How you start your day determines how the rest of the day will go. If you start in a positive, engaged, and happy manner the day will continue that way. But if you start rushed, stressed, etc., that is how the day will go.
Creating a happy, calm, and fun start to the day for your students is essential if you want a classroom that is full of happy and engaged students.
Each day we go through the following steps in order to have a well formed morning that is academic, social, productive, and engaging.
When my students get to school they take their book bags to their cubby and grab their folder. As they enter the classroom they are taught to do the following:
- Check their folders before walking into the door. Turn in anything that needs turned in.
- Put their folder in their classroom cubby.
- Check-In (I have a laminated sheet with their names. I will put a spelling word on the top. Then, they are to write that spelling word in the column that matches their lunch choice.)
- Go to the bathroom.
- Head to morning tubs.
Why this way?
**I make students check their folders before they enter the classroom because otherwise they always forget. I actually have a picture of a folder on the outside of my door for a few weeks. They have to high five the folder after they checked their own.
**I try to soak up anytime I can get any extra academic practice. By using their spelling word to sign in they are practicing their words each day!
I learned the idea of Morning Tubs from The Brown Bag Teacher and changed it up a little bit to fit my classroom. Read her post here!
Students come in and may choose a tub. I always have a minimum of 6 morning tub choices. They take the tub to an area of the classroom and create. There are no rules with what they are to do with the items inside the tubs. Morning tubs are done so that students can be creative, explore, imagine, and socialize. They are not created for students to complete specific tasks.
When another student enters the classroom they can either go to a tub that is already out and do morning tubs with that student or they can get their own out.
- Students know that there are only 3 students able to work at each morning tub. So, once there are three students they need to choose a new tub.
- You are not allowed to tell someone they can’t play at the tub. If they want to and there are less than 3 we play together because we are a family.
- When the bell rings you have 2 minutes to clean up your tub. If the tubs are left out or are a mess we lose them for a day. Then, a week if it happens again.
- Students get the chance to socialize first thing in the morning. By allowing them to talk to each other it cuts down on the talking once actual class time starts. By giving them time to tell their friends what they did last night, chat about the day, etc. they feel good once learning starts.
- Your day starts in a positive and happy mood. Students aren’t complaining about work they have to do. They are running into your classroom with joy and excitement to work on a morning tub.
- Students get a chance to be creative, imagine, and do things that they enjoy doing.
What do I put in the tubs?
I am in upper elementary, so I give my students lots of different kinds of options. I want the tubs to fit what the kids enjoy and love. I usually change out my tubs every two weeks!
- Math Manipulatives–Literally any of your math items are perfect for this. Kids can build with them, create things, etc. I do this with shapes, cubes, fraction sticks, and more. Plus, using these now cuts down on playing time later.
- Cards– Students love making up card games or playing card games that they know.
- Recycled Paper
- Random Recycled Materials– One time we put bottle caps in one and the students LOVED it. They were creating all types of things.
- Art Supplies
- Board Games –Ask your students’ parents to donate old board games they don’t play anymore and switch these out.
- Literally Anything, Get Creative– Last year, we put noodles into a tub. Kids made noodle creations with glue and they were so detailed and amazing. They LOVED this one. If you see something at home you are about to throw away, think can I use this in morning tubs?
- My Amazon Suggestions–You can head to my Amazon store here and check out the link called “Morning Tubs” for some more suggestions!
My students start arriving to school at 8:30, but our bell doesn’t ring until 8:50.
So, once the bell rings the students know to clean up and grab out their writing journal. On the board I place the writing prompt for the day.
I use the daily writing prompt from Erin Waters. You can check out her prompts here.
Or you can literally type up a prompt each day or just do free writing! Don’t overthink it! 🙂
Students write their answers while I finish up anything I need to do like doing attendance, pulling up my lessons, etc.
Then, I grab a flair pen (obviously) and walk around reading students writing and chatting with them about it. I choose 2 students everyday to do a writing mini lesson with in the morning.
I check each students writing and send them to morning meeting when they are done.
While they are waiting for others to get done, they chat about the question of the day with the other kids at the carpet.
- Students are getting daily writing practice.
- I am getting the chance to do a quick mini lesson with students every day.
- This gives me a breather time to get everything together so that we start our day on a positive note.
I do a 10 minute morning meeting each morning. I work hard to keep it under this 10 minutes.
Here is what my meeting looks like:
- Students are chatting about the Question of the Day while I am finishing up checking writing–As kids enter the carpet they are taught to greet each other.
- When I get to the carpet I have a few kids share the answer of the question that another student answered. So, if James talked to Amhad about the question he has to tell me Ahmad’s answer. This requires students to listen to each other instead of just worrying about their own answer.
- Quick Game or Activity–This is another way to start your day with something fun that requires the students to work as a team. These are not academic, but more team building. A quick Google Search of “morning meeting activities” will give you a ton of ideas. Students love when you repeat activities, so don’t feel like you need to do a new activity everyday.
- A Review of the Day- Children, and adults, love to know what their day looks like, so every morning we go over our calendar and our goals for the day.
- It creates a classroom culture that recognizes that we are all important, we are all a family, and we all work together.
- It starts your day with connection and shows your students that connection is important to you.
- Students get a chance to laugh and joke together.
- Morning meeting helps students feel secure and prepared for the day ahead.
Training for this Model
Morning meeting isn’t something you just start day one. It takes a TON of training. I train for morning routine for two weeks before my kids are full go.
That means each day during the first week I teach students the rules and expectations of a different section. I teach the procedure, then students show a good example and a bad example, and we practice it several times. Each time we practice we discuss what went well and what we struggled with.
Then, each day we do the same discussion before adding on another section.
Take the time to practice and review this routine so it can run smoothly all year long.