As a teacher, it's a great feeling to watch students complete their assignments. But what happens when a student finishes early and has nothing to do? While it's tempting to tell them to "read a book," or “share the book with a classmate,” they deserve to be engaged and, above all, challenged. This is where you, as the teacher, come in. In today's blog post, we're going to look at some inspiring ideas for early finishers in the classroom that will keep them engaged beyond completion.
1. Create a choice board. A choice board is a board that offers students multiple activities to choose from when they finish early. You can create a board with a variety of activities, from academic activities to creative ones. For example, you could offer a spelling quiz, a drawing exercise, themed word searches, logic puzzles, or a writing prompt. The sky's the limit! Giving students a choice in how they work on something can empower them and lead to deeper engagement.
2. Offer extension activities. When planning lessons, you can create extension activities that go deeper into the topic. These activities are great for students who finish early as they challenge them to explore the topic further. For example, if you're teaching about the planets, a possible extension activity could ask students to research a specific planet and create a poster about it. Math projects are also a great way to apply skills learned to reallife concepts. Another example could be Math Quests, which students work on whenever they have spare time  these combine fun fictional reading simultaneously. 3. Add a challenge. For some students, completing an assignment quickly is easy. To keep them engaged, you can add a challenge. A challenge can be a timed activity or a task that requires critical thinking. For example, if you're teaching geometry, you can challenge students to create a shape using only four lines. This activity encourages students to think outside the box and develop creative solutions. 4. Provide Mystery Case Files. One idea to keep early finishers engaged is to offer them a math or reading mystery to solve. A math or reading mystery is a fun and engaging way for students to apply critical thinking skills. In math, students can solve problems that lead them to uncover a puzzle or a secret hidden solution. In reading, students can decode a written message or solve puzzles leading to the answer. Plus, there are lots of fun resources available online to download, such as Math Mysteries, Mini Math Mysteries, Once Upon a Crime Reading Mysteries, Private Eye CSI Literacy Mysteries, Junior Reading Mysteries, and Digital CSI Mystery Games. 5. Use technology. With technology being increasingly integrated into our lives, it can be a great way to engage early finishers. You can offer applications and websites that support learning, such as educational games, wordprocessing tools, or creative design applications. Being techsavvy can encourage students to get excited about learning. 6. Educational Board Games: An excellent way to keep early finishers challenged and engaged is through board games. Board games are perfect for stimulating young minds and learning different skills like critical thinking, strategy, and problemsolving. Choose a selection of educational board games that students can play by themselves or with a partner. These games can be found in libraries, thrift stores, or even created by the teacher. Examples of educational board games include Chess, Checkers, Scrabble, Settlers of Catan, and Monopoly. I also have some Adventure Math Board Games available to print and play <here>. 7. STEM Challenges: Have you ever tried STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) challenges in your classroom? These challenges are perfect for early finishers and keep them engaged while giving the opportunity to apply learning in a realworld context. For example, challenge students to build a bridge using only toothpicks and marshmallows or create a maze for a marble using cardboard. Ensure that the STEM challenges are ageappropriate and can be completed using materials readily available in the classroom. Conclusion: As a teacher, it's important to keep all students engaged throughout the lesson, which can be tricky when some students finish early. By incorporating choice boards, extension activities, challenges, mysteries, games, STEM/STEAM and technology, you can keep early finishers stimulated and challenged. These ideas also encourage creativity and independent learning, which can be invaluable skills that students carry with them throughout their lives. So, next time a student finishes their work early, you'll be ready with ideas to keep them engaged and motivated.
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AuthorA 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife. This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies. Opt Out of Cookies 
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