“I’m done! Now what?” Every. Single. Day. As teachers, we dread hearing these words! You’ve already put so much time and effort into the online lesson plan, you didn’t have a chance to plan anything else! Amongst the many challenges teaching online is the fact that some littles finish tasks way quicker than others. This leaves us scrambling to figure out how to keep our students occupied with something educational while still working with the others who haven’t finished.
It is SO important to have a backup plan for our early finishers. Inevitably, some of our students will finish before the rest of our students and we need something to occupy them. More than just that we want to give them relevant work to extend their understanding, not just busy work. This becomes even more of a challenge online as I’m sure all of us have fast finishers in our arsenal in the classroom, but online is a whole new ball game. In this post I have some great and easy digital ideas for those early finishers that both you and they will love!
Ideas for Early Finishers
Digital Choice Boards
Our littles LOVE to have a say in their education and the buy-in you get when they do is amazing! A digital choice board is my first go to when I have fast finishers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with choice boards students have access to a slide with multiple links that will take them to the activity of their choice. Choice boards can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. They are fairly simple to create on your own or you can find templates and options already set up for you on TPT or other places online. One free resource is slidesmania.com.
Digital choice boards are always a great option for your early finishers because you can use it every time. You won’t need to create new activities for each lesson or each day. You can easily adjust the activities whenever you want. As mentioned above, students love choice and the great part is, you get to choose what choices they have! You could even create digital choice boards for each subject if you want! Any online activity can be added to your digital choice board, so it’s always the perfect option for early finishing middles.
I am a huge proponent of reading! Students in my classroom read lots of books throughout the year! Besides my classroom library, my students really enjoy reading or listening to audiobooks online. A lot of districts or public libraries have access to online ebooks or audiobooks making reading more accessible to students than ever! I believe that the best way for our littles to become better readers is to just read!
While it is important for us to choose appropriate books for them in our guided instruction, there is also huge power in choice. I so often find that my students enjoy the books they choose to read more than the books I choose for them. And usually it’s simply because THEY got to choose them! When our littles have a choice on what to read they are more invested and more likely to enjoy books and increase their reading ability. In the classroom, independent reading is always my first go-to for a fast finisher and it can be a great tool online as well!
I think that sometimes in our quest to give our littles the best education we can, we forget the importance of play. Research has shown that children learn and benefit from play! While I don’t believe in a lot of online or virtual playing, I do believe it has a place in our modern world! The great thing too is that we don’t have to choose between play or education! A lot of the games our littles love to play online have educational purposes! Games are always a great way to have students engaging with more of the content we are trying to teach them in a fun way.
There may also be times that you just want to let your students play for playing’s sake! Logic puzzles are great online activities. One and I know my students loved the “slide block challenge” you can find online all year long! Some of the other games my students love are:
Little alchemy – A fun and simple game! Students begin with 4 elements and have an opportunity to make many new elements throughout the game.
Gartic Phone – Gartic phone is a combination of Pictionary and Telephone. Players must write a silly sentence, and then they receive a silly sentence from someone else, which they must draw a picture of. Their picture is then passed to another person, who must write what they think the original sentence was, based on the picture. After that, everything is revealed and everyone has a good laugh.
Blooket – Blooket is a trivia and review game my students love! Players will answer questions to help them win and it offers a variety of games to keep students engaged and excited!
code.org – Get your students coding! There are a number of courses and activities that will keep them learning well after their work is complete. The best part is that it is FREE!
Bamboozle – Hundreds of different games for students to choose from!
Knowledgehook – Knowledge hook is an Instructional Guidance System (IGS) that uses engaging assessments to unlock insights for teachers. It enables students to use their critical thinking skills to solve a variety of mathematical problems. This site is great to help consolidate your learning from your math lessons or unit.
A quick online search will help you find some great games for your students, educational or not. And you can always ask your littles themselves! I’m sure they’d be happy to give you lots of ideas!
Independent and Meaningful Projects
Projects are another great tool for littles who finish early. They should always be meaningful and purposeful rather than busy work and are a great opportunity for students to extend their knowledge. Projects are also great for you because your students will need more than just one day to work on them! So one project will give you fast finishers for a while! When choosing projects, try and make sure that you have buy-in from your students! You want them to be engaged in what they are doing or they likely won’t do it at all!
My students always love doing my Famous Canadians Biography Research Project or Black History Month Project! In these projects, they do self-directed research about someone who interests them and it’s so much fun! They talk about their basic information, create a timeline, a slideshow, a graffiti board, and more! They always love sharing their end products! This resource also includes teacher instructions and an assessment rubric that makes it a breeze for you! You can grab this project here or check out some of my other projects!
I also love genius hour projects! In genius hour, students get to choose something that interests them and then create their own project! There are lots of resources online to help guide you in setting up genius hour. It can be done both in person and online! Projects are always an awesome way of engaging students and teaching them how to develop researching skills!
Now You Know What
Hopefully you have some good ideas of how to tackle the inevitable “I’m done! Now what?” question that will continue to come your way both with in-person and online teaching! Set up your projects, choice boards, and expectations with your students and you will be amazed how few “Now what’s?” you’ll hear!