"I'm done! What do you want me to do now?"

  • Early Finishers can work on a collaborative project, such as a community weaving or mural. 
  • They can help sort crayons or other supplies, tear paper off crayons, etc. ("Materials Maintenance")
  • Drawing Challenges: 
100 Silly Drawing Prompts To Engage Your Students, Abby Schukei, theartofed.com
Collection of Mystery Grid Drawing Activities; Pinterest 
Sketchbook Ideas from ArtEdGuru.com 

  • Zentangles
  • "How To Draw" books available for early finishers to work on in their sketchbooks
  • Origami books 
  • Use dry erase mini-boards (go to Home Depot and have them cut a shower board up for you) for the early finishers to draw on. You can also use plastic plates for dry erase drawings. 
  • For middle and high school: have the students write artist statements and/or self-assessments.
  • Art tutorial printables from Pinterest, such as grid or value drawing, etc.
  • Read about art in Scholastic Art magazine. 
  • Help a friend
  • Artist Trading Cards
  • Stations for early finishers such as "Collage," and "Building" with cardboard or mat scraps. "Still Life" drawing, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Play Dough, etc. 
  • Students can add a border to their drawings or write a story about their drawings. 
  • Stencils and texture rubbing sheets are engaging at an "I'm Done" station. 


Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 29 EARLY FINISHERS, by Cassie Stephens

Visual Rubric from Lindsay Mouyal's elementary classroom:

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols


Chris Screws, high school, Jefferson Cty. said...

I always had a list of alternative projects ready to go. The projects may be related to the current assignment, but more often than not they were further exploration of a previous concept. Occasionally I would have students who were fast workers who had their own ideas. If the ideas were appropriate and feasible, I would allow them to proceed. These secondary projects can also be no-messy, “fun” projects like simple origami or scratch art. Also providing diagramed instructions would be helpful since you will more than likely not be able to provide individual instruction.

Mr. T. R. Wilhelm, elementary, Baldwin Cty. said...

This is my twentieth year. I have taught high school art for twelve years and currently teach elementary art. A big issue as an elementary art teacher is keeping the students on task and not straying from the objectives of the project. In other words, "following directions". Of course, that becomes more of a challenge the younger the students are. Regardless, I expect my students to follow the directions I give whether we are painting, holding a paint brush a certain way, cleaning, etc. As a high school art teacher, the biggest issue was also keeping the students focused but in a different way. The challenge was to make art class and the projects relevant to their interests and life. "How is art going to contribute to your life?"

Sharon Christman, retired, elementary/ college said...

I moved my students ahead when several finished early so they could be going in to the next project. I know I have the same attitude, "don't waist my time with BUSY work just because I finish early!" It looks like punishment to them for being on task to then have to wait while the others finish before they can move on to the next project. Go ahead and introduce the next lesson to ALL and let them get started and those who take longer can continue with the project they are working on. It gets a bit crazy because sometimes you have multiple lessons with many different supplies out but it always solved my discipline problems and everyone was on task at all times. OR another way to solve the problem: If that does not work then find out what that student's interest is and tailor make a project for him or her. This happened to me in Senior Art Studio Summer camp at the art museum. I had one boy that always finished early and then started causing problems (mischief). I sat down with him and found out he loved music so we began a project together on his interest and every time he finished a project early with the group he could not wait to get to his special project. Students also love it when you take the time out to get to know them and what makes them TICK. BUT remember, at first they may resist you but keep trying and usually they will open up a bit to you.

A.P., high school, Baldwin Cty. said...

#1 Advise: Keep students busy!!!! Students finish projects at different times and the early finishers need to have something to do to keep them busy. I have an assortment of "fun" art projects that I have early finishes complete. The early finishers recieve a grade for the fun project, but the others students are not punished because they don't get to the extra project (they receive no grade for the extra project). Idle hands cause discipline problems.

Mrs. Jill Ritchey, high school said...

There are a variety of strategies that start at the beginning of the year in the classroom procedures guidelines where I specify work that is finished early generally receives a poor grade. Work where 100% effort is given daily and time is taken generally receives a higher grade. If a student bugs me every 5 seconds to be finished I remind them I count off for those who want to be finished just to be finished and give them some specific things to work on and tell them to work on for at least 30 more minutes without asking if they are done. I eek out as much as I possibly can from them before accepting it. I also provide rubrics and checklists which specify what I will be looking for in grading and if they went over it since I will count off. Generally, to discourage laziness and encourage patience and best effort. Many times, they just don't see what I see so I have to give them specific things to improve on. I notice in the higher levels they are able to see what needs to be fixed before asking, but in Art I they generally don't, and you can't fault them for that other than being specific on what to work on to improve.
Early finishers I start on the next upcoming project. They feel important since they are ahead of the class. I also give lots of sketch assignments. Maybe have some quick exercises or handouts to give early finishers for practice credit if they are not into starting the next assignment or if you need to demo and explain parts of it first. Or I have them run errands for me or help out in the classroom (cut paper, organize things, etc) or ask if they have something else to work on for a little bit of their choice, other homework. If after all that they are still causing problems then that is a discipline issue to contact parents or administrator since they have enough options to choose from but still choose to disrupt others and I would tell the student that.

G. J., elementary, Baldwin County said...

This is my first year trying out a more TAB style art classroom so my classroom management and discipline have changed. More of my students are on task and they each have to do a self-evaluation at the end of every project. This puts more responsibility on the students to be on task and work to the best of their ability.