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Tips for Keeping your Fast Finishers Engaged


Every teacher knows when giving students an assignment that they will finish at different times. Keeping your fast finishers engaged is extremely important for classroom management. Today I will be sharing some tried and true tips for keeping your fast finishers engaged. I used these tips in a fourth grade classroom, but they could be adapted to work in any grade level.

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1. Read a Book

This tip is tried and true. When your students finish an assignment they can read a book for pleasure. My students always had a book in their desk at all times. This way when they finished they had a book at their fingertips and wouldn’t disrupt their peers by walking the room to pick one out. The one caution with this is to make sure your students have access to a book that is right for them and that they enjoy reading.

2. Brain Teasers/Puzzles/HOTS

HOTS is an acronym for higher order thinking skills. When I was in the fourth grade classroom we had HOTS time every Friday afternoon. This was a time that was looked forward to by so many of my students. I would also put these activities out for fast finishers so that students who enjoy them could work on them in their spare time.

The HOTS activities I used in my classroom were aimed to reach the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The HOTS packet linked below has critical thinking sheets and task cards that are fun and get students thinking.

Cover Image of HOTS: Higher Order Thinking Skills activity

Another great activity for students to work on are puzzles. Puzzles are fun and they come in a variety of topics so you could have students working on puzzles about something you are studying. Below are a variety of kids puzzles.

Easily keep the puzzles at the student desks without taking much room using puzzle bags. Cut the picture from the box for reference and put the pieces in these zippered bags.

This way the puzzles take up less room and are portable.

The final item in this category is one from my childhood. I have the fondest memories of going to a local breakfast place with my grandparents as a child. On each table they had these wooden brain teasers. I loved them so much and they kept me busy until breakfast arrived. My students seemed to love them as much as I did!

3. Work on Unfinished Work

I had a list on my whiteboard of must do and may do work. My students needed to finish the must do work before moving on to something from the may do column. On this list I would put all the assignments that students need to complete. My students knew once the finished what we were working on that they could work on anything from that list. Of course, there were students who were always caught up on their must do work which is why I had many options for students who finished independent work before their peers.

4. Genius Hour

I talked about Genius hour in this blog post, but it is a great way to have your students do an independent study on something they are passionate about. This is the link to the Genius Hour that I used in my classroom.

5. Fast Finisher Work

I created fast finishers activities themed for each month. These are available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. These activities are minimal prep. They foster creative and critical thinking.

Each fast finisher activity has a challenge word list, word wall cards, and themed bingo board. They also include critical thinking questions in the form of make a choice and would you rather question cards.

Make a choice cards, recording sheet, and a green pen are shown in the picture
Make a choice question cards and recording sheet March edition
Would you rather cards on a colorful backdrop with pens and erasers laid across the top
Would you rather question cards with recording sheet

The book review sheets included in each month are perfect for your students to share their good reads. I usually put the completed ones in a binder in the classroom library. Students could flip through and look at recommendations from their peers about what to read.

Book Review worksheet with pens
Place these in a 3 ring binder in the library area for students to use when looking for their next book

Each month includes themed activities. This crack the code joke is included in the October edition.

Crack the code Halloween edition

These themed word searches and critical thinking sheets are perfect to print and leave out for students to try.

Word searches
Critical thinking sheets: Students will create questions for the answers written down on the paper.

Themed sequencing cut, paste, and write worksheets are included in each fast finisher activity pack. This winter clothes sequencing is included in January.

Internet scavenger hunts are another fun activity for your students to complete. Your students navigate to a website, watch a video or read an article and answer questions about what they have read.

The final activity is quote analysis. Your students will look at quotes and analyze what they are about.

See all my fast finisher products here.

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    My name is Jen and I’m the face behind Endeavors in Education.

    I have a passion for ELA and science. I am even STEM certified. Now I spend my time hanging with my kids, blogging (endeavorsined.com), and creating for my TpT store Endeavors in Education.

    I’m so happy you’ve joined me on this journey!

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