We all have those classroom speed racers who are done with a project in the blink of an eye. Coincidentally, these students also seem to be my busybodies and mischiefs. This past summer, I took some time to revamp what my early finishers can do when they are finished. If students aren’t sure what they can do when they are finished, I have a sign that lists all of their choice time options. I also have signs at each station that talk about the do’s and don’ts of each station.
Here is a video that I made last year that I showed to my students that discusses each station. It’s pretty dry to watch but you’re welcome to view it!
Typically with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, I give them the choice to free draw. I have bins in my room that have scrap papers sorted by color. They are welcome to use these papers to draw or cut whatever they like out of them. I have the Art of Ed drawing prompts list posted next to the free draw paper to give students ideas to draw if they are stumped. I also have how-to-draw book to help them out. I do not allow students to glue during free draw time though. I found that any sense of how to use a glue bottle properly went out the window and I was quickly running out of glue.
I have always used ‘sketchbooks’ with my kinders and 1st graders. The one I use with kindergarten is moreso a bunch of coloring pages for them. I’m sure many of you have your own thoughts, good or bad, on coloring books but I find it good practice for the kids to practice their fine motor skills trying to color in the lines. I have large bins of crayons and students know to grab them and use them in their sketchbooks. I only allow the use of crayons for early finisher activities. 1st grade’s sketchbooks have a mixture of coloring pages as well as some pages that have drawing prompts. I also have sketchbooks for 2nd grade but we only work on those once in a while, not whenever students finish early. 2nd grade’s sketchbooks are all drawing prompts. The Art of Ed has a great list of drawing prompts that can be found here!
I was walking through the Dollar Tree (I’m super addicted to that place!) last summer and found a bunch of Norman Rockwell puzzles. I snagged about 6 of them for my classroom. Each puzzle is 500 pieces. Because the puzzles were only a $1, it’s clear that they were obviously cheaply made. Because of their low quality, the pieces don’t interlock very well and oftentimes come apart if bumped. Secretly, this has become my little addiction in my classroom. If I have a down minute or two, I’ll work away at the puzzle. I have a taped off square that I require the puzzle to stay in so pieces don’t end up scattered across my counter. I also only allow 3 students to work on the puzzle at a time.
A few years ago I received a grant for using fibers in my classroom. I purchased a bunch of snow-fencing and fabric with the grant for a weaving project. Since then, my custodian has built me a PVC frame with a wooden base. I stretch the pieces of fencing on the PVC frame and then students are allowed to weave pieces of fabric into the fencing. My fabric strips are cool colored in hopes that I could subliminally mellow students out. Shhhh, don’t tell the students. I allow 5 students to work at the weaving wall at once.
Do a Job for Mr. Calvert
Some students like to do jobs for me when I am finished. Some days I have jobs for them, other days I don't. This can include sorting through my paper bins and throwing away pieces too small to use, wiping down tables and counters, picking up/setting out art supplies, or peeling crayons (they love to peel crayons).
Read a Book
I have a large bookshelf with tons of books that students are welcome to read. Many of the books have been donated to me from our school library when they pull old books out of circulation.
I have already begun to think about more activities that students can do for next year. Here are a few more that will be added this coming school year.
Our PTO was gracious enough to give each teacher a sum of money to spend on Scholastics stuff. I chose to purchase a couple large bins full of legos. I will probably allow 3 or 4 students to work with each bin of legos next year. I also need to figure out where I am going to have students work with these so that they don’t end up scattered all over my classroom.
A couple teachers have given me their old Bendaroos to use. Bendaroos are strings that have some kind of waxy/greasy coating over them. You can stick them to things such as walls or doors. I thought students could use these to draw on empty parts of my walls.
I recently acquired a small storage bin that can fit 6x6 sheets of paper in it. I am going to cut down some different colored printer papers, as well as print off different origami instructions so that students may work on origami when they are finished.
Participating Art Teacher Blogs:
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President. Apple Teacher.