Ah, fast finishers. Just about every teacher has encountered these kids over the years. It feels like you only just handed out the assignment, and already they’re standing in front of you saying “I’m done! Now what?”
Or worse — they’re blurting it out, distracting their classmates who are still heads down on the test or individual task. While some early finishers are done quickly because they haven’t taken the time to carefully complete the work, other fast finishers are just… fast! They may be particularly adept at the skill the class is working on, or they may have above-average intelligence.
Regardless, giving these fast finishers something to engage their brains can make their learning experience better and also allow their classmates a chance to better concentrate on the task at hand. With that in mind, we’ve put together some of our favourite early finisher activities and tips on how to make the process of transitioning those early finishers to a new task runs smoothly.
Activities for Fast Finishers
Earn Your Words
Write the letters of the alphabet on your whiteboard, and assign a cent value to each letter. Challenge fast finishers to come up with a word that will bring them to a specific dollar value. As an alternative, make the first letter of each word equal the value on the chart. Ask kids to write out words, challenging themselves to come up with the highest value list of words they can create.
This is a great way for kids to practice spelling and using their vocabulary words while also pulling in some math skills.
Set up a Word Ladder
Write a word on the board, and tell your fast finishers to grab some paper to write the word on top. Next, they should write a word below that can be created by changing just one letter, below that write a new word that can be created by changing just one letter from that word, and so on.
Hundreds Chart Reveal
Add this to the long, long list of uses for hundreds charts in the classroom! We’ve hidden pictures inside dozens of hundreds charts, so kids can fill in the color-coded numbers to reveal a mystery image!
When you get to school in the morning — or before you leave at night — issue a brain teaser challenge for students to tackle when they’ve got time during the school day, such as when they’ve finished an assignment early. Have a smartboard in your classroom? Skip writing on the board, and use this PowerPoint full of brainteaser challenges! You can also add this set of brainteasers to your collection of task cards for your fast finishers.
Remember that old song, “simply irresistible”? Now you know how we feel about task cards. Good for motivating kids to complete tasks as they move from one card to the next, they’re a must to have on hand in a place where your early finishers can grab them and dive directly into an activity that’s more than just busywork.
See our full array of task cards for fast finishers, canters, and more!
Who stole the cookie? Who scared the black cat? Which key opens the door? Put your students’ quick-thinking brains to work with mini mystery logic games designed to stretch their problem-solving skills while having a whole lot of fun. Here are some of our favourites:
See hundreds more activities for fast finishers designed by teachers for teachers!
Early Finisher Activity Set-Up Ideas
Having fast finisher activities handy may be the answer to keeping kids engaged when they’re done with a classroom task, but how do you make the process seamless, so you don’t have bored kids interrupting their friends? Here are some of our favourite tips for transitioning fast finishers from one task to another.
Create an Anchor Chart
Do you create anchor charts with your students when you go over classroom rules and expectations? This idea comes from teacher Allyssa Knight (@alyssa_knight on Instagram), and it’s a great reference point for students who finish early to remind them what it is they should do next (hint, not yell out your name!).
Make sure your students are fully aware of the routine or what to do when they finish a set task. Of course, they will need to be reminded to ensure they check their work before handing it in.
See more of our favorite anchor chart ideas from teachers!
Create a Choice Chart
Another anchor chart that can help your early finishers find an activity is a choice chart, filled with options of activities, right on the chart displayed on the wall!
Create Fast Finisher Crates
Grab some milk crates from the dollar store, and set up a fast-finisher crate filled with activities your students can grab quietly from the crate to work on when they’ve completed their tasks before their classmates. Set up a crate right beside it for catch-up work that fast finishers can complete if they were absent earlier in the week.
Set Up an I’m Done, Now What Board
Where should kids go instead of asking “I’m Done, Now What?” To the I’m Done, Now What” board, of course! Use pocket folders to create a display on the wall with options for students to solve it, make it, read it, write it, and so on. Think of it as a “choose your own adventure” option for your early finisher activities! To make ours, we use the Colours of the Rainbow Letter Set and the Colours of the Rainbow Word Wall templates.
Set Up a Spinner
Do you have a spinning wheel in your room? They’re perfect for teaching everything from phonics to math, but you’re missing out if you haven’t tried them for your fast finishers yet! Post a series of different early finisher activities on your spinner, and your students can spin their way to the answer to the age-old “now what?” question.
Grab one of our editable spinner templates to add your activities for fast finishers to your wheel:
Create a Fast Finishers’ Folder
Creating a folder full of meaningful early finisher activities for students to complete and stick in their workbooks. Having the folder right at their desk will prevent the distraction that can come from students jumping out of their seats to go find something new to do.
Have a Ball
Add some joy of discovery to the fast finishers process. Write some simple fast finisher activities on ping pong balls and put them in a container at the front of the classroom. When an early finisher has completed their work, they can head to the container to pick a ball.