This post originally appeared on the blog The Musings of a History Gal. 

It’s a fact: tests raise stress levels. As a result, the most stressful time of year for many high school students revolves around midterm and final exams. A few years ago (Ahem, it’s not polite to ask how many!), I wanted a fun way to alleviate some of my students’ stress by helping them prepare for their midterm exam. I created a game I call 1-2-3 Draw! It’s a variation on drawing games you may have played when you were younger and it works for all subjects – not just history!

What you need for the game:
– vocabulary words or identifications typed or written on cards (you can either include a definition or not)– a timer (egg timer, stop watch, phone, old school clock, etc.)
– markers, dry erase markers, chalk, etc. for the students to use when it is their turn to draw
– a place for students to draw a picture so that their classmates can see it (chalkboard, whiteboard, butcher paper taped to the wall, an easel and paper, etc.)

The game:
– Divide your class into two teams.
– Teams will rotate turns.
– When it is their turn, teams will send a person up to draw. (I like to have every student take a turn drawing, BUT if I have a student who really doesn’t want to participate, I let them be the timekeeper or the scorekeeper).
– The student drawing randomly picks a card with the vocabulary term or identification and has ONE MINUTE to get his or her team members to call out the term or identification based only on the clues that he/she has drawn. A drawing caveat: students cannot draw letters or numbers.
– If the teams calls out the correct term, they get a point. If time runs out before they guess correctly, the other team has an opportunity to steal the point. They get one chance to give an answer.
– The game continues until all the cards have been drawn. (You can also let your students keep playing until the allotted time runs out. The more the students encounter the terms, the more likely they are to remember them for the test).
– Rent a Hero: Once teams have points, the student drawing can “rent a hero” and pay 1 point for someone on his/her team to help them brainstorm about what to draw. The hero and the student drawer get 30 seconds of secretive brainstorming before the student begins to draw. The hero may not participate in calling out answers for the team. If the team guesses correctly, they get 2 points instead of 1.

– All Play (AP) cards:  Make a few of the more complex terms or the terms harder to draw All Play cards by adding AP to the corner of the card. When an All Play card is drawn, both teams send up a person to draw. The first team to call out the correct term, gets the point and gets to go again.

There is no right or wrong way to play this game. Be creative and add different elements. The important part is that students are actively engaging in content that they need to know for their exam. It is a game that my students love and one that I use to prepare students for unit tests, midterms, and finals. I’d love to know how you used the game in your class! Play the game with your students and then come back and leave me comment!

Jump over to Tools for Teaching Teens to watch a video explanation of the game.

Here are some games from my store that are already made for you!

Fun U.S. History exam review game by History Gal A fun review game for World History by History Gal A fun game that helps students review Ancient Greece by History Gal

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5 YouTube channels for Social Studies teachers by History Gal            Why Your Students Should be Coloring by History Gal           Great ideas for using gummy bears in social studies by History Gal

History GalAndrea is proud to call herself a history nerd and is passionate about sharing her love of history with students. See how she engages students in U.S. History, World History, Civics, and Geography by visiting her store or following her on Facebook and Instagram or visit her blog, Musings of a History Gal. Andrea is also part of several collaborative groups aimed at making teachers’ lives a little easier – the Tools for Teaching Teens video blog offers great tips for middle and high school teachers of all subjects and the Spiral Studies team offers print and go integrated Social Studies, ELA, Math, and Science lessons.