This post originally appeared on the blog Surfing to Success.
As the end of the year approaches, are your early finishers getting into mischief? Here are a couple of simple ideas to focus students on early finisher activities that will keep your classroom running smoothly at the end of the year.
Early Finishers: Being Thankful
Teaching gratitude helps students learn an important life skill. In the last month of school, create a list with your students of everyone who has helped your class this year including the people who keep your school running. Every time I do this activity, I’m amazed at who the students think of. Some people may include the principal, vice principal, school secretaries, custodians, librarians, specialists, parent volunteers, tutors, instructional assistants, and bus drivers. Once you have this list, post it somewhere in the classroom and leave room for additional names. Early finishers can work on thanking the people on the list. There are many options for this. Just pick the one that fits your kiddos best. A student could write a thank you letter from the class and then check that person off the list.
Each student could write a letter or draw a picture for that person that you make into a book. You can even turn it into an art project.
Early Finishers: Being Helpful
The end of the year is a busy time for teachers. (Like I have to tell you that!) With a little forethought and a class meeting to spell out expectations, your early finishers can help alleviate some of that
stress work. Take a moment to create a list of end of the year projects that your students can help with. Some examples:
- Go through markers, test them, throw out ones that no longer work.
- Go through glue bin. Discard any dried up glue.
- Go through colored pencils. Sharpen pencils. (Handheld sharpener recommended)
- Wrap washi tape around class scissors, pencils, markers, etc.
- Sharpen pencils.
- Test white board markers, discard dried up markers.
- Clean individual white boards with white board cleaner.
- Go through each bin / shelf in the library. Put books in their proper place.
- Go through bins of math manipulatives. Organize.
- Use dish soap and a sponge to sanitize math manipulatives. (Clear guidelines recommended!)
- Organize a drawer or cabinet.
- Hole punch drawings and letters to the teacher and put them in a binder.
- Take things off the wall and put into a container.
- Wipe down surfaces that are forgotten.
- Clean chairs.
Once you have a list, call it “Special Assignments” and keep it on a clipboard. An early finisher can request a special assignment from you. This way, you can assign a job that matches their ability / focus level. Remember, you want to be careful not to start special assignments too soon. You may want to call them Spring Cleaning rather than End of Year special assignments. Students start to get anxiety around the end of the year and connecting these tasks to the fact that they are leaving could trigger unwanted behavior. We are, after all, trying to make your job easier, not harder.
Everything you’ll need to use these strategies is in this freebie. There is a letter writing page for Kinder, primary, and upper grades for the thank you letters. I’ve even included a special assignment checklist. One checklist has ideas to get you started and another is blank. If you like it, please take a moment to leave feedback.
Mercedes Hutchens is a K-6 Intervention teacher with a passion for helping students meet challenging yet obtainable goals. In her 18 years of elementary education, she has fallen in love with taking complex concepts and breaking them into fun manageable chunks for her students, and then sharing them on her blog, Surfing to Success, and on TpT. She enjoys taking photos while on adventures with her husband and puppy. She recently started sharing those photos at Dollar Stock Photos. You can also find her on Instagram, Pinterest, her Surfing to Success Facebook page, and her Dollar Stock Photos Facebook page — or you can look for her at the beach.