If you’re a classroom teacher to primary learners you probably already know that mornings can be a crazy time. As students arrive for the day and begin filing into the classroom, your daily routine can either make or break the day! If you’re ready to say goodbye to chaotic mornings, come along to see how carefully selected morning work activities will be a total game-changer!
From Chaos to Calm
What do your mornings look like in the classroom? If the day starts off with a bang, and not in a good way, you’re not alone! We’ve all been there before. Maybe it goes something like this…
Students are chatting away, backpacks are being tossed around, and the volume creeps up. Before you know it, you’re correcting kiddos left and right and finding yourself feeling a bit frazzled.
Without a routine, it can set the day up for a rough start! I recommend avoiding the morning chaos with a set of procedures and fun morning work activities that will help everyone settle in for the day. Starting on a positive note will make all the difference in how the rest of the day plays out!
Before you get started crafting your perfect morning routine though, you’ll want to think about your current pain points. For example, here are some of the things that always came up in my classroom:
- students wanting to chat and visit upon arrival
- students walking in without putting their backpacks and supplies away first
- students forgetting to turn in their homework
- students are not sure what to start on when they arrive
- not having time for lunch count, attendance, and other classroom “housekeeping” tasks
Tweaking these few things could make a huge difference in your classroom. Taking the time to think about what the main issues are can be super helpful when planning your own morning work routine makeover!
Get Started with Morning Procedures
Once you’ve established your primary pain points in the classroom, focus on implementing procedures to help smooth them out. In my classroom, it was always very important to me to ensure that our morning routine allowed for some social time to welcome students for the day, while also setting us up for success. You can balance this out by creating a timeline. It doesn’t need to be exact, or down to the minute, but think about the things you’d like to see happen and in what order. A calming routine might look something like this:
- The bell rings and students line up.
- The teacher greets each student at the door and welcomes them inside.
- Students hang up their backpacks and grab their homework folders.
- Students turn in homework and greet each other as they grab their morning work.
- Students sit down at their desks and get started on the assignment.
- The teacher takes attendance, lunch count, and preps for the day as students work.
In my room, one of the most important things to me was facilitating student independence. Because of this, I was careful to choose activities and procedures that gave my students opportunities to be independent self-starters. Providing children with opportunities for independence promotes confidence and personal growth. Your ideal routine might look different, so feel free to adjust as necessary! The main idea is to think about what is most important to you and focus on adding those things to your morning procedures.
Carefully Select Morning Work Activities
Aside from promoting independence, 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! One of the ways I liked to make my own morning routine more successful was by being super selective about the activities I chose for this time.
Ideally, our morning work activities should be mostly review and cover a variety of math and language arts topics in a spiral review. Since I worked with young students, I always liked to make sure our morning work had a sprinkle of holiday or seasonal fun too! This helps keep engagement high and create excitement about our daily activities.
Additionally, since independence was my main goal, I intentionally chose activities that students could complete on their own. At the beginning of the year, this will take some time, so be patient. But once students know the routine and a general idea of what to expect in their morning work activities, you should be able to have your whole group humming right along!
What’s the secret to achieving this you ask? Predictable morning work activities are key!
Use Predictable Morning Work Activities
What I mean by predictable morning work is activities that follow a familiar format. If you’d like to free up some time in the morning for you to complete some tasks at your desk, you’ll want students to be able to dive right into their morning work. For example, you won’t want to choose a worksheet or activity that will require in-depth instructions. Instead, focus on activities that students will be able to read through and complete on their own.
In my room, we used monthly morning work pages that followed a predictable format each day. Each page focuses on a handful of math and language arts skills and uses a spiral review of the material. It’s great to start the day with an important review and using worksheets that have a similar pattern of directions each day will train students on what to expect. These things will help them become highly independent very quickly.
These activities might include things like tracing and writing numbers, working with CVC words, correcting sentences, and counting. These skills are super important in first grade and definitely a good use of your morning work time!
Taking a Closer Look at Monthly Morning Work
Curious about what this looks like in practice? Let’s take a closer look! Inside my year-long bundle of morning work resources, you’ll find 23 printable pages and 23 digital activities for each month. Every month uses a fun, seasonal, or holiday theme and focuses on important concepts. I also have a more generic version of these pages if you’re looking for non-holiday/seasonal-themed pages.
Each page follows a familiar format and covers a few important math and literacy topics. For example, in September, students focus on things like:
- Adding zero, one, two, and three
- Subtracting zero, one, and two
- Basic skip counting
- Counting tally marks
- Word families
- Rhyming words
- Short vowel work
- Writing sentences correctly with proper capitalization and punctuation
The pages use simple and easy-to-read instructions too, so you can count on kiddos being able to decode the directions on their own. I love knowing that my students start every day with a review of the most important math and ELA skills we’re focusing on! Not to mention, students feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as they work through each page all on their own.
Digital Morning Work Activities
Many teachers love using printable worksheets for morning work, but there is a place for digital activities in your morning routine too! Whether you’re a teacher running a 1:1 classroom, someone who wants to use technology more regularly, or simply reduce paper use, digital activities can come in really handy.
In my classroom, I had students fill out the paper version of our morning work activities as I detailed above. Once everyone was finished, we transitioned to our morning meeting and I projected the digital version on the board and walked through each section with students.
This is such a great way to help students identify their own mistakes and correct them. You can lead this activity or call on students to volunteer and make this a community-building activity too!
Another great option for the digital format is to use it as homework or assign it to students who were absent. No matter how you decide to use the digital activities, I loved having this extra option for even more learning!
Yearlong Activities for Your Morning Work Routine
Once you’ve found great morning work activities, it really can make all the difference in your daily routine. I loved using monthly morning work activities that used a spiral review of important concepts because it took the guesswork out of planning this part of our day. Having a print-and-go option or a no-prep digital activity was a lifesaver for busy days in the classroom!
If you want to try a free sample of these morning work activities, check out this freebie! Inside you’ll get 10 practice pages and 10 Google Slides, so you can test out each version with your students. Once you decide on your morning routine procedures and select your morning work activities, you’ll be in great shape for less chaos and more learning on a daily basis.
And if you’re ready to implement a simple, no-prep option for your morning work every day, check out the full-year bundle here! You’ll get access to 10 months of printable morning work pages along with Google Slides options to allow for even more customization. Streamline your morning routine and make the most of this important time in the classroom!
Save These Morning Work Activities
Pin these morning work activities and ideas on your classroom Pinterest board to keep track of them!