Early finisher activities for kindergarten and first grade. Paperless games and activities to keep students learning after center activities are complete or during extra time throughout the day!
Early Finisher Activities
I am sure you would love to have a collection of perfectly timed activities in which all of your students complete their tasks at THE. EXACT. SAME. MOMENT… that is not reality. If you use any of my center activities, you know that some of them are never-ending, meaning they are never done. However, some centers do have a beginning, middle, and end. That is where early finisher activities come in!
Dessert Tubs... AKA Early Finisher Activities
Some time ago… I started making “Dessert Tubs.” I got the term “dessert” from my clever friend, Cara Carroll. That is what she called them and… well… I DO love dessert!
When students have finished an activity, they simply go and grab their “dessert tub.” When I used these, it cut down on the visiting and gypsy-like movements in my classroom. And of course, my students ALWAYS had the option to read a book at their desk instead.
What goes in the tub?
There are a variety of activities that can be used in dessert tubs. For my tubs, I had 3 guidelines:
- I wanted the activities to be self-explanatory and something students were already familiar with.
- I wanted the activities to be “paperless” meaning… no paper product. Students may only be at these tasks for a few minutes. I didn’t want MORE paper in my life… save the TREES!
- I wanted the tasks to be meaningful practice.
Games and Activities
Number and Letter Formation
I may have a million of these little ABC games. They are quick and fun to play. They can be played with a partner or they can pretend to play with “Dexter” (my dog… who was not in the classroom). That would always make my students giggle.
As the year progresses, you can add CVC and CVCe word cards.
This is a brand new game to practice math and literacy skills that will be available soon. Check back for the link!
Time Me Games
Time Me! is a fun activity. You can start the year with the alphabet cards then move onto sight words. You can create several sets of cards and therefore differentiate this activity. SIMPLE! (There is a free sample at the end of this post).
This game is editable so you can add your own sight words.
Sequence is a fun game that my students seemed to never grow weary of. Students will spin a spinner, then look for a picture that starts the same. The example below offers blends. BUT (once again) I have a bunch of versions… from letter ID to more complex phonics.
Roll, Say, Keep
Another card game that has a TON of different versions!
Again, this game is editable so you can add your own sight words.
There are also Roll, Say, Keep games to practice math skills! Check it out here:
Eraser Sort (FREE FILE #1)
I get so excited about new erasers in the dollar bin at Target! This eraser sort is a fun math activity that you can add to the dessert bins any time of the year. Just change out the erasers for the season!
Your students will LOVE this early finisher activity!
There are math and literacy BUMP games. You can see more about these games in this blog post.
100 Chart Mystery Puzzles
These differentiated mystery puzzles are so fun!
Your students will love the fun puzzles for each season of the year! You can try out a free sample from this blog post.
FREE FILE #2: Dessert Tub Labels!
If you are going to have dessert tubs, you need dessert tub labels!
FREE FILE #3 : Time Me!
Add your email address below for a free download of the Time Me! Activity.
Thank you for the sequence game. I'm always looking for something new.
Thanks Deedee! I have a similar system – we call them Sponge Activities – they are a bit more open-ended for exploration but I like some of the games you shared! They become more interested in those as the year goes on and they are more confident in their abilities. I also like how you designate what each table does – do you feel like that cuts down on "rushers"? How do you handle friends that rush to get to that dessert?
Shoot! I thought I had responded to this already… sorry! I have a few habitual rushers. So I ask them to drop their response paper by my desk. I also talk to the masses about what quality work looks like.
My desserts are engaging, but not really THE most exciting thing in my classroom, so we have not had a problem…yet 😉
I love the idea of these tubs!! I cant wait to take some of the products I already have to make some simple changes to start this this coming January!!
What do you mean when you say you pull the numbers off and move them down. (I totally get that concept, but then what does that mean for students that finish early) Table rectangle finishes early they can only pick bucket 3?
Thanks so much!!
I am also a kindergarten teacher and am looking for a new behavior chart. I found on pinterest your behavior chart. It has two kids faces on each color and starts off at amazing and goes to Oh-dear! It is so cute! I have tried to find it on your website as well as on teacherpayteacher, but I haven’t been able to come across it. Do you still have it? Is it a free download?
Hi there! Yes, you can find it in my Facebook Fan FREE file. Just go to my Facebook page (you can find the link on my blog by the social media buttons). You click on the folder and it is in there. NOTE: You can NOT see the folder if you are on a mobile or tablet. So look for it when you can be on your computer. 🙂
How do you keep your kids who are in stations from coming up to your table while you are doing small group activities? I have tried everything! Also, Do you get to every child every day in your small group?
After watching the “Mastering Centers Like a Boss” webinar, it referred to the math bundle for the number formation on dessert bin in early finishers blog. I own the small group math bundle that you and Deanna Jump made and I also bought the neat handwriting so I have the letter formations, but am looking for the number formation cards. I am unable to find the number formation cards in the bundle I bought. Any suggestions?
They are in the Guiding Kinders Math Curriculum.
I love your idea for early finishers and how you have it set up in your classroom. I would love to get it set up in my kindergarten classroom this year. I wonder if you have this ideas as a packet on your teachers pay teachers site? I would love to have my room mom set this up for me before school starts this year. I just don’t know where to begin, or how to instruct her. Can you help me out? I like to change things up for my kiddos and I think this would be great for them. I’ll be looking for your reply. Thank you! Have a great rest of your summer!
I’m sorry I missed your question earlier. I don’t have the idea of early finishers on TpT, but the blog post will link you to the resources you may want to consider putting in your early finisher bins. Does that help?
Do you allow more than one students to work together on these tub activities or are they to take it back to their seat and work individually? I love the idea.
No, the students share the bins, so there could conceivably be 4 students working at their early finisher bin at one time.
Hi DeeDee. I love this idea of Dessert Tubs. Im trying to print them out, but I only see one icecream cone and it already has a green shape. There are no other pages. Can you send me them all or just a blank icecream cone and I’ll make my own shapes?? Thanks.
If you download the free file that is in the blog post, they are all there for you to edit. 🙂