For me, that means an "I'm Done" bin of hand-outs for students to complete on their own. My students know, if they finish early they must be meaningfully occupied or they will lose their daily participation credit.
For me, everyone gets 100% at the start of each quarter for participation, and I deduct up to 10 points for non-participation daily. Sometimes it's just 2 or 3 points for too much chatting, but most do well. 10 points off is for a student I redirect and they flatly refuse. (An email goes home too.)
Some kids though, legitimately do finish early, so the bin is helpful. They know that when I grade assignments, they need to show me their independent work too as proof of daily participation.
So what goes in my "I'm Done" bin?
- Art quotes on a single page and students illustrate the meaning of the quote around the quote. Some HERE.
- Short poems printed in the middle of a page that student illustrate around the poem.
- Print-outs of forms like cubes, pyramids, dodecahedrons, that students cut out, draw on, and illustrate. Like THIS one.
- Blank pages with a drawing prompt on the bottom of each. Many are on my sketchbook page HERE.
- Pages with a simple black and white object on it that students have to add onto and embellish. Like a rubber duck, and they draw in an unexpected background.
Over my nearly 30 years as a teacher my bin has grown and grown so students can go through the pile and pick what they like. This is also great for unexpected days out. The sub can pass out one page to each student or assign one page to the whole class. The assignments are so open ended that every child will create a different version based on their point of view. For example, one of the prompts is to trace your hand and draw the awesome cyborg parts inside as if it was an x-ray. No two drawings will be the same.
Feel free to use some ideas from my Sub Plans or sketchbook pages, but if you'd like some ready-made resources that include permission to copy or you just want to cut the spine and make your own "I'm Done" bin, visit this page and scroll down to "Sketchbooks" section. 30% off when you order direct.
Many of my resources are available through eNasco or Crystal Productions so you can use your school budget to purchase from there.