Depending on your class each year, finding a solid morning routine for your students can be tough, but it’s worth it! The morning routine sets the tone for your kids for the day. Part of a good routine usually includes morning work time. Today I’m sharing my favorite simple morning work ideas. I hope you’ll find something new to help make morning work effective. Before we dig into some morning work ideas, let’s start with the “why”.
Why Morning Work Time is Beneficial
If you’ve been wondering, “why do we have morning work?”, the answer might be simpler than you think! First, it helps students transition from home to school. Sometimes mornings can be chaotic, and this gives them a way to settle, focus, and get warmed up to learn. Next, it helps minimize redirecting when it’s time to start teaching. Students got a chance to chit chat a little with their friends and take a breath to calm down from the morning rush. Finally, it helps start the day with a positive activity that focuses their brains to get them ready to learn.
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Having a variety of exploration tubs makes for great morning work, especially in lower grades like pre-k and kindergarten. This type of activity also has value for English Language Learners as it gives them a safe, informal space to talk to peers. (Check out my post HERE for more about supporting ELLs). Manipulatives like Legos, bears, blocks, unifix cubes, and pattern blocks are perfect for tubs! If you feel super motivated, you can make a variety of task cards to go with each tub. But free exploration works well, too!
A good grammar warm-up gets students’ brains thinking and gives them an opportunity to review. Once students get the hang of the pattern, they will be able to complete them independently. I created some that are aligned with first grade TEKS and are only half a page per day. You can print them out for each student and make a journal or project it and have them record answers in a spiral. Whatever is easier for you!
Check them out with the links below.
- Grammar Practice for First Grade: Set 1
- Grammar Practice for First Grade: Set 2
- Grammar Practice for First Grade: Set 3
- Grammar Practice for First Grade: Set 4
- Grammar Practice for First Grade: Set 5
A morning journal can be done a few ways. An easy way is to just let students write and draw freely, one page per day. As the year goes on, they write more and more each day as the routine settles in. On Mondays, I liked to encourage them to write about and draw what they did over the weekend. Then, they got to share their journals with their friends at their tables. You can also give a writing prompt suggestion, an open ended question to answer, or a photo/book to write about.
Word Work Activities
Once you’ve established your word work routine, morning work time is the perfect opportunity for students to work on it. I personally used Words Their Way as my word work program. This program is based on sorting words, finding them in books and around the classroom, recording their sorts, and playing games with their words. You can check out my post HERE on how I managed work work in the classroom.
Book Tubs or Book Boxes
If you let students hang on to guided reading books for a bit in their book boxes, this is a great time to pull those out and let them read. I also liked to save any mini-readers we made during science and put those in book boxes, too. Revisiting texts is so important!
You can also pull books that students might not normally grab to read from the library and set them out on tables. I liked to take whatever we were studying in science and social studies, check out books from the library on those topics, and put them into themed tubs each week/month. Even though I wasn’t going to use them as read alouds, students could still look them over and enjoy them.
Games and Puzzles
I love using good sight word games, math games, and puzzles during morning work. These would be games that students had played before and were generally pretty quiet.
Here’s one of my favorite hacks: use a game you might have that’s not academic and tweak it. For games like Chutes and Ladders and Candyland, add in flashcards (letters, sight words, math facts, etc) or fluency strips and students have to read it/answer it before they can move their spaces. You can do the same thing for Go Fish. Easy peasy!
I also LOVE these puzzles that I found at Ross or TJ Maxx.
Just remember that morning work should be both useful and manageable. We don’t want it to be irrelevant and pointless. As a result, our learners wouldn’t gain anything from their valuable time during the day. We also don’t need to create a whole lot more work than necessary. Keep it simple and manageable for the long term so you’ll keep up with it!
Don’t be afraid to try a combination of activities, too. For example, students complete a daily grammar warm-up and then move on to a book box, game, or exploration tub. Variety keeps things interesting and new. I hope you got some suggestions for simple morning work that you can easily implement!