Science STAAR Review: Why I Love Using Puzzles

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One of the biggest indicators of student performance on the Science STAAR is their mastery of science vocabulary. When students struggle to understand content-specific vocabulary words, they also tend to struggle on assessments. Understanding vocabulary is so much more than making flashcards or studying the terms in a textbook. I love using science vocabulary puzzles for STAAR review to help students master science vocabulary!

Why Vocabulary Puzzles Work for Science STAAR Review

close up of science vocabulary puzzles showing different pieces

To review content-specific vocabulary (like reflection/refraction or rotation/revolution) before a test, give your students puzzles that fit together and include the following elements. 

  • Vocabulary term
  • Definition
  • Illustration
  • Examples or facts

These are the same elements that you’ll want to use no matter how you assign or practice vocabulary. Of course, you’ll include the word, but you’ll also want to have facts that build background for the student. In addition, an illustration helps visual learners picture the word. Finally, the definition helps students know the meaning.

Unlike note sheets, using science vocabulary puzzles for test prep helps your readers literally fit together each of these pieces. Instead of simply flipping flashcards, they practice by finding the pieces that match and then study the completed puzzle for each word.

Using Partner Match to Complete Science Vocabulary Puzzles

Two students working on science vocabulary puzzles for Science STAAR review

A unique way to use science vocabulary puzzles for STAAR review is with partner (or group) matching. Give each student a piece of the vocabulary puzzle. Students then move around the room until they find the other three students that “fit” with their puzzle.

It’s not just about putting the pieces together, however. Students are having conversations about the words, definitions, illustrations, and examples to see how they fit.

As an added bonus, students are up and moving! Giving students the opportunity to be out of their seats and moving around is a great motivator for engagement. Students will be more focused on the review and you will have fewer behavior management issues.

Try using science vocabulary puzzles for test prep in your classroom to improve comprehension and test scores!

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