15 Meaningful Early Finisher Activities for 3rd Grade Students

Keeping 3rd grade students engaged and focused can be challenging, especially when some finish their work before others. Providing students with engaging activities to do when they finish their work early is essential to prevent boredom and keep their minds active. In this post, I’ll explore some of the best early finisher activities for 3rd grade students to do when they finish their work in the classroom, so you can keep them engaged and motivated throughout the school year. 🏫

15 Meaningful Early Finisher Activities for 3rd Grade Students

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Setting Up Early Finisher Activities for 3rd Grade Students

Setting up early finisher activities in your classroom is a great way to engage your students and ensure everyone uses their time productively.

Here are some tips to help you set up early finisher activities in your classroom:

Tip 1 – Set Clear Expectations

Let your students know what you expect them to do when they finish their work early. Explain that these activities are not optional and should be completed quietly and independently.

Tip 2 – Prepare Materials

Gather materials for your early finisher activities ahead of time. This might include puzzles, games, drawing materials, or educational apps.

Tip 3 – Create a Choice Board

Make a choice board of different activities your students can choose from when they finish their work early. This could be a physical board or a digital one that you display on a screen. If you need a Literacy Choice Board, you may like this one that comes in both print and digital versions.

literacy center choice boards for early finisher activities

Tip 4 – Differentiate Activities

Consider creating different activities for different ability levels or subject areas. For example, you might have math games for students who finish math assignments early and language arts activities for students who finish reading or writing assignments early.

Tip 5 – Rotate Activities

Keep things fresh by rotating the activities available to early finishers. This will prevent students from getting bored and encourage them to explore new areas of interest.

Tip 6 – Monitor Progress

Check in with your early finishers periodically to ensure they stay on task and complete the expected activities.

Following these tips, you can set up a successful early finisher program to benefit your students and improve classroom management.

15 Meaningful Early Finisher Activities for 3rd Grade Students

Early Finisher Activities for 3rd Grade Students

From reading and writing to puzzles and games, many creative and educational activities can keep 3rd grade students learning and exploring while they wait for their classmates to finish. Check out this comprehensive list that includes 15 meaningful early finisher activities for 3rd grade students.

Reading 📚

Students can choose a book from the classroom library or bring one from home to read quietly. Alternatively, your students can read magazines or even e-books! You can give your students small tasks to complete after they finish reading a book to make them more accountable. This could be writing a review, creating a book report, or answering these book talk questions. In addition to these early finisher reading activities, your students will get a kick out of the Look in a Book resources!

grammar practice with books

These Look In A Book activities will help your students with grammar skills related to verbs, adjectives, and pronouns.

Writing ✍🏽

Writing is a great way to keep students engaged when they finish early. For example, they could write about the topic they had been learning during the lesson or work on a creative writing piece, write a story, or complete a writing prompt. In addition, students can use special writing paper, or you can give them a writing journal to use throughout the year.

Brain Teasers 🧠

Students can work on brain teasers and riddles to keep their minds sharp. Try having a set of brain teasers or riddles on hand for students to pull out and work on when they finish their work early. You could also include some fun trivia questions for students to answer while they wait for their classmates to complete their work.

Drawing or Coloring 🖍️

For your more creative students, you can give them a small drawing or coloring task to complete. For example, students could draw or color a picture related to their learning in class. Alternatively, they could complete color by codes or try out a directed drawing video!

Puzzles 🧩

My students LOVE a good puzzle! This could be a challenging jigsaw puzzle or a crossword. Try having crosswords and word searches related to what you are learning in class for students to complete if they finish their work early. You may want to try letting them make their own word search or crossword for a classmate to solve.

Alternatively, you could have these Spiraled Literacy Pages on hand to give students extra practice with important literacy skills.

Online Educational Games 📱

When students finish their work early, they can play educational games on the computer or tablet related to what they are learning in class.

Check out these blog posts for lists of FREE education apps related to math and ELA skills!

Creative Projects 📋

Students can work on a creative project, such as creating a diorama or building a model of a structure they learned about in class. Alternatively, you could let students explore a topic of their choosing and create something related to that.

Independent Research 🖥️

Students can research a topic related to what they are learning in class and create a short presentation to share with the class. Or students can choose a topic they are interested in and conduct independent research using books or online resources.

STEM Activities 🔬

Students can work on a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) project or challenge, such as building a tower out of marshmallows and toothpicks or designing a simple machine. STEM projects or challenges benefit students because they develop critical thinking skills, offer hands-on learning, encourage creativity, promote teamwork, and focus on real-world relevance. These benefits can help students become more interested in the STEM field.

Math Games 🧮

Students can play math games such as math bingo, math jeopardy, or math war to practice their math skills. You can even buy long-lasting math board games to have on hand for early finishers. Plus, these games are great for indoor recess. You can find some great math games in this blog post. You also may want to print out these math matching games that will have your students practicing important math skills in a hands-on and engaging way!

Use math games for early finisher activities

Physical Activity 🧘

For your more active students, try giving them task cards that have short physical activities they can complete. This could include stretches, yoga poses, or mini workouts with jumping jacks and lunges!

Spelling and Vocabulary Practice 📃

You can never have too much spelling practice! When they finish early, your students can work on spelling and vocabulary activities, such as creating flashcards or playing spelling or vocabulary games.

Check out this 3rd Grade Vocabulary Bundle that is jam-packed with vocabulary activities for your students!

Mindfulness Activities 🧠

Students can practice mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, guided meditation, or yoga to help them stay focused and calm. My students love mindfulness coloring pages as well!

Community Service Projects 🏫

Setting up a small class project that helps the community or your school is an excellent alternative as an early finisher activity. For example, students can work on a community service project, such as organizing a food drive, creating care packages for the homeless, or writing letters to soldiers. You can have this as an ongoing class project; students can work on it when they finish their work early. 

Journaling 📔

Try giving your students an early finishers journal to use every time they finish work early. They can write about their thoughts, feelings, experiences, or what they have been learning about in class. Some students may want to draw in their journals as well. Let them record their thoughts in whichever way they see fit. You could even give them old magazines to cut out to make a collage of their ideas.  

15 Meaningful Early Finisher Activities for 3rd Grade Students

These are just a few ideas for early finisher activities for 3rd grade students, but there are many other activities that can keep your students engaged and learning when they finish their work early.

If you want more early finisher activities, check out these other blog posts!

Comment below with your favorite early finisher activity for 3rd grade students!

Tanya G Marshall The Butterfly Teacher Transforming learning for all students

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