If you've taught more than one day, than you have probably heard the question..."I'm finished, what should I do now?" I've found over the course of my first four years of teaching, it is extremely important to have something ready for those students who do get done early. It helps avoid behavior issues (stemming from boredom!) and can be a great opportunity for some additional learning to take place! I thought it would be fun to share some of the ideas and resources that I have used to answer this question, helping to keep those last minutes of class productive for students who finish their math work early.

Two of the options that I encourage my speedy workers to try when finished involve a challenge! One of these is my Challenge of the Week. I actually got the idea during my first year of teaching to help answer that common question..."what should I do now?" My Challenge of the Week problem is usually the first thing my students go to if they have some extra time. I put a new problem up every Monday morning. Students have until the end of the day Thursday to submit answers. On Friday, we go over the problem and I announce the winners. You can read more about these problems on my Challenge of the Week page of my blog!

The other challenge I always have out and ready for students are my math enrichment cards. Since I use these with some of my students during math workshop rotations, some have already solved these problems. However, I still put out the cards that are from our current chapter so that any students who haven't had a chance to try them can give them a shot!

My other option for students who have completed their work is to choose a game from a bank of fun math games that I have discovered over the years. I will usually pick a couple of these for students to choose from on any given day. One of my favorites is Math 24! Our school participates in a Math 24 competition in the spring and this is a great time for my students to practice. The double wheel Math 24 is new for my 6th graders, since in 5th grade they use the single wheel cards. If you haven't played Math 24 before, the object is to find a number 1-9 to go in the center. You must be able to get each side of the wheel to separately equal 24, using any operations and each number only once. I would definitely recommend finding a few sets for you math classroom!

Two other math games that I have found students LOVE are the Product Game and the Factor Game. In the Product Game, students practice their basic facts while trying to get four consecutive numbers circled on the board. I love the strategy involved in this one. It is fun to see whether students play aggressively and "Go for the win" or if they play defense by trying to block the other player. This is really a fun way to practice basic facts!

In the Factor Game, students practice finding the factors of different numbers. Player 1 circles any number and then Player 2 must circle all the factors of that number. Players go back and forth, alternating who picks the first number. At the end of the game, each player adds up all of the numbers that they have circled to see who the winner is!

Another fun game that I learned from once of my students last year is called Siega. This is such an easy game to set up and play. All you need is a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and some sort of colored counters or paper to use as game pieces. Unfortunately, it doesn't involve a ton of math, but it does involve a ton of great strategy! Students begin the game with three counters on their side of the board. The goal of the game is to get their three counters into a straight line (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) other than the line they start in. Players take turns moving one piece at a time. Players can only move a piece to an adjacent spot (next to or diagonal) that is not already occupied. Kids absolutely love this one and are usually begging to play it!

In addition to the bank of games I've mentioned, I usually have one or two topic-specific math games that relate to whatever topic we are currently studying.

Finally, one of the last options I usually include for students who are finished with work are flash cards. I spent some time creating flash cards to meet the needs of all of my students. Whether they are still working on addition facts or have already mastered their basic multiplication facts, I now have a set of flash cards that will challenge them. Most of my students are working on either multiplication or division facts. For my students who already have these down, I created some challenge multiplication flash cards to stretch their mental math skills! If you need a set of flash cards, you can find them in my store at the following link. They are also available separately if you only need a set for a specific operation!

Flash Card Bundle

When I started teaching, one of the first questions I realized I needed to be able to answer was, "I'm done...what can I do?" These are just a few of the options I have created or found so that my students can use that extra time in a productive, fun, and challenging way. I hope you have been able take something away from this that you can put into use in your classroom! I'd love to hear any other great ideas that you have in the comments section below! Enjoy winter break everyone!

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