When you teach a big group of children with diverse skill levels, it’s inevitable that some will finish their work before others. Hearing a few kiddos call out “I’m done!”, can be stressful if you don’t have anything planned to keep them occupied. Today, I’m going to share how to keep those fast finishers engaged in learning with 5 of my favorite early finisher activities.
How To Choose Early Finisher Activities
When selecting activities that will work well for early finishers there are a couple of things to keep in mind. In my room, I try to make sure all of my early finisher activities meet the following criteria:
- Familiar – I tend to choose activities my kiddos have seen before to avoid confusion.
- Quiet- This helps to avoid distracting the rest of your group!
- Easy to Use Independently – Ideally, fast-finisher activities should be easy for kiddos to work on all on their own.
- Promotes Practice – I like to choose fast-finisher activities that help my students review key skills and standards.
- Fun – This is key! I want my kiddos to enjoy these activities and stay engaged while their classmates finish up.
If you can come up with activities that meet all of these criteria, you’re in business! Aligning with these 5 things has really helped me when it comes to choosing activities that will work well for the fast finishers in my classroom.
Planning Early Finisher Activities
Once you’ve decided on your own criteria it’s time to start planning! I like to have one activity prepped and ready for each day of the week. We don’t always use them all, but it’s nice to be prepared just in case!
I like to use plastic tubs like these and label them for each day of the week. Inside each tub, I put the worksheets, and materials for each activity. I try to make it as simple as possible for my kiddos, so they are able to be fully independent when using them. I also like to go over the early finisher tub for the day at the beginning of our lessons. I quickly point out what’s inside and how to use it. This quick intro helps cut down on confusion when kiddos use the materials and activities.
In my classroom, we spend a lot of time in centers and small groups, so one early finisher tub per day seems to be enough. But if your classroom spends more time on independent work throughout the day you might want to prep a few tubs for each day to meet your needs. In addition to the daily tubs, my kiddos also know that they are always welcome to read a book if they finish early as well!
Alright, ready to hear my top 5, favorite early finisher activities? Let’s get to it!
1. Color By Code Activities
First up, color by code is one of my favorite things to use for fast finishers. It’s no-prep, easy for my kiddos to understand, and helps them practice specific skills. Plus, I can print a variety of pages and choose one per day to use in our tubs.
In kindergarten, one of the skills we target with color-by-code pages is learning how to count on. We do this with these fun, spring-themed pages. The worksheets ask students to identify the number in each space and then count on that number. There is a die cube next to each number to help students with the counting on process.
Once kiddos determine their answer, they check the color code to see what color they should make the space. Before using these pages for early finishers, I like to run through them once in small groups or with my whole class. That way, I’ll get a chance to explain the directions and see if my students understand the concept. Once we’ve done that, these no-prep pages make the perfect early-finisher activity that students can work on at their desks.
2. Dry Erase Early Finisher Activities
One of my favorite, low-prep options for fast finishers is a tub of dry-erase boards and letter formation cards. I love that this activity can be used over and over all year long, plus it helps target handwriting; something my students can always use more practice with!
I like to fill a tub with some small dry-erase boards, mini-erasers, colored dry-erase markers, and some laminated letter formation cards.
I use the set of letter cards found in my writing center resources, laminate them and then secure them all together on a binder ring. I make a few sets for both uppercase and lowercase letters.
Students will grab a marker, a board, an eraser, and a binder ring. First, they trace the letter with their finger, then with their dry-erase marker.
Next, they practice writing the letter a few times across their board. You can add some variety to this activity by using word family words, sight words, or seasonal vocabulary cards as well. This simple activity is easy to pull out at a moment’s notice, making it a great addition to your rotation!
3. CVC Word Searches for Early Finishers
CVC Words are a big part of daily learning in kindergarten. To help my students continue to practice reading and writing CVC words, I love to use these CVC Word Searches as an early finisher activity.
These print-and-go worksheets have children identify words and write them out in their word bank. Then, they search the page for the word and circle them as they go.
These pages are perfect for students who are new to CVC words since they have pictures that help kiddos decode each word.
Each of my word search pages targets a specific short vowel sound and there are also some mixed pages as well. I love that these pages are no-prep and easy to use for a fast-finisher activity.
Also, since they have multiple steps, they keep my students engaged in learning for a good amount of time!
4. Cover It Up Pages
This activity is another really simple one to use for fast finishers. Cover it up pages focus on a specific skill like beginning sounds, numbers, or word families. Children will look at the highlighted item at the top of their page and cover up circles on their page that match.
For example, in my Cover It Up Pages for Word Families, children will identify pictures on their page that illustrate a word from that family. Students can use BINGO chips to cover the pictures, or you can have them use BINGO daubers or crayons.
When it comes to fast finishers, I love using crayons for these pages. Students simply grab a page and use the crayons at their desks to color in each circle that matches the highlighted word family. This is a low-fuss, no-prep option that my students can be fully independent with!
5. Play Dough Sight Word Mats
Finally, I saved a student favorite for last. My kids LOVE playdough. It’s by far of their favorite materials to work with and they never seem to tire of it.
I love offering hands-on learning opportunities to my students like these Play Dough Sight Word Mats. These mats utilize playdough as well as dry-erase markers, which makes them such a fun and engaging activity.
To use, I laminate these ahead of time and fill my tub with playdough cans, dry eraser markers, and laminated pages. Students will choose a page and build the word on their page with playdough. Then they use their dry-erase marker to circle the word and practice writing it.
My kids LOVE these playdough mats and they’re wonderful for early finishers since they are reusable. I swap out the words in our tubs throughout the year to reflect the current sight words we’re focusing on.
Plan Your Early Finisher Activities
So, which of these early finisher activities sounds the most fun to you? Hopefully, you found something fun and new to add to your rotation. Having several engaging activities prepped and ready to go is such a game-changer when it comes to meeting the needs of those early finishers!
If you’re looking for even more fun materials to add to your early finisher activities, weekly lessons, or centers, be sure to check out my TpT Shop! You’ll find hands-on learning resources designed to simplify your planning and engage little learners!
Save These Early Finisher Activities
Don’t forget to Pin these ideas to your classroom Pinterest board!