Fast Finisher Activities for 1st Grade

7 Simple Ways to Keep Fast Finishers Engaged

Fast Finisher Activities for Primary Classrooms

Managing fast finishers is a common problem for elementary school teachers. You know the scenario- a student eagerly raises their hand and shouts, "I'm done. Now what?" Or better yet, they line up to tell you they are done while you are working with a small group. 

While it is great that students are enthusiastic and efficient in completing their tasks, it's equally important to keep them engaged and learning. In this post, we'll explore some creative and effective fast finisher strategies and activities that can help you solve the "I'm done" problem while keeping your primary students excited about learning.

1. Establish a Fast Finisher System

Communication is part of the "I'm done." problem. Communicating expectations and directions is essential. Using a chart and activity cards (shown below) is a helpful visual that tell students exactly what they need to do when their work is complete. 

Fast Finisher Chart for Elementary Classrooms

Use velcro dots to easily switch out fast finisher activities throughout the day. 

Early Finisher Choice Board Fast Finisher Choice Board for "I'm done. Now what?"

You can also type in your own activities in Powerpoint, which makes this very convenient for teachers. Click here to see more.

2. Independent Reading

This is an easy "go-to" activity for most students. Encouraging a love for reading is a huge part of our jobs as teachers. Helping early readers feel successful in reading is equally as important. Book bags (or boxes) are a great way to do both. Help students select 2-3 books at their independent reading level each week. You can let them choose an instructional level book to grab their interest, too. This helps to ensure that students are able to practice their reading skills when that "Read to Self" opportunity presents itself. 

Example of 1st Grade Book Bag

3. Creative Writing

Children have the best imaginations. Provide a variety of writing prompts. Set up a writing center with colorful paper, markers, and other supplies to inspire their creativity. Sharing their work with the class or creating a class book can be motivating for young writers. There are several creative writing ideas in the Fast Finisher Chart posted above. 

4. Color by Number

This is the perfect no prep activity to keep students engaged while practicing academic skills and strengthening fine motor skills. My students look forward to a new set every week, keeping this familiar favorite exciting!

Color by Code Number Recognition

5. Puzzles and Brainteasers 

Puzzles and brain teasers are an excellent way to challenge fast finishers' critical thinking skills. Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and riddles can be both fun and educational. Mystery Puzzles are a trending activity in many classrooms. They are no prep and have phonics skills you can use throughout the school year. You can try a free mystery puzzle here

Beginning Sounds Mystery Puzzles   

Mazes have also been HUGE hit. Students can color these printables in or cover the path with bingo chips.  

CVC Words Activities Mazes

6. STEM Challenges

Introduce fast finishers to the fascinating world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through hands-on challenges. Provide materials like building blocks, craft supplies, or even simple coding activities. Challenges can range from building the tallest tower with limited resources to creating a simple circuit. These activities promote problem-solving and teamwork. I will caution you that students LOVE these types of activities so this option may not be the "quiet" activity you are wanting them to engage in at this time. 

7. Educational Games 

Engage your fast finishers in educational games that reinforce what they've learned in class. Board games, card games, and educational apps can provide an entertaining way to review concepts in math, language arts, or science. Make sure the games are age-appropriate and align with your curriculum. Simple dice games can be a great way to practice math facts. You can try a free sample here. 

1st Grade Dice Games for Fast Finishers

Incorporating coloring into your fast finisher activity is also an effective way to engage students. My 1st grader and Kindergartener love the Add and Color Task Cards for each season. 

Add and Color Fast Finisher Activity

Managing fast finishers in the primary classroom can make a big difference in creating a productive and supporting learning environment. By providing a variety of engaging and educational activities, you can ensure that your students remain motivated, challenged, and excited about learning. 

Need more ideas? Click here to read more about how I motivate students with Mystery Puzzles!

Back to blog