These fun and engaging early finisher activities will eliminate the phrase “What do I do now?” from your classroom.
Isn’t it frustrating to just have finished a lesson, with all students now working on task when after a few moments, you see a hand raised or a student walking towards you?
Then you hear that dreaded phrase, “I’m done! What do I do now?”
Well, those times are now just a memory thanks to early finisher activities.
By using these engaging early finisher activities, your students will never again wonder what to do next.
Your classroom management just got a bit better and your stress level lowered.
Early Finisher Activities
Following you will find a variety of early finisher activities, ideas, and teaching resources for fast finishers.
1. Complete a Book Review.
Provide students a book review template, and have them review a fiction or non-fiction book using 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 stars.
2. Do a Hidden Picture Puzzle.
Students love finding all the secret pictures in Hidden Picture Puzzles.
3. Work on Literature Circle Roles Assignment.
Have students complete work for their book club.
4. Practice Math or Spelling On a Dry-Erase Board.
All ages love dry-erase boards. Learners practice the weekly spelling words or math facts on mini whiteboards.
5. Review Math Facts With Flash Cards.
Students simply challenge themselves to answer all cards correctly within a round.
6. Write a Poem.
Provide a poem template such as… “List ten words related to January. Now write a poem with those words.”
You could also assign a specific type of poem such as an acrostic or haiku.
7. Answer Reader Response Questions.
After reading a book, students answer a few reader response questions about the text in their reading journals.
8. Draft a Narrative or Informational Writing Prompt.
It’s always a good time to develop writing skills.
Ask students to draft an essay or a few paragraphs in response to an informational or narrative writing prompt.
9. Come Up With a Set of Riddles.
Have kids write a few age-appropriate jokes about school life or any topic of interest to them.
10. Practice Cursive Handwriting.
In their spelling or writing notebooks, students practice cursive penmanship.
11. Respond to a Writing Prompt.
Writing prompts are fantastic assignments to use as early finisher activities because they integrate well with every subject area.
They encourage kids to stretch their imaginations plus develop their writing skills.
12. Design a Bulletin Board.
A great way to save time as a teacher is to have students help generate ideas for the subject-specific bulletin boards.
13. Create an Anticipation Guide.
After completing a few anticipation guides in class, learners will be more than ready to create their own anticipation guide based on a favorite non-fiction book.
Students journal about what they did with family or friends during the past weekend.
15. List U.S States and Capitals.
Have students practice their knowledge of states and capitals.
16. Revise and Edit a Piece of Writing.
For those kids who need more time outside of writer’s workshop to complete a writing piece, this is a perfect time to do so.
17. Write a Letter to Your 100-Year-Old Self.
Motivate students to stretch their imaginations by asking that they write a heart-felt or humorous letter to themselves as mature citizens.
18. Create a Word Sort.
This fun, hands-on activity is perfect for those kinesthetic learners who need to stay moving and also focused on learning.
19. Fill Out a Graphic Organizer.
Simple yet effective, completing a graphic organizer is a fantastic fast finisher activity because it can be easily differentiated for different student ability levels and is useful for reviewing a variety of skills.
20. Turn a Book Into a 3D Project Using Foldables™.
Assess students’ reading comprehension using Foldables, an interactive way for kids to show what they know.
21. Answer an Exit Ticket Question or Prompt.
Have students respond to the lesson just taught using an exit ticket question or prompt.
These quick informal assessments provide great feedback for teachers.
22. Write a Kind or Encouraging Note to a Classmate.
Classmates compose a warm note for a peer.
23. Make a Quiz About a Current Topic.
Students create a mini-test for a skill or concept the class is currently learning about.
24. Learn New Words In a Different Language.
Encourage students to grab a language book and practice a few new words from another language.
25. Update Your Student Grade Sheet.
Prompts learners to stay current on tracking their grades. Download this student grade sheet.
26. Choose an Activity from a Choice Board.
Choice boards include a variety of activities from which learners can choose.
27. Add the Alphabet.
This fun early finisher activity goes as follows…
A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, D =4, E = 5, F = 6, G = 7, H = 8, I = 9, J = 10, K = 11, L = 12, M = 13, N = 14, O = 15, P =16, Q = 17, R = 18, S = 19, T = 20, U = 21, V = 22, W = 23, X = 24, Y = 25, Z = 26
What’s the sum of your name?
Example: Lily: L =12, I = 9, L = 12, Y = 25
Lily = 58
Encourage kids to try different words. For a challenge, have them multiply instead of add.
28. Try to Write Backwards.
On a sheet of paper, students write a short message backward in cursive or print.
Then a partner turns the paper over, holds it up to the light, and reads it. A mirror works well too.
29. Doodle One of Your Spelling Words.
Awaken students’ creativity and art skills by having them doodle a few spelling words.
Doodling simply means to write a word and then draw around it in order to create a colorful piece of art.
30. Draft New S.M.A.R.T Goals or Readjust Old Ones.
Learners revisit S.M.A.R.T goals, reflecting on what is working and what is not.
31. Track Learning Progress With a Data Tracking Sheet.
Remind students to keep track of their learning process using data tracking sheets. These tools prove helpful during parent-teacher conferences.
32. Finish or Start Homework.
If allowed, learners work on assignments meant for home.
33. Perform a Brain Break.
Brain breaks are not just for disconnecting. They can also be great for learning.
See these brain breaks activities for ideas.
34. Draft a Reader’s Theater Script.
Students love writing a mini play that can later be performed for peers.
35. Color or Draw.
Coloring and drawing are not just for very young children. Students of all ages find this activity therapeutic.
36. Work On an Activity Packet.
Compile a few extension activities for students to complete. These tasks reinforce skills and concepts.
37. Participate In a Math Center.
Direct students to a math station to practice skills once done with class assignments.
38. Visit the School Library.
Encourage students to check out books if they finish work early.
39. Make a Mini Anchor Chart.
Anchor charts benefit learning greatly, and requiring students to make a few small ones to keep in their reading journals is a good idea.
40. Solve a Sudoku Puzzle.
Sudoku puzzles have easy, medium, and hard levels so there’s a puzzle to fit every academic level in your classroom.
41. Catch Up On Your Classroom Job.
Remind students to complete their daily classroom job duties.
42. Read Silently.
Once finished with work, students read silently at their desks or in a designated spot.
43. Design a Reading Bookmark.
Develop learners’ creative side by having them create a cool reading bookmark.
Challenge them to make it educational in some way.
44. Spell Vocabulary Words With Playdough.
Keep Playdough handy, and offer students the chance to practice spelling or vocabulary words with it.
45. Make a “Building” For Geometry City.
Promote critical thinking skills by having students work on 3-D forms for a geometry city.
46. Join a Literacy Center.
After finishing class work, students reinforce reading and writing skills by participating in literacy workstations.
47. Conduct a Simple Science Experiment.
In a science center, students use the scientific method to conduct simple experiments.
48. Watch a BrainPop Video.
Using iPads, cell phones, or tablets, learners watch a video pertaining to something they are learning about in class.
49. Research a Topic For an Essay.
Encourage students to satisfy their curiosity through research. See a list of research topics to get them started.
50. Write a Letter to Next Year’s Class.
Students draft a letter to the students in the grade below telling them what to expect next year.
51. Add Artifacts and Notes to Your Student Portfolio.
Students update their student portfolios which prove useful in parent-teacher conferences and for end-of-year portfolio presentations.
52. Practice Study Skills.
Encourage learners to master a few important study skills in order to boost grades and academic progress.
53. Complete Word Search.
Every kid knows how to complete a word search. That’s why it makes a practical early finisher activity.
To take things to another level, require children to take five of the terms and use them in a sentence or create a story.
54. Compose Song About a Concept.
Students write a friendly jingle or melody surrounding a math or science concept..
55. Put Head Down/Rest.
Sometimes students simply need to take a break from all the work. A 5-minute rest does wonders.
56. Find Your Own Early Finisher Activity (Wild Card).
Challenge students to find their own useful early finisher activity.
This option is great for students who love to have choices.
57. Unscramble a Word Jumble.
Word jumbles are a particularly good fit for struggling spellers.
Once students complete the word jumble, ask them to choose 5 of the terms. They write a sentence with each or draft a story.
58. Reinforce Math Skills By Solving Word Problems.
Working in their math journals, students solve a set of math problems/riddles.
59. Create a Map of Your Bedroom.
See if your elementary, middle, or high school students know the details of their bedrooms by asking them to make an aerial map of their room.
60. Make and Label a Graph.
What a great way to practice using text features.
For any non-fiction book students have been reading, they will create a graph that relates to the text.
61. Sketch a Scene From Your Favorite Book.
Have students draw an important picture or two from a book they love.
Then they will caption the picture.
62. Brainstorm Smaller Words Within a Big Word.
With this activity, you provide students with a word.
An example … stadium.
Now the kids brainstorm as many 2-letter, 3-letter, 4-letter, 5-letter, and 6-letter words as possible using that term.
63. Explore a Text Using Fun Book Projects.
If you have mature students who read instructions well and stay on task more often than not, then book projects will serve well in your classroom as a fast finisher task.
Final Thoughts: Early Finisher Activities
Never again hear the question, “What do I do now?”. These early finisher activities keep students engaged.