharp.


Math Websites

The Best Websites to Save for Upper Elementary Classrooms


IXL Math
We have used this site for so many years and I love it! Math activities are broken down by grade and skill, making it easy to assign to students. The teacher interface is easy to use.

XTRA Math
This site is all about fact practice for addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Activities are straight forward math fact practice. Perfect for quick practice, classwork or homework practice. Free and also comes in app form.

Math Playground (Thinking Blocks)
If you use the bar model to help students solve word problems, this site is for you! Colorful, interactive problem-solving tasks keep students engaged. I love having students work on these problems with a math partner to encourage math discourse.

Math Facts Pro
Math fact practice in different forms including engaging games for kids.

Splash Learn
Math activities are broken down by grade and skill and are highly engaging for students. Easy to monitor and use the teacher interface helps you to keep track of student progress.

Encourage your students to break down math word problems they are faced with from these sites with this FREE Math Word Problem Graphic Organizer. Perfect for classwork or to send home to keep students' skills sharp.


Science Websites

top ela and math websites for grades 3-5


National Geographic Kids
Games, videos, and informational articles about all things animals science. 

Mystery Science
Another of my favorite go-to websites to engage students, this site will truly enhance your curriculum and engage your students with hands-on activities and learning.

Discovery Ed
Great way to bring science into the classroom with videos, lessons, articles, and trending science topics.

Endangered Species (Animal Planet) and More Endangered Species (WWF)
Who doesn't love animals and learning about endangered species? You and your class can get lost in these sites reading about all the different animals who are sadly endangered. During the month of April, I love to read about one animal each day as students are learning about Earth Day and preparing for our animal project. Highly engaging!

DK Find Out!
Great place to go to find out answers to students' science questions, explore different topics, kick-off science units and just learn! Kids love this site.

Earth Day Videos
These Earth Day videos and song videos are great instructional tools whether you are teaching in your classroom, part of distance learning, or assigning at-home practice for your students.


Engage your students with FREE science nonfiction reading activities HERE. Perfect for classwork or to send home to keep students' skills sharp.

Multiple Subject Websites

The Best Websites to Save for Upper Elementary Classrooms


BrainPOP
No list of classroom websites is complete without BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. To gain access to all the videoes a subscription is needed, but it is worth it! I use these every day, many times a day. There are videoes to help introduce new units, reviews a skill, bring the holidays and current events into the classroom, and just have fun. There are also activities, note pages, questions, and quizzes to use with each video. The kids love them, but I may just love them even more! Don't have a subscription? Check the site each week to watch the free video of the week. Is your school out because of the Coronovirus? Grab FREE access to Brainpop HERE.

BrainPOP Jr
The K-3 version of BrainPOP. Love it!

TEDTalks Kids
Super engaging talks and presentations for students to learn about trending ideas and topics that are popular around the nation. Great to get upper elementary students critically thinking.

Freckle
This site offers a unique differentiation platform that spans all subjects, ELA, math, social studies and science. Must check out if you are looking for one site that has it all!

ABCya!
There are so many fun activities across all content areas for grades PreK to middle school that your students will love! Activities are broken down by grade, making it easy to assign or challenge students by advancing to the next grade level.

Engage your students with this FREE DIGITAL ACTIVITY that is multi-subject and ties together reading, writing, and informational text. Perfect for classwork or to send home to keep students' skills sharp.


Creative Websites


interactive websites for elementary learning


Art Hub
This is a fun interactive art website that has several different activities for kids. I love the directed drawing lessons that are included!

Complete a Puzzle
Indoor recess? No problem! Throw one of these puzzles on the smartboard and you will see instant engagement and teamwork from your students. Pick a puzzle design, pick the number of pieces for each puzzle and watch the kids work together to create it. Save and timer options make these puzzles even more fun.

Story Bird
An engaging site to encourage creative writing from students. Use prompts or pictures included to get your students writing and enjoying it!

Engage your students with a FREE creative poetry writing activity HERE. Perfect for classwork or to send home to keep students' skills sharp.


Looking for digital learning resources? 

These Google Classroom™ resources are perfect for students to complete 
independently in the classroom or remotely at home to keep their skills' sharp.


The Best Websites to Save for Upper Elementary Classrooms


This is a growing list. Be sure to pin to save this page for easy access to these websites and the new sites that are added. 



top websites remote learning and digital paperless resources










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4 Quick Tips for Using Exit Slips in the Classroom

exit slips in upper elementary and middle school classrooms

There sure was a learning curve the year I was moved from teaching third graders in a self-contained setting, to teaching math and science to different groups of fifth-graders. I had to learn how to manage older students, who switched classes and were only with me for a set amount of minutes each day. Gone were the days where I had one group of students all day long, allowing me to catch up with each child at different points throughout the day. I knew that since my time was limited with each class, I had to make the most of every moment. 

I began to implement exit slips to help me get a pulse of student understanding after the day's lessons. Not only did the use of exit slips help me to grasp student understanding, but it also provided students with the opportunity to reflect on their own understanding of the objectives taught, holding them accountable for their own learning.

Here are some helpful tips to use when implementing the exit slips in your classroom.

Teach Your Expectations

holding students accountable for learning
Teach your students how to fill out an exit slip when you teach all of your classroom expectations at the beginning of the year. Like any other strategy, you implement in your classroom, completing an exit slip must be explicitly taught. I use four levels of understanding for my exit slips. At the start of the year, we go over each level, what it means, and how students can tell what level of understanding they are at after each lesson. I have the four levels hanging up in my classroom, as well as a small sign next to the exit slip basket. On each exit slip, I expect students to write the topic or objective of the lesson, what level of understanding they are at, and to give a reason or example that proves they are at that level. Sometimes I will write a problem or pose a question and have them complete it on their exit slips. Other times they just express their understanding using their own words. Grab this "levels of understanding" printable for free at the bottom of this post.


Keep It Simple and Use Consistently

The exit slips that I use are open-ended. This is helpful for both the students and myself for many reasons:

  • Students always know how to complete the exit slips.
  • They can be used for any subject and any topic.
  • I only make copies of one type of exit slip and always have them on hand.
  • Exit slips can still be used when a substitute is in the classroom.
By using the same exit slips consistently, students understand how to complete them, improve on their reflections skills, and become accountable for their own learning.

Ditch the Names

My classroom runs on student numbers! My homework bins, cubbies, notebooks, everything is labeled with classroom numbers, so our exit slips are no different. I have students use their classroom numbers instead of names so that they feel more comfortable sharing their true understanding of the lesson on the exit slips. At the beginning of the year, we talk all about growth mindset and not comparing your own learning to others' learning. As time goes on and students feel comfortable in our classroom community, they are able to complete the exit slips with honest reflections.

Use Colored Slips

One teacher hack that I have found to be helpful for using exit slips with multiple groups of students is to color code the exit slips. With two sections of fifth-grade math and science, I use white exit slips for one group of students and use Astrobrights colored copy paper for the second group of students. This helps me quickly sort the exit slips once they are collected, review them, and adjust my lessons for the next day. Grab the exit slips that I use for free at the bottom of this post.

There are so many benefits to using exit slips in the classroom. Exit slips are not just for classrooms that switch classes, but for any classroom. They are a simple way to connect with students, have evidence of student growth, address student's individual needs, and reflect on your own teaching.  

Looking for more ideas for holding students accountable for their learning? Check these out and grab the freebies along the way!







exit slips in upper elementary classroom












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A Simple Way to Teach Students to Make Meaningful Inferences

inference activity for upper elementary

When it comes to reading strategies, making inferences is one that students must master in order to dive deep into other reading units such as understanding characters, questioning, and themesInferring is the groundwork for developing readers. It propels them forward as readers, giving them the skills that they need to dive deeper into texts and understand more challenging concepts such as symbolism and foreshadowing.

So what is an inference? An inference is a conclusion made by the reader using text evidence and background knowledge to understand the author’s intended meaning. 

Making inferences is no easy task. It requires careful reading work from the reader including collecting important text support and evidence. So how can we make sure that students are inferring, and inferring successfully, too? By taking a step by step approach, using concrete examples, teaching student monitoring and self-reflection strategies, and providing ample opportunities to practice inferring students will not only understand how to successfully infer, but will become more engaged readers, inferring on each and every page as they read.

When it is time to begin our inference unit, I always begin with this easy to implement lesson that always gets my students hooked on making inferences! All of your students, including struggling readers, will be engaged and understand the concept of inferring immediately! Follow these steps and your students will become experts in making inferences, in no time. (Grab resources for this lesson for FREE at the bottom of this post.)


Setting the Stage to Infer

I love to kick off inferring in my classroom with an introduction activity that provides a concrete visual of how to make an inference. This inferring activity is based on the book, The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg. Before a read aloud of this book, I go over two important concepts I want the students to remember, first is what I call the making an inference secret equation and second is the 3 steps of inferring that I teach my students to use as readers to help them to make an inference.

Making an Inference Secret Equation

When it comes to making an inference, I tell my students that they cannot
infer without using the secret equation. This secret equation is a visual reminder of how to infer. Using the yellow + blue = green concept, students are able to remember that in order to infer, they need to use story evidence (yellow) and background knowledge (blue) to make an inference (green).


making inferences activity for upper elementary kids

3 Steps of Inferring  

After we go over this secret formula, we go over the following simple steps that readers do when making inferences:

Ask What You Already Know: Ask yourself what you already know about what you are reading that can help you to make an inference.
     Ask "Thick" Why Questions: Ask thick questions as you read to make inferences about what is happening in the text. Ask “why” questions to help you infer. Avoid asking questions with one-word answers.
Answer The Questions You Asked: Collect story evidence to answer the questions you asked as a reader. Now infer.

A Simple Way to Teach Students to Make Meaningful Inferences

Note: This lesson is taught after I teach questioning so students are fully aware of the differences between thick and thin questioning.

Time to Get Students Hooked

Once I have gone over the secret formula and the three steps, I engage the students to infer even more before our read aloud. Here is how:

  • I take out three empty cups, a jar of water, and food coloring. 
  • I enlist the help of students to pour water into two of the cups and add a few drops of yellow dye into one cup of water to represent the story evidence we will be collecting during our read aloud. 
  • Another student will add a few drops of blue dye in the second cup of water to represent the background knowledge that will help make an inference.

One of the three cups is left empty. This cup is empty because we have not yet made our inference. By the close of the read aloud, we will combine all of the story evidence yellow water and what we already know blue water and form an inference we will have a cup of green water, and voila…an inference is made!


A Simple Way to Teach Students to Make Meaningful Inferences

Time to hook the readers with a read-aloud of the Wretched Stone

If you have not 
read the book, The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg, it is centered around a large rock that is found on a mysterious island and negatively changes the ship’s crew that brought it aboard. Spoiler alert, the stone is a TV. During the read-aloud of The Wretched Stone, we stop periodically to ask thick questions and record story clues and evidence, along with our background knowledge on a T-Chart to help us infer what the wretched stone could be.

making inferences activity for kids

The students are usually stumped about what the wretched stone could be
throughout 
the reading. Following the reading, we review all of our clues and all of our background knowledge from the chart and it becomes clear what the stone really is. I emphasize to the students that the more clues and background knowledge that we have, the easier it will be for us to infer. 

At this point, the student who correctly infers that the stone is a TV, comes up 
and combines the yellow and blue water into the empty cup, and we have a cup of green water representing the inference made by using story clues and background knowledge. 


making inferences graphic organizer

A Simple Way to Teach Students to Make Meaningful Inferences


This lesson is a great concrete visual for the students to remember what an inference is and how to make an inference, too. It also shows how making an inference truly helps you to understand the author’s theme and message. This inferring lesson is one that students never forget, making it perfect to refer back to as students continue to practice inferring throughout the year! (grab resources for this lesson for FREE at the bottom of this post.)


A Simple Way to Teach Students to Make Meaningful Inferences


Teach Students to Self Monitor

Making inferences is a tricky concept and requires many lessons and activities. Students must learn how to reflect and self monitor the inferences that they are making. As students read longer and more complex texts, students’ inferences will need to be adjusted as they collect more story clues and evidence. Using a continuum style self-monitoring chart, students can see how they are growing as readers on the path to making powerful inferences to help them understand the stories they read more deeply. I have a chart size poster of this continuum in class and students keep a copy in their reading notebooks so that it can be easily referred to all year long! This is a great tool to refer to during your reading workshop one on one student conference to help guide your discussion. 

Practice, Practice, Practice!

making inferences quotes for teachers marzanoWhen it comes to making
inferences, continual practice is a must! In my classroom, we practice making inferences in isolation with short text and inaction while independently reading. Using task cards, short texts, and picture books, students can work together to practice making inferences. Once students are able to successfully make inferences in isolation, we transition to making inferences before, during, and after we read. Graphic organizers, note sheets and sticky organizers are all ways that students can record text evidence that helped them to make inferences.

Making inferences is hard, but rewarding work. It is a skill that must be 
explicitly taught and practiced continuously.  

Being able to successfully make inferences while reading is a foundational skill that students need in order to go beyond the basic comprehension of a book.
It allows them to understand the author’s meaning, compare themes, and fully grasp complex character development. By inferring as they read, students become active readers and begin to fill in the blanks, really searching for the author’s message and information that was not directly given to them in written words.




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making inferences activities and strategies for kids


You might be interested in: Differentiating Summary Instruction


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8 Picture Books To Share During Testing Season

childrens books about testing days


No matter how old students get, they still love to gather in the reading corner and get lost in a good book listening to the soothing sound of their teacher's voice reading. Navigating testing season in the classroom can be tricky. Some schools that I have taught in get knee-deep in test prep, while others treat it as a regular school day.

Whichever way your district and school approach it, we can agree that the testing season is stressful! Even with the most laid back approach, students know the schedule is different, the atmosphere is tense, and the long hours of testing is exhausting!

These books are perfect to share anytime before, during and after testing season. Add these to your social-emotional lessons, too, as the content in each book provides discussion starters that will engage your students in meaningful discourse to help them understand their feelings. Most importantly, the characters in these books allow students to make connections, share their own thoughts, fears and feelings. They help students to learn that they are not alone in having mixed up feelings about standardized testing.

Below are my favorite tried and true testing season read-aloud picture books. Read on to find out more about each book and grab the coordinating FREE student activities at the bottom of this post.

A Little Spot of Anxiety written by Diane Alber

This book is an engaging book that talks about everything that comes with the feeling of anxiety. With specific examples of events that may cause anxiety and strategies to help children calm down, this is one to definitely read before the testing season begins. I especially love that this book sheds light on the fact that when feelings of anxiety are not addressed, they grow. Have your students try out the strategies included in this book to practice calming down and reducing their anxiety. Grab an activity to do with this book for free at the bottom of this post.


a little spot of anxiety book about testing days for children

Be You! written by Peter Reynolds

I cannot love this book anymore! All of Peter Reynolds books are colorful and uplifting, and this one is no different. This book encourages students to have self-love and reminds them to stay true to who they are. It celebrates individuality and persistence and is the perfect read to motivate and inspire students during the testing season. Have students draw a heart on construction paper and fill it up with everything that they love about themselves. This uplifting activity will have them go into the testing season feeling good about who they are! Grab an activity to do with this book for free at the bottom of this post.


be you! peter reynolds uplifting book for kids


Everybody Needs a Rock written by Byrd Baylor

This is my favorite book to share before testing begins. I cannot take credit for tieing this book into the testing season, as it was a tradition handed down to me by my grade level partners at my school. Before testing begins, each teacher in my grade level reads this book aloud to students and discusses how a rock can be a friend to them when needed. To do this all students need to do is rub their rock between their fingers. After reading this book, I invite students to select their own rock from a bucket of polished rocks that I present to them. We discuss how they can keep the rock while taking tests and hold and rub it when they are feeling stressed. My students love this and often come back years later to say how much the rock has meant to them. It is a tradition that I have loved being a part of.

everybody needs a rock picture book for testing days for children


Last to Finish (A Story About the Smartest Boy in Math Class) written by Barbara Esham

If you read this book at the beginning of the school year, revisit it during the testing season. If you haven't read it this year at all, now is the time! The story is focused around a student who panics and "freezes" during timed testing sessions, like his timed math fact quizzes. I love this book for its realness. It helps children understand how different everyone's brains work. After reading this book, take a class poll to see if students like or dislike timed settings and then discuss the results. Students love and connect with this book so easily.

last to finish picture book about testing days for children


Testing Miss Malarkey written by Judy Finchler

I love the Miss Malarkey series! This fun story follows Miss Malarkey, her students, and the entire school community as they prep for and take standardized testing. It's light nature and humor make it a fun read right before the testing begins. Teachers will especially love the humor and the illustrations on the last page! Grab an activity to do with this book for free at the bottom of this post.


8 Picture Books To Share During Testing Season


The Anti-Test Anxiety Society written by Julia Cook

I love how this book fully illustrates what anxiety looks like, feels like, and sounds like. The main character experiences much anxiety over upcoming tests, much like our students do, to the point where she literally feels sick. Her teacher helps her through it by helping her see the positive in testing situations, as well as sharing 12 tips to help her deal with her anxiety. These are great tips that students can put into action right away! Grab an activity to do with this book for free at the bottom of this post.

the anti test society childrens book about testing days


The Big Test written by Julie Danneberg

This is another one of my favorite series! I just love the teacher, Mrs. Hartwell. If you have read First Day Jitters and Last Day Blues, you know what a great classroom community Mrs. Hartwell has created in her classroom. This book teaches students the best lesson to learn when prepping for standardized testing is to relax. Grab an activity to do with this book for free at the bottom of this post.


the big test picture book about testing days for children


The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes written by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein

This book is another popular back to school read-aloud that should be revisited around testing time. This book tells the story about a girl who loves to be perfect and is afraid of making mistakes. She learns that not everything is in her control and that mistakes happen. She learned to embrace making mistakes and gave up trying to be perfect. This is such a valuable message during any testing season! Grab an activity to do with this book for free at the bottom of this post.


8 Picture Books To Share During Testing Season


When it comes to creating a calm and relaxing environment for students before, during and after testing sessions, don't overlook the power of a great read-aloud. Be sure to leave these books displayed in the classroom so students can take them, reread them, and try out all the strategies as they need them. What is your favorite book to share during the testing season? Share your favorite below in the comments section.







                        Looking for test prep motivation? Click the picture below!


ideas to motivate and create calm testing classroom environment


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picture books to help children during stressful testing days


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