Do you need early finisher activities for your classroom? All teachers should have a plan for students who get done with an assignment early.
One big mistake teachers make is not to have early finisher activities at all. This leads to off-task behavior. Kids who are fast workers often become distractions to other students. Set your classroom up for success by establishing early finisher expectations from the start.
The reality of classrooms today is that you will teach students with many different ability levels. Teachers are expected to differentiate for high and low students everyday. This is not easy!
However, with a little bit of planning, you can be ready for students who speed through the curriculum.
What can early finishers do?
Here are a few ideas I like to use with middle schoolers:
- Read a book from your classroom library
- Complete homework from another class
- Work on a content-based color by number puzzle
- Help other students on a difficult part of the assignment
- Complete an ELA scavenger hunt
- Grade their own work
- Classify sort cards such as these for figurative language
- Organize their locker or desk
- Complete a digital scrambled paragraph activity
- Write questions for an upcoming quiz or test
What makes a good early finisher activity?
The best early finisher activities are self-directed, enriching, content-based, creative, and engaging. However, these activities should not be so appealing that they encourage kid to rush through their assignments.
I think these engaging screen-free activities are perfect for early finishers. They keep kids focused on content, but give them a chance to do something more hands-on.
Since these activities are screen-free, they free you from monitoring internet use as well.
What are bad early finisher activities?
If students know they can do whatever they want when they complete a task, they will rush through it carelessly. That is why video games/unstructured screen time are not good ideas.
Similarly, letting students sleep when they’re done with a task is probably not the best idea. This will create the expectation that sleeping during your class is okay. Also, it might be tempt kids to work quickly in order to get nap time.
Last but not least, bad early finisher activities are things that are distracting to you or other students. These activities need to be low-maintenance.
You should establish expectations for early finishers from day one. Consider having an anchor chart in your classroom to reinforce exactly what you want students to do when they complete an assignment.
Finally, you may want to consider gifted services for some students if finishing early is frequent. They may genuinely be bored and in need of more challenges.
What are some of your favorite early finisher activities? Let me know in the comments!
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