Third graders are usually pretty scared about taking their first state tests, so I thought about getting my parents to write letters to my students last year. In fact, my whole team got in on the game!! We sent out a letter to the parents, explaining that the letters where to encourage their children and calm any fears. Also, they were to send the letters in a sealed envelope with their child's name on it. On the first day of testing, all the students opened their letters. I have never seen such joy on their faces! Even those students that got letters from me (their parents didn't send one). They read their letters every day before they began. It was the sweetest thing.
Since it was such a big hit last year, I am going to try it again this year. My students need some encouragement even though I know they will rise to the occasion ;) Last year I sent home pretty paper with an envelope so there would not be any excuse. I think that would be a great idea for this group too.