March 06, 2014
Testing days can cause undue stress, so I try to make my environment as comfortable as possible.
I allow my students to remove their shoes and place a small stuffed animal on their laps (if they can do so without distraction). We do deep breathing and stretching before the beginning of each section of the test, and we even do some improvisational activities to have a laugh and get the blood flowing.
There was a study a while back linking concentration to chewing gum. The kids LOVE this aspect of testing days. They are allowed to chew gum or suck on hard candy with the proviso that no gum is stuck onto the scan sheets!
To add some fun to snacks, I ask my students to bring in items that we can use to create a trail mix. I send a letter home to parents with suggested items like cereal, Goldfish crackers, small pretzels, chocolate chips, mini-cookies like Teddy Grahams, M & M’s or other small candies, etc. (We do not ask for any nuts due to allergies.) Each day, I choose 3-4 ingredients to mix together. At snack time after the day’s testing session, the kids are treated to a cupful of trail mix. Our Home and School generously provides snacks on the first and last day of testing — traditionally soft pretzels on the first day and Philadelphia Water Ice on the last (both Philly favorites!).
Of course, we remind students to get a good night’s sleep, eat a nutritious breakfast, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e!