Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dealing with Test Anxiety

I grew up in Texas and remember taking standardized tests as far back as third grade. I was always a good test taker, and I didn’t really give it much thought.

About ten years ago I got my first job teaching third grade in Florida. I worked at a charter school, and I remember handing out a practice test early in the school year. I’ll never forget watching little girl put her head down her desk and just bawl as soon as I put the test on her desk.

This little girl knew about the mandatory retention in third grade. We hadn’t event talked about the test as a class yet, but the pressure from home was more than she could take. It was heart breaking.
I realized pretty quickly that I had to address the test anxiety. I’ve come up with an activity that I use with my kids each year.


I start by telling my kids that worry takes up room in their head. We talk about what it means to worry. I provide each student with a sheet of construction paper. They write on the paper any and all worries they may have about the test.

To get rid of these worries, we rip up the worry paper and turn it into the confetti. The confetti is bagged and put aside for later.

I tell my students that the confetti will be used for a confetti party after the test. For the party, I use tape to block off a square on the floor. The class sits around the edge of the square. I call a few students at a time to throw around the confetti in the square. Those on the edge have the job of putting any confetti that falls outside the designated area back in the square.

Last year we surprised the principal. We invited her to come in on the last day of school. She sat in the middle of the circle and we threw confetti at her. She loved it! (She also requested that this year I get a picture of that to share. She is a good sport!)


Tuesday morning I was late to school. My son was fighting his breathing treatment and I had to drop my daughter off at day care. On the way in we listened to a Dora CD from the library. Next thing I knew the song “Three Little Birds” came on. It was just what I needed to hear! I decided to play the song for my class as they wrote their worries later that day. It was a big hit!

Third grade is the first year for my kiddos to take the big state test. I’ve found this activity as a quick way to address their concerns and to celebrate their successes at the end of the year.

 I'm linking up with Joanne. Go check it out!


  1. That is the sweetest idea! Thank you so much for sharing- I'm gonna spread the word about this great idea to my colleagues!

    Learning With Mrs. Leeby

  2. What an amazing idea!! So so sweet and I am sure my kids will love it too!! Thank you so much for posting!

    The Army Wife Teacher

  3. This is a great idea for test worries - or really any negative thoughts, "I can't" kids are holding on to. I would have to put a plastic sheet down on our carpet or our custodian would not be happy!
    Thanks for the great idea.

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  4. That's an awesome idea! It really recognizes their worries and gives them something constructive to do with them. Thanks for sharing!

    Smiles and Sunshine

  5. Seriously??!! I totally love this ideas! Brilliant! Thanks for sharing and coming to my party!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  6. Love this idea, will do on Monday. Our testing starts Tuesday. :/

  7. This is such a cute idea! We already took the first part of our state tests in March and we will test again in just a few weeks. I will definitely use this next year before we begin though!
    Thanks for the idea!
    Your newest follower,