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!
Task Cards Save Paper: Using task cards can cut down on the number of copies and paper used because you don’t need to make a set for each student and if laminated or kept in protective sleeves, they can be used for years without printing new copies.
Task Cards Increase Engagement: They add to student engagement because they add novelty. Paper and pencil practice is certainly useful, but can become dull and routine. Using dry erase markers on a task card can mix things up a bit. Also, task cards can be printed with fun colors and clip art to add interest for the students.
Centers and or Work Stations – Print cards and keep in small containers or baggies. Have students work in pairs or groups solving problems on task cards and recording on a record sheet. I like using record sheets for two reasons. One, the students are more likely to stay on task if they know they will have to turn something in at the end of the center. And, the other reason, I like to look over the record sheets to see if students need re-teaching or extra help with the skill/concept worked on in the center. If you do not have a lot of copy paper you can always have students use notebook paper to create a record sheet. Have them write the name of the center on the paper and then number or letter their answers.
Whole Class Cooperative Groups – My suggestions for whole class would be the same as for work stations & centers except you would need one set of task cards for each table group. After learning or reviewing a concept with whole class, the students could work on the cards with their table groups. After the group work you could have a class discussion about the task cards as a way to wrap up. Another whole class activity which would require only one set of task cards is a “Scoot” or circuit. To set up a Scoot you have a different task card on each desk and have the students work in pairs rotating around the set of task cards in numerical or alphabetical offer. Some teachers will set a timer for scoot and others will let students move as they finish. For a FREE “Scoot Record Sheet” that can be used with any set of task cards, click here.
As I have mentioned in previous posts about fractions, starting with hands on and pictorial activities is vital for helping primary intermediate level students understand fractions. Today I would like to share my top 5 tips for decomposing fractions. These are mainly focused on 3rd – 5th grade, but may be helpful for some older and younger students as well.
1.) I love using my pizza game for hands on fractions! If you don’t have a pizza game, you can use plastic fraction circles or make pizza fractions from paper plates. Show your students a fraction of a pizza such as 5/6. After guided them to name the fraction, show them one way to decompose it by giving 2/6 to one student and 3/6 to another student. Point out that 2/6 + 3/6 is a way to decompose 5/6 and ask if they can name any other ways. Act out other representations such as 2/6 + 1/6 + 2/6 by giving those slices to other students. Try this with several different students.
2.) Give students color tiles or unifix cubes. Give specific directions such as make a rectangle with 3 red, 2 blue and 7 yellow. What fraction of your tiles are not yellow? (5/12) Move the red and blue apart a little to show how 5/12 can also be represented as 3/12 + 2/12. Do this with a few other fractions as well.
3.) Give students pictures of fractions and have them cut them up to show ways to decompose the fraction.
4.) Coloring Practice – Give students pictures of fractions with nothing shaded. Give them directions on what color to color different parts. Then guide them to write number sentences to decompose the fractions.
5.) Play Games! Make your own games to practice decomposing fractions or try one of the games I have available on my TpT page.
Adding two digit numbers can seem like an easy enough task to those of us who have been doing it for a long time! But for elementary students it can sometimes be confusing, especially if there is regrouping involved.
It is helpful to most students to start with something concrete, like place value blocks. Before I teach students the Continue reading
Summer is a great time to sleep in, watch movies, read books, play in the sprinkler and eat ice cream! Summer should be fun and children need time to relax and play. However, the summer can be long and children can forget some of the skills they need for the upcoming school year. I am adding this post to give you some FREE, FUN ideas for helping your children practice math skills! Continue reading