I admit that when it comes to early finishers, I have been pretty lazy in the past. "Read a book" or "finish your other work" were my go-to responses to students. Math and reading centres were never really an issue because each of my centres contain several choices so students can never really finish the centre.
The biggest problem I had was during science. Since our province came out with new report cards, I've really tried to focus on the science curriculum. That's why I came up with my Interactive Science Journals. I wanted something concrete that hits all the outcomes in our science curriculum. These journals specifically coordinate with the Manitoba Grade 1 curriculum, but can be used by anybody studying these science topics (senses, living things, objects & materials, and weather & seasons) in their class.
Now I know anything involving cutting and pasting in first grade can be tricky because there are some students who will finish their work in mere minutes and there are other students who will take the entire class (and then some) to finish. What am I going to do with those students who finish early??
I was inspired by Reagan over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits and her Expert Tubs. She puts recycled math centres in them so students can do them when they are finished their work. I wanted to do something similar, but for science! Enter: Explore Tubs! These tubs will change four times throughout the year when we change science units: senses, living things, objects & materials, and weather & seasons. I will have six tubs for each unit. The activities in the tubs will be hands on, explore-based, and fun!
I made some super cute labels featuring real-life pictures from Dollar Photo Club and fonts by KG Fonts. You can download the labels for free here. I put them on these white dollar store tubs for now, but I think I will find some clear tubs with lids. (The labels are large--they are two to a page. If you want smaller labels you can just print two pages on one. Then the labels will be a quarter of a page.)
I came up with a list of rules for my Explore Tubs as well. We will do lots of discussing and modelling at the beginning of the year to go over these expectations. My first rule is that students must finish their work first and it must be done completely, accurately, and neatly. I will check it and if I feel a student rushed through it, I will make them redo it. I am mean like that. Next I only want a maximum of four students per tub, so it's not too crowed and they can share the materials easier. Also I don't want them to change tubs that day. Stick with the one. They can (and must) choose a new tub the next day. I'm not going to keep track of this (they will probably do that for me), but I want them to try each of the tubs and not just do the same one each day! It gives the other students a chance to try each tub. And lastly, everyone at the tub helps clean up! Simple I think.
You can download a PDF of my rules (without the logo) here or an editable Powerpoint version of the rules here if you want to change anything.
These centres are meant to be fun, engaging and curriculum-based activities. They are there to enrich students' learning of topics we are covering in class. Not every student will get to the tubs every day and not every student will want to explore every tub. But it gives them a few choices of activities they can do that are curriculum-based. These will also be perfect for those days when you have a surprise assembly and you get back to class with only 10 minutes left and not enough time to do the original lesson you had planned... let EVERYBODY go to explore tubs! Pick a table randomly or use your lucky duck sticks to let each student choose which tub they want to complete.
I think these are going to be so useful for me and so fun for my students! I will be back in the next couple ideas to share what I am going to put in my six Explore Tubs for the Five Senses. I hope to share ideas for the other three units in the future too.
Happy Friday everyone!