Monday, March 7, 2016

"I Cans" A Test Prep Craftivity

I know what you are thinking! You are thinking that it is only a few days before “THE TEST” and you don’t have time for a test prep “craftivity”. 

Trust me, I know all too well that high stakes testing season has begun! At schools all over the country students are diligently darkening bubbles with number 2 pencils and pounding away at computer keyboards as they practice for “the big test”.

I know exactly how it feels because I have been preparing students for “THE TEST” every year of my adult life. I know the drill! We practice, give pep talks, tell the kids that testing is their day to shine, and review, then review more. As teachers we tell our students not to stress, then we lay awake wondering if we really covered angle types sufficiently or if the students really got the author’s purpose lesson we so carefully crafted. 

Last year was a game changer for me. My own daughter took “THE TEST” (I blogged about it and wrote her a letter here, about testing here). While I believe in preparation and teaching kids to do their best, I also realized we need to do MORE to encourage and uplift our students. Especially our youngest learners. 

One of the major ways I do this is by making “I Cans”. It is a can shaped mailbox, covered with “eyes” and the letter “I”. Get it? It is an ”I Can”. (See the picture below.) 

Each morning before testing the students place the “I Cans” on their desk. It is then filled with encouraging messages. The students LOVE getting messages and it really helps take the pressure of the test off!

I send a template of the “I Can” messages home for parents to fill out a few weeks before the test. I also write an “I Can” message each day, I have the principal write a daily message, and I recruit other staff members to write messages (I have each person write 1 message that I copy it for the class.) If time permits I even allow kids to write message to one another (I check all messages and usually assign a few classmates to each child so no one is left out.) I like to get as many people involved as possible (special area teachers, custodians, or any person who has a connection to the students). 

The “I Can” messages really lighten the mood. After students have finished reading the messages I take up the “I Cans” because (GULP) nothing but the test book and a #2 pencil can be on their desk. I put the cans in an area of the room where students can still see them.

A parent recently told me her child saved all his “I Can” messages from 4th grade. She said that she found the strips of paper that had filled his can for years after he was in my class and that every time he read one he smiled. After hearing that I created a template for making “I Cans” and “I Can” messages. It is free (and will always be) free in my Teachers Pay Teachers. If you have a few minutes and some card stock paper this is a “craftivity” you students will never forget! Click on the "I Cans below to download this freebie!

 Click Here For You FREE Template!


  1. This is such an awesome way to connect with students!! I love that you can involve previous teachers, special area teachers and even the principal - how special is that!! It truly takes a village! Thanks Alexis!

    1. Thanks Robin! I love doing this activity. The kids faces light up when they get the "I Can" notes! It really brightens the room the morning of the test and eases the pressure.

    2. This is a fantastic idea!!! The idea of using these " I Can" notes would sure take off some of the pressure I'm sure. Don't forget the "I Can" notes for the teachers too!

    3. Seriously, as I was writing this blog I thought, "I might just need this for myself..."

  2. Emily still remembers! She said the characters from Closlandia wrote her some really good ones. :) You're a teacher a child remembers for life! Thank you.

  3. Ditto... kids remember teachers like you who protected their self-esteem and made learning fun. :)