Front page > Power Tools > Take 5 > Early Finishers Ideas


Thanks to everyone who wrote in about their ideas for those "I'm Done" students! I've compiled them (and tried to include credit where due).

[Give students] a mini-unit to design lessons to "teach the
class with". They should research ideas on the computer, make handouts, come up with hands-on activities, etc. Once you've approved their "unit", let them teach the class. -MWF

I teach sixth grade and my team requires students to bring a novel to every class and when they finish their assignment(s) they are to read silently. This works really well because it is not very distracting and it is meaningful. -Marlene
I have decided to create learning centers with challenging extension activities to what is being learned. Students will be instructed to thoroughly review their assignment before handing it in and then report to the learning center. I have decided to grade the learning center activities but as an extra grade for that marking period. I will also have all students access the learning centers from time to time so that extra grades can be learned by each. The other alternative to kids sitting around waiting for others to finish is that each student is required to always have a novel to read in class at all times. If they should forget, there is always the classroom library to choose from. Hope this helps. -MissDee11
I have five folders labeled "Extra Activities" #1-5. In each one, there is a different worksheet. However, they are all fun sheets, like logic puzzles, brain teasers, etc. I change the activities weekly. When finished, they may get an activity sheet. As they finish the sheets, they give them to me. If they got the puzzle correct, they get a sticker on their special sheet. When they receive five stickers, they get a treat. (Usually a no homework pass, 10 min. free time, etc.) These puzzles are not easy, and require thinking skills, so they don't always get passes. They are not allowed to do these sheets at home, either. The kids love it, and it keeps them quiet, busy, and learning, while waiting for the others. -Dawn
When my grade 6's are finished, they generally have a few choices. I try to keep a running list on the black board of other assignments that are due in the coming weeks that they don't have class time to work on. E.g. most of their spelling is done at home, book reports, etc. If they choose not to do that, I have purchased a lot of educational games that I have introduced to the kids. They are free to pick one of those games to play with a partner. All of the games are really fun, but also help reinforce facts we have reviewed in class. The other things I have them do is roll money from our Ice Cream sales. -Kerry
I keep a running "to do" list of things to finish so that the students always know what to work on next. Before we begin any seat work we go over the list and decide on the priority for each (for example, since spelling is due tomorrow, that's the first thing they should work on when their math is done. When spelling is done, finish the art assignment or read another chapter of their novel.) There are several benefits to this routine: no one ever has to waste time coming to me to ask "what can I do now" and this gives me more uninterrupted time to work with students one-on-one, I don't have to assign them work just to keep them busy, students can always see at a glance what they need to do, and they learn responsibility and time management. If a student is ever done everything on the list, I ask him/her to bring me one of their notebooks and we go over their work together, or I give them something necessary to do on the computer, such as make a worksheet for his classmates based on a rough copy I've already created. I also often ask the early finishers to work one-on-one with a weaker student to review a math concept, listen to oral reading, etc. The "to do" list on the board is invaluable at the end of the day when we review what the night's homework is and what is due the next day. -Diane Clark

Hi! I just started making little "centers" for my students who finish early. I did a scavenger hunt for the phone book (i.e.: your mother needs to fill a prescription and it is 10:00 PM, where will she be able to go? ) They must write the name, address, phone, etc. for an appropriate place found in our local phone book. I also did some "story starter" cards with little pictures and the first sentence or 2 of a story that they must finish. I also send my kids off to "free reading" if they are done early. Hope this helps. I'd be interested in any other ideas you get! I am sure I don't have enough! -Donalee
My girls loved to read 17 magazine, 7th and 8th graders, and TEEN magazine and the boys loved SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. They could write extra credit reports from the magazines. Maybe the DISNEY magazine and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOR KIDS would be better. I used to go to garage sales and pick up my magazines. TIME AND NEWSWEEK now have kid versions. I love to use the cassette recorder when I teach. Kids could use it to talk their first drafts into it ,pairs or even groups could work with the recorder. Of course they would have to use the earphones and/or whisper into it. I love to use electronic gadgets when I teach. I have portable microscopes which I bought at RADIO SHACK for $15 each, electronic dictionaries- $ 65 at BESTBUY, a stethoscope from my wife's nursing bag etc. You get the idea. This system requires a lot of patience but the kids will want to earn time using these devices. I even brought my sons GAMEGEAR- AND GAMEBOY or whatever they call that other game device. They can write reports on the games they are playing etc. -Joe
As a reading teacher I would strongly suggest having them read - if at all possible AR books would be great, as they are responsible for interpreting the content. But, nearly any reading that they do would be of value. -John