Keeping students actively engaged in quiet activities as they prepare for the school day is a challenge. It's also a great opportunity to include developmentally appropriate morning work that students will love!
There are times in the classroom when you need students to work quietly while you take care of things like attendance, progress monitoring, or other tasks. How can you keep your students busy and engaged during these times?
Play-based activities and other quiet choices are developmentally appropriate and fun while giving students a chance to naturally develop critical social skills. Kids are losing opportunities to be kids in school. Play centers are often a thing of the past but they don't have to be!
Instead of assigning paper-pencil morning work packets, consider allowing students to play in fun, educationally-based activities in morning tubs.
Hear me out – I know time is limited. Time is precious and we have a ton we need to cover in a year. But kids are only 5 and 6 once. They have the rest of their education to sit quietly at desks and work on worksheets and other assignments.
Morning tub options give students a chance to work together as a team. This means they will practice important social skills like working together, getting along, communicating clearly, etc. So often these are the skills students are lacking. The more opportunities we can give students to work collaboratively, the better.
Every morning give your kindergarteners 3 morning work choices. Keep the rules simple: work quietly (level one whisper voices), stay at your table spot, and be respectful. Students love choices and getting to be creative. You will love watching them interact with each other while you complete your morning tasks.
Morning Work Choice 1: Read a book
Each table had a rotating basket of books to read from. Some were decodables, some were “easy readers” with familiar characters, and others were picture books.
Morning Work Choice 2: Draw or Create
Put old copies and scrap paper in a drawer with miscellaneous crayons, markers, etc. in an area of the room. Students can create whatever their hearts desire with those materials. Sometimes they may even choose to complete the old worksheets, sometimes they may make fancy “crowns”, other times they may write stories and letters. When they are given the freedom to create what they want, the possibilities are endless.
Morning Work Choice 3: STEM Bins
You can rotate 4 or 5 STEM activities through your tables or groups each month. They can be themed bins, new building materials like magnet blocks, or old favorites like pattern blocks. Rotate the tubs daily or weekly to keep things fresh. I know with COVID restrictions, students may not be able to share supplies but you could do individual tubs and sanitize between uses.
Giving students choices gives them ownership over their work. Setting simple routines and consistently enforcing your expectations will keep everyone on task. It's amazing how much you can get done while students work on their morning work options. And the best part is, you don't need to make copies, assemble books, or prep the activities!
Need some alphabet stem activities to get your school year started? Click here to check out our Letter Building STEM mats.