As a student, I was rarely the first to complete my tests or in-class exercises, but when I was, I held onto my work until it was collected. Why? Because I didn’t want to be “rewarded” with more work; I didn’t want to select a time-killing ditto from the teacher’s filing cabinet.
If I didn’t want to work on dittos while the rest of the students completed their work, I know that my students don’t either.
I consider all 10 of the activities below to be creative, engaging and meaningful. Here’s the rule I used when compiling this list: If I wouldn’t enjoy working on the activity myself, it didn’t make the cut.
10 Engaging Activities for Students Who Finish Work Early
All you need is a newspaper article (or any form of print media) and a Sharpie. Say something about yourself by blacking out all of the words you don’t intend to use in your sentence.
Write a Six-Word Story
Flash fiction has been around for a while, but it was perhaps Ernest Hemingway that dazzled us with the flash-fiction concept in the 1920s when his friends bet him that he couldn’t write a complete story in six words. Whether or not it’s true, the story goes that his colleagues each dumped 10 bucks into a pot. If Hemingway’s story wooed them, he’d pocket the money. Once the money was pooled, he grabbed a napkin off the table and nonchalantly dashed off six words:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Then he slid the napkin across the table and collected what was due to him.
Using Hemingway as an inspiration, write a story in six words.
Read Whatever You Want
Let’s keep this simple: Grab any book, comic book, magazine or newspaper you like from the classroom library. Start reading!
Start with an article related to a personal interest. In that article, find a link to another article that teaches you something you didn’t know. Read that new article and write a summary of what you found interesting or what you learned.
Read a review about a movie, book, music or game that you like. Summarize the author’s opinion and write your response. Quote parts of the original review in your response.
*Another Middle School
Look up a website of a middle school that you don’t already know about. Browse the pages of their website until you have learned some things about the school. Summarize what you find. Here are some questions you might answer: What appears to be the best thing about that school? What suggestions do you have for their website that would help you learn more or make it easier to use? What do you dislike about the school based on what you see on the site?
Use Google news to find a current world news event that interests you. Summarize the article and write your thoughts about it. Be sure to quote parts of the news article you read.
*Found Poem - Read this article about how to write a found poem:
After reading it, find any webpage that you want and create a found poem from it. Write your poem and list the URL for the webpage that you used. Write a sentence or two explaining why you picked the words and phrases that you did for your poem.
*Suggestion for Class - Find a website, game or online program that you wish a teacher would use in class. Write the URL of the resource and explain why you think a teacher should use it and how they could use it.
*Make a Timeline - Use this online tool to make a timeline with at least 6 events from start to end. It can be about your life (from birth or maybe just a single season of life) or it can be about some famous person or event(s)
Get a screen capture and paste it into Word. If it’s too long to fit on the screen, copy it in parts.
*These activities all come from blogger and technology-coordinator, Mike Petty. For more ideas, be sure to stop by his blog, Classroom Games and Technology.