Sunday, April 7, 2013

Challenge Notebooks

Early finishers ... ya gotta love those little rascals that are ALWAYS done early and then immediately bugging asking you what they should do next.  I've tried quite a few different ideas for early finishers since I started teaching 3 years ago.  My first two years I had activity bins with puzzles, games, and extra learning centers they could use when finished early, in addition to silent reading.  These worked *okay* and I do still have them in my room, but ultimately I found the kids got bored with them and ended up in trouble.  They also didn't work great for kids who finished something 2-3 minutes early (not enough time to get out an activity, but more than enough time to get into trouble!)

After Christmas break this year I started giving my students "Challenge Notebooks".  They receive this booklet Monday morning and have the whole week to work on it.  I allow them to work on it for morning work 3 times a week (my kids are allowed in the room 15 minutes before the bell), when they finish early at ANY time, during bathroom breaks, etc.  I will also give them class time to work on select practice pages if they pertain to a certain lesson.  If they finish the notebook by Friday, they get an extra visit to the prize box.  On Friday I collect them to see how the kids did, and will sometimes attach a note to their parents if I noticed the notebook is mostly empty and they have not used their time wisely during the week.  While there are a few students that seem unmotivated by the notebooks (they'd prefer to read, which is always an option!) most of my kids LOVE them!  If they have even 30 seconds to spare, they whip those babies out which I love!

I create many pages for the notebook myself, so that they go along with what we are studying.  For a while I considered creating a resource to sell in my TpT store, but eventually decided against it.  There are so many adorable resources I come across in bloggy land that are just so perfect to stick in the notebooks.  I see no need in creating extra work for myself when there are so many talented teachers out there to borrow from!  I've decided each week to offer the pages I DO create for free, and provide links for the resources I find and will be using.  This week my kids will be working on ...

Click above for the pages I created.  I always attach the above cover page to the front of the notebooks.  

I found this little jewel in the Bunny Blog Hop!  This FREE resource was created by Nicole from Teaching's a Hoot and is packed with great practice pages!

I LOVE Lisa's (from Growing Firsties) Common Core Crunch series.  These Common Core aligned printables are adorable and provide meaningful practice with key skills.

I purchased the above book from Amazon.  I use my "Draw-It" page (found in my free pack above) and cut/copy one animal to the top.  The kids practice drawing it on the bottom of the page.  This is *probably* their favorite activity each week!

There you have it ... that's what will be keeping my little rascals early finishers busy this week.  I'll be posting this each Sunday, so check back if you're interested.  I'd also love to hear what great early finisher ideas you all have!  Have a SUPER week :)

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. I love your challenge notebooks! Thanks so much for sharing them! I'll be using them this week!
    Rambling About Reading

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  3. Hi Amanda - how cute is your blog?!?! I just found you and am your newest follower. I love zebra print and especially your name. ( It's my daughter's name that I had picked out when I was 9 ) LOL. Cute stuff!
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

    1. Hi Victoria! I'm so excited you found my blog ... I saw your CUTE ocean unit in the TpT newsletter this week!!! We've got a marine life unit coming up to go along with our Sea World field trip, so it caught my eye! And yayyy, all Amanda's are awesome ;)

  4. Thanks for a GREAT freebie! AND for the shout out! You are a sweetheart, girly!
    Growing Firsties

  5. What a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing your challenge notebooks!
    Pirate Girl's Education Invasion

  6. Great idea! Thank you for sharing. I love your blog design and title. Super cute!

    Literacy Spark