Finished? Now try this! Early Finisher activities in Math class

So, now what?  A student finishes her homework, but there’s still time left in class.  When you ask her what’s she’s going to work on now, she says, “I’m finished.  I have nothing to do.”

Au contrair, mon ami!

There’s always something to do in Math class!  At least there is now, since I decided to create a “Finished? Now try this…” choice board.Finished now try this

As you can see, it’s actually on a section of chalkboard that I never use.  I don’t even own chalk!  I can’t tack anything to it, so I laminated some file folders and attached magnet tape to the back of each one.  I do have one larger green plastic folder/pouch that you see in the lower right corner, at that also has magnet tape on the back.

I make a huge deal of telling my students that if they finish early, they have 8 (yes, 8!) choices.  With so many choices, they are bound to find something that peaks their interests.

Here are the 8 choices.

  1. Read – Yes, I would rather have them work on Math.  But, I believe that being a good reader means being a good thinker.  It’s going to help them in all subjects, including Math.
  2. Enrichment – I made a list of enrichment activities that kids can work on.  You can download a free copy here.  Sometimes I offer homework passes or bonus points if kids turn in quality enrichment projects.
  3. Spot the Difference – Yes, they are what you think they are.  They’re the same spot the difference activities that we completed as kids, like these.  I think these activities really do help students in Math.  It forces them to concentrate and look for details.  If they are actively searching for differences, it may help them look for differences in their own work and the examples in their notes/textbooks.
  4. Visual Spatial Skills – I may need a different name for these, but my goal is to provide students with activities that require them to use their eyes and their brains to visualize shapes.  This can involve transforming shapes.    I found several really cool puzzles that fit the bill at WorksheetWorks.com, including Pentominoes, Cube Matching, and Grid Pattern Searches.  I plan on including some tanagrams this year, too.
  5. Friday Facts – Even though my students are 6th graders, I still require them to do weekly multiplication and divsion facts, like this, without a calculator.  This is a weekly assignment.  It must be turned in by Friday morning (hence, the name), and I encourage students to finish it if they complete their other work early.  It should not have to be homework.
  6. The Greatest Math Problem Ever! (this week) – This is a fun, weekly challenge problem, or very short set of problems, that my students can complete to earn a  prize.  I offer candy and non-candy prizes.  When students finish, they place the slip of paper on my desk in a designated basket.  I make a big deal of announcing the winners, so other kids are encouraged to try it for themselves.  I borrowed a lot of problems from this site.  It’s not pretty or updated, but there are some good problems if you know your students ability levels.
  7. Coded Coloring – There are a handful of students in each class that absolutely love to color.  It’s not for everybody, but coded coloring pages like these, help students relax and concentrate at the same time.  Students are also following a coded set of rules, which certainly is connected to mathematics.
  8. Coordinate Grid Pictures – I am always amazed at how my students improve their coordinate graphing skills in sixth grade.  It’s included in our normal curriculum, but each month I also post a fun coordinate grid picture that my students can try.  The image usually forms a cartoon character of some type, like this Snoopy one.  The smiling sun pictured above is a freebie from fellow TpT’er Hayley Cain.

So there you have it.  Eight choices for when students finish early.  No no one can say they have nothing to do.

What do  you have your students do when they complete the in-class work?  Feel free to share a comment below 🙂

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