Category Archives for "Review Games"

The tiny review activity

This review activity is super popular with my classes. So I thought I would share it here. It is so simple and fun that you can implement it with very little preparation at all!


Here’s how I came up with the idea:

A while ago I joked to a colleague that my year 11s knowledge of Animal Farm was just about enough to fill a stamp. I was joking, of course. However, this conversation did remind me of a good friend from my university days. Pete was (and is) an artist.  He found great delight in being quirky and gauche and his best expression of this was the teeny-tiny notes left under my door, which needed a magnifying glass to be read.

Mini message


The Tiny Review

I love using the tiny class review with my classes. Essentially, it has two review strategies rolled into one – summarising and questioning. The basic idea is that students summarise their learning onto a postcard… and then another student in the class has to respond in some way!

Tiny review activity

Here’s how it works

  1. First: I ask students to summarise their learning (on whichever topic I need to cover) onto a postcard (usually a sheet of paper cut into 4!).
  2. I collect these up. The second bit will depend on whether you have 2 classes studying the same topic.
  3. To use with the same class: muddle them up and redistribute.
  4. Then ask students to read the postcard they have been given, then form 2 – 3 questions on the summary to challenge or extend the ideas presented.
  5. They write these on the back of the postcard. You can muddle them up with this Q & A going for as long as you have paper.
  6. To use with a different class: complete the postcard summary task with both classes (it doesn’t have to be exactly the same day – as long as both classes have covered the subject areas) collect them in. At a relevant point, hand one set out to the other class and have them read and write questions as above.

Tiny review

What are the benefits of this activity?

It’s the perfect activity for an end of the day lesson when writing what feels like an essay in books can be quite a challenge. You can use any postcards at all of course. Most of the time, I just use scrap paper that I’ve torn up into 4.

One unexpected benefit of this review activity was the competitive nature of my classes, when we started off writing these postcards, they just wrote them. Then after a while, we started seeing who could write 30 words on a card, then 40, then 50. In time, my students became ‘tiny writers’ (just like my friend Pete) and were squeezing up to 100 words squashed onto one postcard. Just imagine my delight!

Competition and more

Added to that, the competition aspect increased when I started using this as an inter-class challenge. My students all knew each other and although they didn’t sign their postcards, they got a kick out writing exceptionally hard questions for their peers in the other class. This upped-the-ante for each class during each session we used this idea. It became crazy after a while. A couple of years ago, we got so into this activity that we even made an inter-class postbox!

Drop me a comment below if you try these ideas out and let me know how they went!

If you are looking for other fun and engaging activities to use in your ELA classroom, why not check out these blog posts:

The Perfect Review Game

One Amazing Debate Idea

Also, each week I send an email out to my teacher-friends, in this message, I include one classroom activity (like the perfect review game) and one literature activity (like this blackout writing activity). These tasks are fun, engaging, and will create brilliant learning moments for your students. If you would like to receive this weekly email (I send it on a Sunday morning – ready to help stave off those Sunday scaries), then all you need to do is fill out the email sign up below!

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Hidden Content

The Perfect Review Game for High School

This review game is perfect to help your students demonstrate their learning for any literature text. You can use it while reading a text or after reading to have your students prove their learning.

In this blog post, I’ll show you:

  1. The basic idea
  2. The extra challenge
  3. What it looks like
  4. How to set up the game
  5. Why it’s not as complicated as it sounds!

Card game image with text "the perfect review game for high schoolers"

The basic idea

The basic idea is that students build a card tower. The catch is that each card on their card tower has to demonstrate their knowledge of the ideas, characters, and the plot of a text.

The extra challenge!

It would be too simple to build a card tower with just information on it. Nope – that’s not enough for us. Here’s what the key to the challenge is: Each card has a sticky note with information on it. But each sticky note has to link to every other sticky that it touches in the tower.

Let me show you what I mean

In the image below, each card in lower zigzag pattern touches. The cards that touch either at the top of the V or at the bottom of the V have to have information on that connects.

So the sticky that we can see on the lower level states “Macbeth does not experience guilt”. This means that the card propped up against it must link to that idea. Perhaps with a quotation that proves this, or a reference to an event that links to this idea.

Even more challenging – the cards that make the horizontal support across the lower level also have to contain facts and information that link the ideas on the cards!

Card Tower with sticky notes on each card. Each sticky note has a different sentence on it.

The overwhelming benefit of this game is that students have to think and think hard about all the ideas they wish to demonstrate before they try and construct their card tower. The tower itself becomes secondary to their knowledge and learning.

How to set up this review game

  1. So for this activity, you will need some packs of playing cards (although other cards will do) and sticky notes (mini ones if possible).
  2. I place students in groups of 3 – 4 and then I give each group about 8 – 12 playing cards.

As this is a literature review game. So your students will need to know about your text. It is essentially a 3D game of dominoes. Here are the instructions I give to my students:

  1. Your job is to make the tallest card tower, but you must follow these rules or you will be disqualified.
  2. Rule 1: each card must have a sticky note on showing information from the text.
  3. Rule 2: you must show information in the following order – plot, character, theme, then back to plot again. So each sticky note will have information on something from the plot, a character, or a theme in a series, in that order.
  4. Rule 3: each sticky note must relate to the ones on either of side.
  5. Rule 4: the tower must stand with no support for 2 minutes.

It sounds more complicated than it is

The first time I use this review game, students get all caught up with what is and isn’t allowed. So I give them this example. Here’s is what a sticky notes series might look like from Macbeth Act 1, Sc 1:

Plot – Macbeth fights bravely against rebels trying to overthrow King Duncan –
which links to – Character – Macbeth is shown to be bloodthirsty and violent from the outset – which links to – Theme – The theme of rebellion is introduced as Macbeth is given the rebel’s thaneship – which links to…plot! But this time because the theme is rebellion – you could include anything from the plot on rebellion!

Image of card tower with text "perfect review game for high school"












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