“I’m through. What do I do?”

It’s those 5, 10, or 15 minutes when students finish assigned work early that can send a teacher into an internal panic.  Instead of panic, be prepared.  We have pulled some of our ready-to-use ideas together to help you fill those last few minutes with meaningful content.

Independent Activities for Early Finishers:

Large Group Activities:

  • Online quiz games in MyStudiyo and PhotoPeach
  • Start a book.  Check out these read-aloud recommendations for elementary and for older students.
  • Explore art in Google Maps. Find some ideas in this SchoolArts article.
  • Play Art Toss Ball, Art Memo, Flexible Hexabits, Pictionary on the whitboard, Sculptorades, Zolotopia, or Teledraw.
  • Art Vocab quiz. Give a choice is it 1, 2, or 3 (list possible answers on board with corresponding #).  All hold up number of their answer (all participate)
  • Music & art integration ready-to-use resources.
  • Show a short video from our YouTube and Vimeo favorites
  • Free Online Games by Artsology or explore these other online art games
  • Magic Pocket Name
  • Show Slideshare “Brilliant Examples of Photo Manipulation Art
  • Put up an art print and have students describe what they see in writing. Another option for younger students is to work in groups and generate a list of words they think describes the picture.
  • Hold up artwork for a show and tell
  • Critique artwork
  • Quiz about art concepts to get to line up.
  • Sculpture Freeze:  Have your students use their body to create a human sculpture.  Get specific by asking for a particular type of pose (symmetrical/asymmetrical, precarious/stable, seated/standing)
  • Play Simon Says for line vocabulary.  Students use their bodies to create a line (vertical, horizontal, spiral, diagonal, etc).
  • Eye Spy.  Ask students to find examples of art throughout the room or create your own Eye Spy.
  • Swat Game.  Write art terms on the board. Group the students in teams. Read a definition for an art term that is listed on the board.  Armed with fly swatters, the first student to “swat” the correct word wins the round.  Fly swatters are then handed to next student on team to continue play.
  • Sing some art songs (Red, Yellow, Blues You Tube Video)
  • Show an art teacher-created video from Art Class with Ms S or Fugleflicks
Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee

The founders and primary authors of this blog are Hillary Andrlik and Theresa McGee, who both teach elementary art in the Chicagoland area. Hillary has been teaching art since 2002, received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. Theresa has been teaching since 1997 and received her bachelors degree from Northern Illinois University and masters from Benedictine University. In 2008, Theresa became a National Board Certified Teacher. Both Hillary and Theresa have earned the honor of being Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Together, Hillary and Theresa have presented at Illinois Art Education Association Conference on topics ranging from classroom management to technology and each have presented on numerous other occasions for other organizations.


  • November 6, 2010


    It has been a very long week and when I first got the email alert for this post I thought it was for teachers who have said “i’m through, now what?” Thanks for inspiring with some great ideas.

  • November 27, 2010

    Nancy Walkup

    Theresa: How would you like to write this as an article for SchoolArts? It would work well for the Managing the Art Room column?


  • July 18, 2011

    Mr. Empey

    A lot of great ideas here, thanks for sharing!

  • March 8, 2012

    Gwen Martin

    You have given me several ideas that will help with the wandering time in the library. Those that efficiently make choices vs those that grab the first thing they see when told to line up are often just wandering about. The younger ones love Highlight but get bummed when they can’t do the puzzles. Good ideas. Thanks. Mind you, I think Bellafore has an idea, ideas for teachers who say “I’m done, now what do I do.”

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