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How I Do It: Engage Early Finishers

Creative ways to keep kids engaged when they finish work early.

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Book Critics
I have a bin with short stories in different genres. Students can read one of those and write a review, which I later post on a bulletin board. They are getting exposure to more genres and there is something to show for their work.
—Rachel J.

Don’t Stop the Music
When my kindergartners were doing things they could finish early, I’d turn on music and tell them
they had to be finished by the end of a certain number of songs. As they finished, they could stand up behind their seats and dance. You would think this would be distracting but it wasn’t. The other children worked harder to get finished so they could dance, too.
—Ariel E.

Go for Extension
I have them work on an ongoing class research project or a PowerPoint of a topic of personal interest. The last thing they need is review—extend them!
—Karey L.

Dig Deeper
I extend learning by taking what we are studying and adding on. If we are writing, I give them a writing challenge. If we are reading, I have them read the next story or help a friend. If we are doing math, I give them some harder problems to challenge them. They’re never “done.”
—Christina V.

Fill in the Blank
I have a spot on my board that says “I can _______ when I’m done.” Their choices are reading, folder activity, math manipulative, journal, and free draw. I usually have two or three of the choices on the board at a time.
—Kay B.

Happy Bookworms
Read! I teach my students to always keep a good-fit book in their desks.
—Bethany R.

Grab Bag
I have a fast-finisher basket to pick from. From flash cards to puzzles to reading on a Kindle, my kids know what to do!
—Jennifer R.

Work on Your Core
Collaboration and discussion skills are big items with Common Core, so once I see a student is finished, I have them help someone else.
—Jennifer N.

Decoration Committee
They pick from a list of verbs, then use art supplies or WordArt from Microsoft Office to print the word and a visual to go with it. Afterward, we hang it on the wall. It keeps them creative and hands-on while making our room prettier.
—Libby W.

 

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