What in the world do you do with early finishers? This is a big question for teachers! I think it is important to teach your students to check their work when finished. Teaching students to improve their work when they think they are finished is a valuable lesson. But, after that, there are always going to be a handful of students who will finish their work sooner than the rest of the class. So, back to the question … What do you do? Sitting and waiting for the rest of the class to finish or doing busy work can be very boring and is not giving these students a chance to continue learning. Here are some of my favorite ideas for early finishers!
Set up a system for students so they can find out what to do without disrupting the class or asking you while you are helping other students. I love this display that can be set up at the front of the room. The signs can be switched out depending on what you want the students to do each day.
Make sure your students know your expectations so they are not off task or disruptive. This poster is a great example and it is free! You could also make an anchor chart.
Have a place to organize the materials and supplies the students need for the activities to minimize questions such as “where do I get paper for _____ …. ?”
Extension menus are great for independent work. I like this reading menu, but you could make a menu for any subject. For example, if you are working on place value you could have a menu with place value activities for students to choose from.
Bulletin boards such as Boggle or Noggle can be fun! You can change the numbers or letters out every week or two. You could even put some students in charge of updating the board and making the answer key!
Stem Bins are a great hands on activity. Lots of fun while building reasoning skills.
Partner games and centers are a way to let your students interact with others while practicing skills.
Computer games and websites can be great learning tools. Make sure you set procedures up for how to get online and which sites students will go. Here are some of my favorites!
For more great ideas check out my early finishers board on Pinterest!
I am not sure when I learned how to write numbers in expanded notation, but I am certain it was not in 3rd grade. Students now are expected to learn how to write numbers in expanded notation as early as 3rd grade here in Texas and I am sure that applies to other states as well. But why? It is part of a push to help students understand the relationships between places and digits in our base ten number system. It can seem difficult at times, but with hands on activities and a lot of practice, your students can master expanded notation.
One method I find to be very effective is using play money:
Give your students a number. Guide them to use their play value money to model the number.
Then ask them “Ask “How many hundred thousands?” Tell “Expanded notation shows the number in each place times the value of the place, so 3 hundred thousands is 3 x 100,000.”
Continue questioning and guiding students to use play money to help them write the numbers.
You can download my play money for FREE by clicking the picture above.
For more great place value ideas, check out my Place Value Board on Pinterest!
There are many ways to teach problem solving to elementary students. Most students are successful with a well structured problem solving plan. However, we all have at least a few students who just don’t “get it” with regular classroom lessons. Working one on one or in small groups and applying well planned interventions helps these students find success. Last week I shared my first three top tips and today I am sharing the next three tips:
Some students understand the questions just fine, but have trouble seeing the big picture, the story or the scenario. These students need extra help laying out the details. Most students will benefit from instruction in drawing pictures or making diagrams, and struggling students will especially need to practice with this. I like to teach my students how to make part-part-whole and whole-part-part models.
We will discuss each clue and label it as a part or the whole and then work from there. Strip diagrams and unit bars work well too. I also like to encourage students to make actual pictures of the clues. I am no artist and the kids like to laugh at my drawings with me!
This is so important for students who have trouble visualizing the actions in the problem. An example could be using this problem below with Martina and her purse. I will get play money out and we will actually act out the story with the play money. Another example could be to use colored counters with the apple story below. Now there are some big numbers so you could use smaller numbers to practice acting it out and then transfer the actions to your paper with the larger numbers.
Sometimes students get caught up by the big numbers and can’t focus on the actions in the problem. For these students you can cross out the big numbers, substitute with smaller numbers and have them solve. Then apply the actions to the bigger numbers. If needed, use manipulatives to help build understanding.
Missed Part 1 from last week? Find it here: