Thursday, September 5, 2013

Teacher Tips - Early Finishers

Imagine this teacher nightmare:

The school day was off to an okay start, and students are at the end of a lesson. Suddenly, you hear a knock at the door. While you talk with the visitors at the door (the school superintendent and principal), the students start talking and yelling, some are throwing paper wads, and 4 students get out of their seats unnecessarily. Of course, you feel embarrassed and humiliated as you try to regain control of your class, and the principal and superintendent do not look pleased. Afterward, when you talk to the class and ask why they had behaved this way, their answer is:

"We didn't have anything to do!"

I always told my class to never say they have nothing to do, because there was always something to do in my classroom! Here's how to turn your nightmare into a "Dream Situation" by prior planning and engaging your students in appropriate activities! I taught all subjects in 4th Grade, and the following are some of the activities I used for Early Finishers. Activities may need to be varied according to the age of your students and subject matter.

Work Folder

At the beginning of school, I bought several pocket folders with prongs per student (in different colors) and used 1 of these folders for the "Work Folder". This Work Folder was used when classwork was completed. My class's Work Folder contained:
  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Manuscript and/or Cursive Writing Sheets and an alphabet of each
  • Math Facts - Multiplication Facts and/or Division, Addition, Subtraction
  • Math Sheets that contain names of geometric shapes, measurement equivalents  etc. 
  • Appropriate Word Search Sheets

Class Chapter Book

I had a class library with high interest chapter books, many of which I had gotten free through donations and book clubs. Every student was required to "check out" a chapter book and keep it at their desk at all times until they had read the book and written a brief Book Report.

Blank Book Report Forms were located in the Book Report Folder.  Completed Book Report Forms were read by another student, initialed and dated, and filed by student name. The student could then check out another book.

Mountain Language and Mountain Math
Mountain Language, Math, and Science are supplemental bulletin board kits that review concepts throughout the year. I had the worksheets laminated, hole-punched, and put in pocket folders with student number on the outside. We then stapled 20 sheets of loose leaf paper together and placed it in the front pocket for recording answers. 


  • Spelling - Practice writing new words, sentences, make a Word Search Puzzle (1 cm or 1.2 inch grid paper), etc.
  • Reading - Practice story, Academic Vocabulary, etc.
  • Write a story (List a Topic of the Day.)
  • Journal Writing (Each had a Marble Tablet Journal.)
  • Social Studies - Map Skills
  • Etc., Etc.
I hope these tips are helpful! 

Sweet dreams!

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