5 Effective Small Group Activities for 5th Grade Science STAAR Review

A small group of students complete activities to review for the 5th grade science STAAR test.

Sometimes trying to find effective ways to review for the 5th grade Science STAAR can feel impossible. You want the activities to be rigorous but have to be careful not to lose your students’ attention. If your students lose interest then the review is not going to get you the results that you need. Let me share some of my favorite small group activities for 5th grade Science STAAR review.

Vocabulary activities have big benefits for 5th Grade Science STAAR review

Science vocabulary seems to be an issue every year. You can address this issue by including small group activities that focus on building content vocabulary. This will help build your students’ confidence around understanding the complex questions on the Science STAAR.

I really love using vocabulary puzzles to build student confidence around science content vocabulary. I made my first set of vocabulary puzzles when a big chunk of my students failed a unit assessment because they got the words reflected and refracted mixed up. And let’s be honest, they are easy words to mix up. So are rotation and revolution. Likewise, compaction and cementation cause a lot of problems. Vocabulary puzzles made such a huge difference for my students (and my husband’s… he teaches 5th grade science now). Using vocabulary puzzles in your class is easy and keeps students actively engaged in their learning.

Small group of students reviewing for the science STAAR with a set of vocabulary puzzles.
Physical properties of matter vocabulary puzzles with a quiz.

Tap into the popularity of Escape Rooms

Using escape rooms in the classroom is HUGE right now. And with good reason! Not only are they fun, but they also lend a sense of suspense. So students will stay engaged and on task.

I like to keep prep for review activities as low as possible. So, I created a series of science review escape rooms that have components that can be prepped once and then reused with any of the escape rooms in the series. And if time is really tight, the digital version takes zero time to set up.

Students work in small groups to answer STAAR-formatted questions. Then they use their answers to piece together a code. And if their code is correct, they will receive part of a secret message. If they get the codes correct at all four stations, they will have the complete secret message to escape the room. These escape rooms are perfect for preparing for the 5th grade Science STAAR.

A science escape room station to review for the 5th grade science STAAR.

Make mini lab stations for small groups to rotate through

Getting to do science labs is a major perk of going to science class when you’re in school. Students get so excited when they see that a lab is on the agenda for the day. So why not take advantage of that excitement by including labs in the test prep process? No need to reinvent the wheel. You can absolutely reuse the same labs you did during the original lessons. In fact, that probably makes it even better because kids already know what to expect and can focus on building a deeper understanding of the concepts.

Using Concept Sorts during 5th Grade Science STAAR Review

Concept Sorting activities are probably one of my most used tools for review. They work great for formative assessments during teaching and give great data for unit assessments, as well. Letting students work on concept sorts in small groups benefits all students. Those that are struggling can gain insight from their peers. And the students that already grasp the concept will gain a deeper understanding when they explain the concept to others. This makes sorting science concept sorts a fantastic choice for Science STAAR review.

There are a few ways to use sorts with small groups:

  • Use them to FORM your small groups. Give each students a sorting card and have them find the students with related cards to team up with.
  • Rotating stations. Set up stations around the room, each with a different sorting activity. Set a timer for students to work to complete the activity and discuss the results. When the timer goes off, groups move to a new station.
  • Anchor chart starters. Provide each group with a copy a concept sort. Each small group works on a different concept and create an anchor chart.
Science sorting activity for reflection and refraction. Included in a bundle of 5th grade science sorting activities.

Let each small group design a 5th Grade Science STAAR review to present to the class

Did you grow up playing school with your friends? I did. And most likely, many of your students do as well. Designing a review to present to the class will be a big hit, I promise. You can be really flexible with this and simply provide each group with a topic and a few requirements for the review. Or you can be really specific and give groups a rubric to make sure that they are being thorough with information and that they are divvying up the work fairly. Use whichever method works best for your classroom.

Do you have any tried and true strategies that you use for 5th grade Science STAAR review with small groups? I’d love to hear about them. Shoot me an email at twoteachingtaylors@hotmail.com and let’s chat.

Let’s do SCIENCE!

Signing off Tammy

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More ideas and strategies for teaching science:

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Fun Ideas for Teaching Electricity and Circuits
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Featured Resources

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