Make “IT” Stick


This time of year, we are engaging students in many activities; trying to review information, create new connections and most of all MAKE “IT” STICK.  Helping students to find wonder, graphics, student interaction, and movement all help increase student engagement and increase the ability to process information.  Using what we know about the brain helps us plan lessons to optimally produce student learning.

Two Facts about the Brain

  • Learning engages the entire body and physiology. Increasing active movement will increase engagement and neural activity.  Increase student to student interaction to increase listening and speaking while reading and writing which will boost sensory input. Engaging students in movement, gestures, games, etc. will increase their neural input and increase the brain’s ability to put the information in long term memory.
  • Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. We must challenge our students with complex text and content but remember that scaffolding them and supporting them will keep the threats limited and engagement guaranteed.  (Keep the carrot dangling in front of them)

Explicit instructions and modeling help to lay the foundation of learning. Providing students a chance to interact and talk helps to make the concepts make sense.  The use of graphics, movement and games will increase the brain’s ability to remember and retrieve the information.  Increasing the challenge or layering new ideas upon patterns of learning helps students develop connections and deepen learning so that it is processed to long term memory and becomes automatic.

10 review games to MAKE “IT” STICK.

10.  Attack

9.  Stinky Feet

Stinky foot page template for you to use.


8.  Use Board Games or Task Cards


7.  Swat It!

Here is a template:  4 x 4 Grid

6.  Review with a BALL!

5.  Showdown!

These next two games use the 4 answer multiple choice format. They are a bit structured but do not take any preparation to play.  The first game is not competitive but does give the opportunity for students to move and talk which help engagement. In addition, the teacher can formatively assess the class and individuals. The second version has a competitive spirit.

4.  Travel Time

3.  Stand Up!

2. Chair Race

1. Trashketball 

Happy Reviewing and remember—movement = engagement which will ultimately lead to “making “it” stick.”

**These activities were taken from Blogs I wrote last year and ideas from colleagues. Thanks to each of you for sharing!

3 Review Ideas to Try Next Week

Three ideas to keep your students engaged while you are reviewing. Making anything interactive will help students stay focused.  By including active movement and conversation you are increasing the students engagement and the opportunity for the information to be retained.

Happy Reviewing!!


  1. Break students into groups of 3 or 4.  Number each group.
  2. Have one person from each group go to the board and draw an object such as a castle. The castle should be labeled with the group number. Give them a 1 minute time limit. (Draw on Flipchart page or Whiteboard)
  3. Teacher will ask a question. All groups discuss and work on the question.
  4. After a given time, a group at random is picked to answer the question.
  5. If the answer is correct, they get to “attack” two castles by putting an X on it. They can only attack each castle once per turn. If the answer is incorrect, the teacher gets to “attack” their object or castle.
  6. A castle is destroyed when it has been attacked three times. (has 3 X’s)
  7. If a group’s castle or object is destroyed—they can stay in the game and continue to get answers correct and attack others but cannot win.
  8. Winner is the last standing castle.

Variations:  Students can attack any object such as a ship, turkey at Thanksgiving, pirate flag, etc.


Stinky Feet

Materials:  A chart created with a stinky foot in the center.

See Example:

stinky feet

Graphic and idea from Pinterest and above Blog Address.

Around the entire chart, place sticky notes with points such as +3, +1, etc. but also include opportunities to lose points (-1, -4, etc.) which makes it “stinky.”

sticky notes

  1. Students are put into 2 groups.  Each student is given a number.
  2. The teacher poses a question and students put their “heads together” to figure out the answer.
  3. The teacher calls a specific number to correspond to be the spokesperson on one team. The other team must be ready in case the answer is incorrect.
  4. If the student answers correctly, they choose a sticky note from the Stinky Feet Chart. This determines the number of points the team will get. If the answer is incorrect, the other team is given the opportunity to answer and choose from the Stinky Feet Chart.

The creator of this game suggests to put the sticky notes above the chart as you use them so they can reused again.

Here is a STINKY FOOT TEMPLATE (foot page)–print and add your smelly graphics and laminate. Add your sticky note points and you are ready to go!


Review using BOARD GAMES and TASK CARDS for any subject

Bring in board games that children love and know how to play such as chutes and ladders, Sorry, CandyLand, Connect Four, Operation, etc. This is just a way to engage students in question and answers or task cards by allowing them to play a familiar game.

  1.  Students are separated into groups of 4.
  2. Each group chooses a board game and is given a set of task cards with self check answers.
  3. Questions are divided equally among players and placed facing so others cannot see answers or the question.
  4. The board game is played but before a student can have their turn–they must answer a question correctly.  If they miss the question–they lose a turn.

Variation:  You can have students have options (1 each per student) if they miss a question to “Phone a Friend” which means they could go ask one person for input and given 2 minutes to find the answer. You could allow–“Ask a Friend” for help and that person could be given 2 minutes to ask for advice.




3 EOG Review “Games”


  1. Put students in a team of 2-6.
  2. Each team selects a leader.
  3. Teacher poses a question to the class. (Putting it up for the class or printed helps students use test taking skills such as key words, underlining, etc.) Teacher sets timer for work time.  (Good time to use the allotted time each student has per math problem on the EOG to get them used to the time.)
  4. Students will write down each answer on white boards or scrap paper.
  5. When timer buzzes—the teacher leader says, “Showdown.” The team will then compare and discuss answers.
  6. The team works together to determine one answer.
  7. Teacher calls “Class Showdown” and each team leader holds up the team’s answer on a white board.
  8. Points are given for correct answers.
  9. The team at the end with the most answers correct—WINS!


These next two games use the 4 answer multiple choice format. They are a bit structured but do not take any preparation to play.  The first game is not competitive but does give the opportunity for students to move and talk which help engagement. In addition, the teacher can formatively assess the class and individuals. The second version has a competitive spirit.


Version 1:  Travel Time

  1. Label or designate each corner of the room to a corresponding letter A, B, C or D.
  2. All students are shown a multiple choice question and given time to work the problem.
  3. Teacher calls TIME.
  4. Students are given 10 seconds to travel to an area of the room that corresponds with their answer choice.
  5. Teacher is able to assess the number of students who answer correctly and the most common incorrect answer.
  6. Teacher leads discussion with students on how to work the answer or have students defend their answers.
  7. Teacher can have students come to board or collaborate with one another to defend.


*If a high number of students are in more than one corner, pairing students across corners to come to a consensus is a good alteration of the game.


Version 2:  Please Stand Up 

  1. Students are put 4 groups.
  2. Each group is designated A, B, C or D
  3. Students are given a question with multiple choice answers.
  4. Students are given a determined amount of time to discuss and work the problem.
  5. Teacher says, “The correct answer please stand up.”
  6. If all students stand, they get a point.
  7. If anyone in another group stands—they lose a point.


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