Getting Crafty with Secondary Smorgasbord

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I, myself, am in need of some fresh ideas as I am in the midst of "testing season" as I like to call it.  

Our new state testing began yesterday, April 13, and is scheduled to end on May 22 (with make-ups).  That's 6 weeks of odd schedules, long hours in "holding" until all tests are complete, sharing classrooms, and middle school kids with testing fever.

My remedy?

Well, I thought about going all Charlotte Gilman and becoming part of the wallpaper but then the wallpaper got me thinking... I could just be a bit more crafty...

We are meant to use these consumable test prep books made especially for our new state tests.  I cannot imagine using these for 130 minutes straight while the other grade level tests so my plan is to read a story, answer the questions, go over the questions and then make a related craft.  After all, this is the one thing we never get to do in middle school anymore so this is my chance!

The first story in the book is from Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Balloon.  So we are going to make hot air balloon pictures! 

I found this great template for hot air balloons for free!


I will ask students to write the adventurous things they want to do or places they want to go in the sections on the balloon and then I am going to get out my water colors and we are going to paint while I play classical music.

I used to do a painting project like this years ago with middle schoolers and it was the most relaxing, therapeutic, and dare I say cathartic experience ever.  I hope I can re-create it!  Or maybe I'll just replicate it if this goes well!  :)

After making the hot air balloons, we will make text structure collages in teams/groups.  Each team will find pictures to represent the 5 common text structures.  We'll present them and tie them in with our prep books. 

Yes, I think crafts will help us prepare us for our tests without numbing our minds!  

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I want to be in your class! That sounds like so much fun....Pausing to make learning relaxing and creative should be what it's all about, rather than endless test-prep!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and I'm really enjoying getting to tap into the creative crafty side!

  2. Who says test prep needs to be mind-numbing? I LOVE this idea and I'm certain your students do, as well! Fun times!

  3. Oh, how I loved reading the Yellow Wallpaper! And yes, 6 weeks would make anyone crazy! Great ideas for using the time more creatively!

    1. Thanks, Michele! The Yellow Wallpaper is one of those stories that you never forget!

  4. This is such a great idea! It'll make the test prep much more enjoyable for you and your students!

  5. Lisa,

    Crafts and analyzing literature are an awesome match. While working on the art aspect, students don't even realize that they are developing their critical thinking skills and writing. Great idea!


  6. I LOVE this idea, and I know your students will, too! :)

  7. Lisa, I love your idea! Imagine how much buy-in your students will have, knowing that something fun and creative is in store for them, rather than dry test prep! And you are tapping into their creativity, which we rarely get to do anymore.
    Your kids are lucky to have you.


Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope to hear from you and will reply via e-mail. :)