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Fast Finisher Challenges that Are NOT Busywork: The Imagination Station

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Show Notes:

As a new teacher, one of my biggest challenges was figuring out what to do with those kiddos who constantly seemed to finish their work early.

Inside this episode, I share the story of Blake, that child who challenged and taught me how to truly serve these kiddos. I can see his face as clear as day, even now, because he was one of those kids who was lightning smart (and wait until you hear about his mom and dad)! πŸ™„ 

But here's the thing:

I see so many fast finisher activities that are designed to just keep kids busy, like asking them to write down 5 things that begin with the letter A.

I’m guilty of this myself, but I always thought that there must be a better way to use children’s time. I’ve often felt like there is a true lack of imagination in our curriculum in schools.

I don’t think the answer to supporting and enriching children’s minds is to give them more of the same work.

I believe that children need more opportunities to flex their creative muscles, to think outside the box, to investigate and explore topics that may not be part of the curriculum, but that light kids up and inspire them to want to do more, be more, and think more expansively.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Blake and how we might be able to infuse more imagination and creativity into opportunities for children to explore inside our classrooms when they are finished their regular classroom work.

I knew that whatever I created, it had to be simple and easy for teachers to implement and manage, and I knew it needed to be ultimately tantalizing for kids.

What I’ve come up with is a resource called the Imagination Station, and I’m going to give you some examples of the kinds of things that kids can do at this station.

However, a word of warning: I think that once you learn about these mini-challenges, you might want to do them with your whole class when you have a little extra time or when you need a filler activity. Or, you might even want to use the Imagination Station as a literacy center.

Let’s talk about some of the kinds of challenges inside the Imagination Station, which you can put on display inside your classroom using a small pocket chart.


Inside this Episode, You Will Learn:

  • What Blake and his scary-smart parents taught me about how to manage brilliant kids in my classroom.
  • Why we need to re-think the kinds of work we give to these students.
  • How you can easily incorporate more imagination into fast-finisher activities for your students (and why these activities add a fresh perspective and can empower your entire class).
  • The true value of imagination as an essential skill for goal-setting.
  • 3 step-by-step mini-projects you can use in your classroom right away!


Resources and Links Mentioned Inside this Episode:


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I hope you have a fabulous week, and remember: just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one!

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at and at

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