Preparing for Early Finishers

29 July 2015 / 6 comments

Preparing for Early Finishers

Hello! I am Tami from Kamp Kindergarten.  Where has the time gone? It is hard for me to believe the summer is almost gone and Back to School time is here.

Preparing for early finishers is an important aspect of good classroom management.  It keeps learners on task, actively engaged in their learning, and reduces discipline issues. 

Table Tubs



Using Table Tubs was one of the best ways I found to occupy my early finishers while I was working with small groups.  I bought 5 plastic storage containers at the dollar store and put various quiet activities in the tub.  I made labels for each tub with a picture of a pig working at a table.  (My class was the Pink Pigs Kindergarten.) I put ordinal numbers on the labels.  I used this as an opportunity to make ordinal numbers part of their everyday kindergarten experience.

My learners sat at 5 tables in the classroom.  They were named by color.  Each table had an assigned day that they went first during the week.  Blue table went first on Monday; Green Table went first on Tuesday; Orange Table went first on Wednesday; Yellow Table went first on Thursday; and Red Table went first on Friday.  During the rotation, the table that went first one day dropped to the back of the rotation the following day. 

The table tubs were rotated among the tables in the same manner.  On Monday, Blue Table had the first table tub, etc.  This way there were varied activities to curb boredom.

Here are some of the items I have used successfully in the tubs. 




Of course I put books in the table tubs.  I can't imagine a classroom without opportunities for children to enjoy books. I put at least 5 books in each tub, but I made sure to have different books in each tub.  I try to have some classics and some modern favorites in each tub.

A Dozen Books That My Little Learners Enjoyed

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris van Dusen

Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Clip Card Activities

I used many clip card activities in my classroom.  I would store cards and clips in zippered binder pouches.  I liked that my little learners were addressing academic standards and developing fine motor skills in one activity.

School Bus Count and Clip Cards have ten frames for the bus windows.  This is a FREE resource for your little learners.

Back to School Count and Clip Cards offer more opportunities for ten frames practice. This resource addresses quantities to 20.

Playing Cards

I put a deck of playing cards in each tub.  I removed the Jokers and face cards.  I took a Sharpie and wrote a 1 on the Aces.  I explained that card was used as the one card. I stored them in a quart sized zip top freezer bag. The students used the cards for sorting by number, color, and suit.  They would put the cards in numerical order.  When we started addition later in the year. They would pick 2 cards and use them to write an equation on individual dry erase boards. They also made up their own number games with the cards.


I put dominoes in each tub.  I also stored them in a quart zip top freezer bag. They used them for counting, matching activities, and made up their own activities with them.  When we started addition later in the year, they would use the dominoes to write their own addition equations on their individual dry erase boards.

Pattern Blocks

I also used pattern blocks and pattern block cards in the tubs.  Many times my students used the cards provided, but often designed their own pattern block creations. 

It always pleased me when they created their own activities.  I enjoyed watching them take what they were learning and carrying their knowledge to a higher level.

Printable Pages in a Protective Sleeve

I put various printable practice pages in dry erase sleeves.  This was a great way to maintain skills that we learned earlier in the year, without taking valuable instruction time from the current skills that I was teaching.   It was great for practicing writing letters and numerals, filling in missing letters in words on phonics pages, and completing addition or subtraction equations.  It gave much needed practice writing numerals on a grid first to 10, then 20 and 50, and on to 100.  Using dry erase sleeves saves paper, keeps your copy count lower, and offers your little learners a break from the pencil and paper practice.

Dollar Store Learning Cards

I used various cards that I had found at dollar stores and the Target Dollar Spot.  I put them in zippered binder pouches or quart zip top freezer bags.  The cards often have cartoon characters that the children loved.  Some of the cards I have found have numerals, letters, color words, objects to count, addition and subtraction facts, and rhyming pictures.

At different times during the year I would come across things I like to add to the tubs.  I tried to keep them interesting and fresh. 

I hope your new school year gets off to a great start for you and your learners.


  1. Tami, I love the idea of "Table Tubs". I am always looking for ideas for my early finishers! I also LOVE alliteration, so this idea is a winner for me! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Susan. I am happy you find this post useful.
      I also love alliteration. :-)
      Have a great school year!

  2. I love how you rotate the tubs to each group during the week. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.
    Teacher Treasure Hunter

    1. Thanks, Melissa! Have a great school year! :-)

  3. I love how you rotate the tubs to each group during the week. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.
    Teacher Treasure Hunter

  4. Tami,
    Thanks for sharing sooo many great ideas!


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