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Calm Classroom Chaos With A Great Morning Routine

Do mornings in your classroom ever feel a bit disorderly? There’s a lot going on in the primary classroom in the mornings. Chances are, you have had your fair share of chaotic mornings! But, just because there’s a lot to do doesn’t mean your morning needs to feel hectic! Setting up a solid classroom morning routine will help calm the chaos and start your day with more learning and less stress. Get ready to say goodbye to chaotic mornings!

Ahh. . . mornings in the first grade classroom. Take attendance, get the lunch count, impromptu parent meetings, help students get settled, and jump into lessons. . . you know the drill! Mornings in the classroom can feel pretty wild at times. But thankfully, I have a solution friends! Today we are going to dive into how morning routines will help set a positive tone for the day and set your students up for success.

How Can A Morning Routine Tame The Chaos?

If you work with young students, you surely already know that they can be an easily distracted bunch! First thing in the mornings they are excited to see their classmates, maybe a little groggy and typically very chatty. This, in combination with your morning to-do’s, can make for a world of chaos in the classroom. I don’t know about you, but this always brought a lot of stress to my day.

Instead of just trying to “make it through” the morning, I highly encourage you to consider setting up a morning routine. Teaching students a routine that is both functional and simple to follow will save your sanity and tame the morning chaos!

Implementing a morning routine in your classroom will give your students the chance to be independent self-starters. Providing children with opportunities for independence promotes confidence and personal growth. A solid morning routine will also create structure and predictability in your day, lowering stress levels for you and your students. All of these things help to start your day off on the right foot and lay the foundation for a great day of learning!

Not to mention, morning routines are the perfect time to sneak in a review of your curriculum on a daily basis. Win-win! Let’s get to it!

Where Should I Start With A Morning Routine?

Before you do anything, take a moment to think about the things you need to get done in the morning. This might be things like attendance, lunch count, and any other school-specific requirements. Take a moment to jot those down and think about how long they take.

Next, think about things you would like to get done first thing in the morning. Would it be helpful to review your lessons first thing and make sure you’re ready to go? Do you like grading homework assignments or work from the day prior first thing? Think about what you would like to do that would enhance your teaching and improve your day. Jot that down too!

Now that you have this information, you can begin building a plan. Let’s say you figured out you need 5 minutes right off the bat for daily “to-do’s” and then another 10 minutes to get yourself organized afterward. So we are talking about 15 minutes first thing in the morning you need to plan for. Knowing the time you need to fill will help you choose activities to fill your morning routine.

Start Planning Your Morning Routine

Now that you have your time requirements figured out, let’s start filling them! First things first, think about classroom greetings. In my room, I always felt it was important to be present as my students enter the room for the day. Plus, I knew that students came to school with lots on their minds and were eager to speak to me and each other. Because of this, I stationed myself at the door during arrival time. Students were taught from day 1 that after entering they had a few specific tasks they needed to take care of on their own. These tasks included unpacking, turning in their homework or folder, putting away their lunchbox or making their lunch choice and grabbing their supplies for morning work.

Once they completed these tasks they went to their desk to get started on morning work. During this time, our class voice level was whisper. This allowed students to greet their friends and chat a little while working. If you try to limit that then you are forcing students to choose between friends or work. I think we all know which they will choose.

While students are working you have a block of time to take care of all those morning tasks that need to be done. The key to making this all work is to make sure that the morning routine you set up for your students takes the same amount of time or just a little longer than all the tasks you need to do. Otherwise, you are faced with the dreaded question “I’m done! Now what?” Also, the students’ morning work should be something they can do independently so that you don’t spend your morning answering questions instead of submitting attendance.

Choose Morning Work

Morning work can be a variety of activities. Depending on the grade you teach and the time of the year it might be a center-style activity, a daily review practice sheet or a writing journal. At the beginning of the year, it’s a good idea to keep it pretty simple as kiddos are getting the hang of being more independent. But this doesn’t take long and within a few weeks, you can count on students being able to complete their morning work assignments independently.

The key to building independence is using consistent, predictable morning work that students can easily understand. In my classroom, I loved using themed morning work pages that reviewed math and language arts skills with a seasonal flair. Using worksheets that have a similar pattern of directions each day will train students on what to expect and they will become highly independent very quickly.

Whether your classroom uses print or digital morning work, be sure to use something that has a general framework or structure that repeats day after day to help students be as independent as possible!

Another thing to consider when choosing morning work is how to make it as effective as possible. Mornings are a great time to work on a spiral review of your curriculum. The morning work pages that I used in my room included a broad overview of our ELA and math standards to ensure we reviewed key skills every single day. Take advantage of this time to reinforce what your students are learning and brush up on those skills!

Add A Follow Up Activity In Your Morning Routine

Once students complete their morning work, it’s a great idea to have another activity waiting for them. This will make sure you can accomplish your to-do’s and keep those fast-finishers engaged in an activity while the timer is still running.

The activity you choose can vary by day, but again you will want to choose something that is familiar to students and can be completed on their own. Some great ideas are:

Personally, I liked to switch off between things but my favorites were always color-by-code activities and journal writing. I love color-by-code activities because they’re a nice way to ease into the day. Coloring activities are a great way to warm up those brains! Plus, you can distribute printables ahead of time and students can seamlessly move from morning work to the next worksheet without skipping a beat.

Journals are great too because students can keep them in their desks and eliminate the need to get up during the morning routine. If I was planning on using journal prompts for our follow-up activity, I always wrote it out on the board. My kiddos knew that if there was no additional page on their desk, this means to look at the board. They would read the simple prompt, and get started writing in their journal. Kiddos can write 2-3 sentences and then draw a picture to go with them. These are fun to share with the class from time to time after the morning routine wraps up!

Transition to A MoRNING mEETing

Once our morning routine time was wrapping up, I loved to jump into our morning meeting.

In my classroom, our morning meetings were always centered around the calendar. I liked to cover a variety of math skills during calendar time and make this an active lesson that my students all participate in. This is a great follow-up to our independent work first thing in the morning! Some of the things you can cover during calendar time include:

  • Comparing Numbers
  • Skip Counting
  • More or Less
  • Shapes
  • Telling Time
  • Place Value

In addition to these skills, we always touched on the season, month, and day of the week too. I love asking for volunteers and truly making this an engaging group experience. This always seemed to get my group excited for a day of learning.

Review Morning Work Together

Another great activity to try during the morning meeting is reviewing the morning work page. I found that using a digital version of the same page was the perfect way to do this as a class.

You can project the morning work page on the board. Then run through the exercises with students while they check their work. This is also a great time to have students take turns answering so you can do a quick informal check to see how they are doing.

This is a great way to follow up on independent learning time. It makes a good wrap up the morning routine before you transition to your next activity!

Tips For Starting A Morning Routine

Before you go, I’ll leave you with just a few more thoughts and tips for getting started!

  • Give Your Kids Time To Adjust: If you’re brand new to starting a morning routine, it will take a little while to get your kids in the groove. As with anything, practice makes progress! It will take a little while for everyone to learn the expectations and rules of the daily routine, but once they have it down, your mornings will be forever changed for the better!
  • Stick With Familiar Topics: Make sure to pick a topic that your kiddos are already familiar with. The objective of morning work is to promote independence and allow for a few minutes in the morning to get situated so you can all start the day off on the right foot. This works best when the topics are review!
  • Close On A Fun Note: Whether you opt to close out your morning routine with calendar math or not, try to choose something fun that allows all your students to participate. I think closing our morning routine with a whole group activity like the morning meeting promotes a sense of community in the classroom and sets the tone for a great day!


Morning routines are fun to plan, especially once you have an idea of what you would like to include. I hope you enjoyed reading through how I ran ours and pulled a few ideas to try! It takes a bit of planning and patience, but I promise- once your students have it down, it will be SO worth it!! If you’re interested in trying out morning work in your classroom, be sure to grab this freebie to get started!

These morning work pages feature predictable directions and skills reviews to get your students started with completing morning work independently. This freebie comes in both print and digital versions, so feel free to experiment and see what works best for your group.


If you are ready to say goodbye to morning chaos and make your mornings magical, then grab everything you need here! The Morning Work Bundle will provide you with the foundation of your morning work for the entire year.

This bundle comes in two varieties – one that is seasonal which includes seasonal and holiday images, and one that is monthly without the holiday images. Choose the option that best fits your teaching style and complies with your school policies.

First grade ELA and Math Morning Work with Seasonal and Holiday images
Monthly Morning Work with ELA and Math review for first grade

Save This Post For Later

Don’t forget to pin this post to your classroom Pinterest board so you will be all set when it comes time to plan your morning routine!


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