7 Early Finisher Activities For 3rd-Grade That Teachers Love

If you’re still trying to figure out what to do with students who finish work early, this post includes helpful ideas that you can use as early finisher activities for 3rd grade students.

While in a perfect classroom, students would automatically begin a new task without prompting from the teacher, the reality is that students will most likely need guidance in knowing what to do next.

Setting clear expectations for third graders when it comes to accessing and completing early finisher activities is key. 

It flows along with your overall classroom management system. 

To jumpstart the process of you implementing early finisher activities for 3rd graders, I’ve compiled some of my favorite elementary early finisher activities. 

They may be adapted to use in math, literacy, science, or social studies. 

Early Finisher Activities For 3rd Grade

1. Create a Word Search Puzzle.

While your third graders have surely completed their fair share of word search puzzles, most have probably never created one. 

This fun fast-finisher activity reviews important vocabulary, boosts cognitive thinking, improves spelling, and strengthens problem-solving skills. 

To get started, have students choose a group of vocabulary words based on a unit from math,  reading, spelling, science, or social studies. 

Provide students with a word search template, and ask them to write the selected words in the word bank section of the worksheet.  

Next, they will place the terms on the template either diagonally, horizontally, or vertically, filling in the left-over empty spaces with random letters.

Once that’s done, students will exchange their puzzles with a classmate and solve them. 

Keep a stash of student-made word search puzzles in a center so that your third graders may access them when needed as early finisher activities. 

2. Experiment With STEM Activities. 

There are so many benefits for students to study science, technology, engineering, and math concepts such as the enhancement of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

While the normal school day has a set curriculum that includes a variety of subject areas, you can incorporate more STEM experiments into your lesson plans by making them fast-finisher activities. 

With a bit of preparation, you can have engaging third-grade STEM projects set up for students to explore when they finish their work early. 

3. Complete a Choice Board Activity. 

Offering students choices yields more buy-in from them and motivates them to engage fully with the chosen task.

While preparing many early finisher activities for 3rd graders can take some time to do, an easy way to offer lots of options with minimal prep time is to provide choice boards.

A choice board includes a menu of learning activities that students complete based on their interests and/or academic needs. 

See choice board early finisher ideas.

4. Sharpen Cursive Handwriting Skills.

Third grade is usually the time when students learn cursive handwriting. 

Even if your school doesn’t require the teaching of this skill, it still makes a useful and engaging early finisher activity for third graders. 

Not only does handwriting practice improve fine motor skills, but it gives students an opportunity to review spelling and letter patterns. 

5. Respond to Writing Prompts. 

If you are interested in simple early finisher activities for 3rd grade that yield strong results, utilizing writing prompts is an excellent choice. 

The use of writing prompts strengthens grammar skills, writing fluency, plus creativity, and also allows students to express their ideas. 

What’s more, consistent use of high-interest writing prompts nurtures a love of literacy. 

So assign third-grade writing prompts as early finisher activities.

Ask students to record their responses in their writer’s notebooks or on a provided writing prompt template.

6. Practice Multiplication Facts. 

You probably have some third graders who struggle to memorize their multiplication facts; they need all the practice they can get. 

Support their journey by providing a collection of multiplication tools such as flashcards, multiplication timed test worksheets (with timers so that they get motivated to beat their previous times), online math apps, and multiplication machines

7. Make a Mini Anchor Chart. 

Anchor charts are learning tools that help students review important information from a lesson.

These posters hang on classroom walls as references.

While these teaching resources are extremely helpful, some students benefit from having mini anchor charts in their notebooks that they can access from home, school, or anywhere. 

So as one of your early finisher activities for 3rd grade, encourage students to create a few miniature anchor charts based on topics for which they need more support. 

See examples of mini anchor charts

Final Thoughts On Third-Grade Early Finisher Activities

While a packet of free worksheets would work well as early finisher activities for 3rd grade students, more engaging tasks will provide greater meaning and impact for students. 

This collection of fast-finisher activities serves that purpose well. 

Not only will you reduce (even eliminate!) the phrase, “Teachers, what do I do now?” from your classroom, but you will accelerate students’ learning process with minimal downtime because they will always know what to do next.