It’s springtime! If you’re an upper elementary teacher in Virginia, that means it’s time to start your SOL test prep. In this post, I’m sharing some of my favorite Virginia Studies SOL test review ideas.
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Virginia Studies Escape Rooms
If you’ve followed me for long, you know that I LOVE classroom escape rooms. Why? Because classroom escape rooms are a fun way to get students to use critical thinking skills as they review various topics. As an added bonus, the activities also get students up and moving within the classroom during SOL test review.
Most of my Virginia Studies escape rooms have a fun theme that involves them traveling back in time to learn about Virginia history. While time traveling, their time machine malfunctions. The only way to fix the time machine and return to the future is to complete 5-6 challenges related to Virginia Studies.
Challenges require students to do things such as:
- Assemble puzzles to find a secret code or identify important people in Virginia’s history.
- Read information and answer comprehension questions to solve a puzzle or reveal a code.
- Decode quotes and passages about famous Virginians.
- Use keys to find hidden information.
- Locate places on maps of Virginia to create secret codes.
- Match the causes and effects of important events in Virginia.
- Match people, events, and legislation to their descriptions to create secret codes.
These classroom escape rooms are one of my students’ favorite ways to review for the Virginia Studies SOL test!
You can find escape rooms in my store for all of the Virginia Studies SOLs.
Virginia History Project-Based Activities
Project-based learning is a great way to get the information to really stick during your Virginia Studies SOL test review.
There are two project-based activities that I use during my SOL test prep: a Virginia tourism campaign and a Virginia road trip.
For my Virginia tourism campaign project, students pretend they are working as Virginia tourism agents. In this role, they must develop an ad campaign, convincing others to vacation in Virginia. As part of their ad campaign, they must create a slogan, a brochure, and a commercial. All of these things must incorporate what they have learned about Virginia’s history and geography.
If this is a project you are interested in doing as part of your Virginia Studies SOL test review, I have a whole lesson dedicated to this activity and a rubric in my Virginia Regions Unit.
For my Virginia road trip project, students must plan a road trip throughout Virginia. As part of their road trip, they must select at least 10 places where they will stop. These places must incorporate what they have learned about Virginia’s history and geography.
Students plot out their road trip and create an itinerary using Google My Maps. They must include images and a description at each stop on their road trip.
Google My Maps is a great tool to use when teaching Virginia Studies. It is NOT the same as Google Maps or Google Earth. To learn more about this amazing Google App, check out the video I made with some helpful tips and tricks.
Regions of Virginia Map
Geography is a big part of the Virginia Studies SOLs. My favorite way to incorporate geography into my Virginia Studies SOL test review is by having students create 3D maps of Virginia’s regions.
Use different colors of playdough or clay to create each of the five regions. Students should also incorporate geographical features such as the rolling hills of the Piedmont region and the old, rounded mountains of the Blue Ridge Mountains region.
After the dough dries, students can also add Virginia’s rivers and water features using a marker or blue glitter glue.
If you are thinking that buying playdough for your entire class is too expensive, you are right!
I ask families to create playdough at home with inexpensive materials. I send home a letter that includes the instructions for how to make the play dough and the date the playdough is needed back at school. This is a fun activity for families to complete at home that also incorporates math skills such as measurement and fractions (which students also need to review before SOL testing).
The letter I send home and additional information about this activity are included in my Virginia Regions Unit.
Even if you used this map activity earlier in the school year, it can be fun to repeat it before the SOL test. If you want to differentiate it from what you did earlier in the year, use different materials to create the maps such as food items or paper mache.
Virginia Studies Sing-A-Long
Music is a great way to help students remember information.
Incorporate a songwriting day into your Virginia Studies SOL test review by assigning groups to write songs about the Virginia history standards. I prefer to give each group a topic such as products and industries, Virginia geography, or a specific event or person. Students can write song lyrics related to the assigned topic using their own beat or by using their lyrics with an existing melody.
Before the SOL test, allow groups to share their songs with the class. You can even pass out lyrics so that everyone can sing along.
If you want to make this review activity even more fun, have students share their songs around a campfire. Students can even make s’mores during the sing-a-long.
There are lots of fun games you can play as part of your Virginia Studies SOL test review. One of my favorite no-prep games is the fishbowl game.
For this game, write terms related to Virginia Studies on small pieces of paper. Fold the pieces of paper and place them in a bowl. Include at least 30 terms in the bowl.
Assign teams of 4-5 students.
This game is played over a series of three rounds. For each round, set a timer for 2 minutes. One student from a team will come to the front of the room, draw a piece of paper from the bowl, and do whatever they are supposed to do for the round to get their team to guess the term on the paper. The goal is to get through as many pieces of paper in the bowl during the 2 minutes. The team gets one point for each term that they can guess during that time.
- Round 1- Taboo: The student can say any words (except the term on the piece of paper) to help their team guess the term.
- Round 2- Charades: The student must act out the term.
- Round 3- Password: The student can only say one word to help their team guess the term.
Each team gets an opportunity to earn points during each round.
At the end of each round, all of the pieces of paper go back into the bowl.
Virginia Studies Task Cards
Task cards also make for easy, no-prep Virginia Studies SOL test review activities.
What I love about task cards is that they can be used in so many different ways. With a few sets of task cards, you can easily host a variety of different SOL review games. Check out this blog post or watch the video below to see some of my favorite task card games.
You can find task cards in my store for every Virginia Studies SOL.
All of my Virginia Studies SOL task cards include a PDF version and a self-checking, digital version that can be assigned in Google Forms.
I find that students better retain historical information better when they can correctly sequence events. That is why I always include timeline activities as part of my Virginia Studies SOL test prep.
I have a set of Virginia Studies Timeline Cards with events from each unit. Each card has an event and a date. I like to cut the cards in half so that the events and dates are separate. Throughout my SOL review, I use these cards for a variety of activities such as:
- matching games
- scavenger hunts
You can find all of my Virginia Studies Timeline Cards bundled in my store.
Many students automatically think “boring” when they hear test prep. But, your Virginia Studies SOL test review can be engaging without spending hours preparing your review activities.
All of the games and activities I have shared in this blog post are fun ways to prepare for the SOL test that still incorporate critical thinking and collaboration. I promise that neither you nor your students will be bored with these activities!
For more information about some of the Virginia Studies SOL-aligned activities mentioned in this blog post, check out the following links.
Have you heard about the Virginia Teacher Club?
The Virginia Teacher Club is a one-of-a-kind program for upper elementary teachers in Virginia. Members receive instant access to a curriculum library of SOL-aligned math, science, social studies, and ELA resources. There are lesson plans, games, assessments, passages, digital activities, and more for EVERY SOL. By using the Virginia Teacher Club, our members save hours of planning time every month and have access to high-quality, SOL-aligned resources that students love.
CLICK HERE to join the waitlist and be the first to know when the Virginia Teacher Club reopens for new members.