13 top tips to make KS2 SATs prep 2017 fun for your pupils [VIDEO]

By David Leighton 

At Third Space Learning we’ve been working 1-to-1 with over 5000 pupils with our intervention programmes, and have produced a tonne of resources to help teachers prepare for SATs, which have been downloaded by thousands of pedagogues across the UK. 

We know SATs can be quite a stressful time, with a tonne (more) of hard work and preparation coming your way it can be difficult to stay positive.

We also know teachers would rather approach SATs enthusiasm and excitement, which is why we’ve gathered 13 top tips from teachers and experts across twitter to help make the next few weeks of SATs preparation as fun as they can be!

Watch the video above for 10 of the top tips or read on to get the full 13.

1. Get outside!

Year 3 Teacher and founder of Numeracyshed, Graham Andre, says his number one tip for your pupils is to take them outside. The fresh air is so good for them, and there’s tonnes that you can do!

Examples include; taking chalk out and using it to write questions and answers on the playground, timing how many times pupils can run around the playground and making maths word problems out of that, or working on measuring and estimating by measuring the size of the playing field.

2. Maths Vidamins/SEESAW

Primary school Teacher, Cherise Duxbury, advises using online resources like GHammond’s Maths Vidamins, and also SEESAW to record pupils answers and explanations to their SATs questions.

She says it’s a great way to get pupils involved because you can share it around the school - which they find really exciting. Plus, it’s a great way to get parents to understand what their children do in school every day.

3. Deconstruct SATs questions

This tip comes from primary Teacher, Year 6 computing manager, and blogger Mr Bee Teach: he loves to deconstruct SATs questions with his class. His pupils break SATs questions down and then he teaches the skills and strategies needed to complete each one successfully. 

He also likes to create variant questions for the pupils to answer with each other, which he finds really useful.

4. Pet projects

Straight out of our Year 6 Wellbeing Guide written by mental health expert Rachel Welch (with input from the Year 6 pupils of Sheringham Primary School) comes a tip on pet projects.

In the weeks leading up to SATs, why not give each pupil a pet project that they can be getting on with. Or even start a whole class project. Design and art activities are a really good idea because they’re something that can be put down and picked up again in the gaps between SATs. 

5. Work through common errors

Miss B, a Year 6 Teacher, SPAG Leader and avid blogger says she fills out SATs papers with common errors that her pupils usually make.

She then makes the pupils work through the papers in pairs - seeing who can spot the errors first. It’s a fun way to gamify things and it also creates great discussions, with pupils saying things like ‘Miss, you forgot the full stop again!'

6. Exam downtime

Plus another from our Year 6 Wellbeing Guide: don’t forget to let your pupils blow off some steam. Give them some downtime before and after SATs, maybe even outside. Let them work off some energy - let them be loud!

Reward them for their fantastic hard work and effort they’ve put in through all those weeks in the run-up to SATs. 

7. Hit the button

Head of Year 2, John Brunskill, says one of the things he likes to do to build fluency and arithmetic is to play the classic ‘Hit the Button’ game. It’s a really good way to practise quick recall of number facts.

8. Free breakfast club

Another piece of advice from our Year 6 Wellbeing Guide is to start up a breakfast club!

A great way to put a positive spin on the SATs period is, if you don’t already run one, to start a breakfast club. Giving your pupils a decent breakfast is a great way to start the day, help ensure that pupils are relaxed, and make sure they’re ready to learn. 

So put some music on, laugh, and make some food. You can set the tone for the entire day. It’s a great way to make SATs a bit more fun, and it makes the Year 6 feel really special!

9. Suspend assemblies

The final tip from our Year 6 Wellbeing Guide is to suspend any assemblies. 

Let's face it, in the final two weeks before SATs, assemblies aren’t really going to add much more to your pupils’ learning. They’re just another thing for them to concentrate on, and they eat precious time out of the timetable. 

So just for now, suspend them. You can make a really big deal out of having a welcome back, and congratulations for all your hard work assembly!

10. Fun homework

Headteacher of Parklands Leeds Chris Dyson, says he likes to give out fun and light hearted homework tasks to his pupils, to make the SATs period as enjoyable as it can be.

Often his homework is as lighthearted as ‘build a den’, or ‘sing a song’. Why not give your pupils a list of fun homework tasks to take home?

And now here are your bonus 3 (okay 5 really) tips - not in the video...

 

11. Motivation, motivation, motivation!

Primary Teacher, DHT & NUT rep, and blogger PrimaryY6Teach suggests that to spruce up revision have children devise questions in groups to pose to other groups in the class. 

He also recommends getting them to hold their SATs paper and chant ‘you will not defeat me, you will not defeat me!’.

Finally, he says he always makes his pupils do breathing exercise just before tests, it gets the oxygen into their brain and relaxes them. It’s as simple as take a deep breath, count to 3, slowly release. 

12. Interleaved practice

Year 5 teacher and head of science Niomi Roberts says she likes to use interleaved practise with her pupils. She teaches an area of learning, then quizzes or tests them three weeks later.

Then she can check if they’ve retained knowledge all while moving onto another topic.

She really likes this because it makes pupils work hard to remember and recall information. It’s simple but genuinely effective.

She also uses mini exam questions as bell tasks, so my pupils become familiar with a range of SATs-style questions.

13. Gaz Needle’s top 3

Finally, to summarise, founder of Primary Rocks and Primary Headteacher Gaz Needle suggested these three key things to bear in mind during your SATs preparation in 2017:

Reward and enthuse

Do something off topic in SATs afternoon so your class can relax. Don’t cram in the afternoon.  Try cricket, PE, art or any ‘fun’ activities to keep the mood light and to remind your class that school can be fun. Also, give your class a flapjack and some juice in the morning during SATs week when they come in so to relax them.

Positive praise

Repeatedly tell your class to just do their best and remind them that they have nothing to worry about at all.

Targeted revision

In the 4 day week before SATS (which is always a bank holiday Monday week) just revise the topics that your class have found the trickiest to remember, don’t overwhelm them with work. It’s always better to target your revision.

So, let’s not forget to get out there and help pupils smash their SATs. National Assessments should not be something to be afraid of, they’re simply a chance to show off all the amazing hard work you and your pupils have done this year. Let’s make SATs 2017 amazing!

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