How to Set Up an Effective Kindergarten Morning Routine


The first moments after students arrive in the classroom are some of the most important minutes of the school day. The way your students enter the classroom can either set the tone for learning or create a bit of chaos.  Arrival time is also when you are being pulled in many different directions, so it can feel daunting to keep students engaged in purposeful activities until you’re ready to begin the day.  The key to a smooth transition to learning is an effective kindergarten morning routine.  In this post, I’m sharing five steps to help you create a morning routine that you and your students will love!

How to set up an effective morning routine

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Kindergarten Morning Routine

Step One: Choose Simple Tasks and Activities

The best morning routine is one that can run without you.  Ideally, students will learn to take care of their morning tasks with minimal adult support.  This will free you up to take care of other things that typically pop up first thing in the morning: Parent questions, phone calls from the office, students with big feelings, you name it!

The key to an efficient morning routine is simplicity!  If your morning routine has too many moving parts, there will be more room for hiccups that require your attention.  Build a routine that requires minimal prep work and clean-up time so that your morning routine doesn’t become a stressful part of the day.  The goal is to have a smooth arrival procedure that will set the tone for the rest of your day!

Step Two: Create Visuals

Once you have decided on your simple morning routine, you’ll want to create visual supports for your class. Student visuals are important throughout the school day, and arrival time is no exception! By using visuals as part of your kindergarten morning routine, students can be more independent.  They can come into the classroom, check the visual reminders, and then take care of their morning tasks.

Step by step morning instructions with actual photos

When possible, consider taking actual photos of the steps in the morning routine as you create your visual supports.  This will help students take care of their tasks more easily. For example, a photo of the take-home folder being placed in the correct bin would be more informative than an illustration.  It also provides positive reinforcement to the students that they are “doing it right,” so they are less likely to seek that confirmation from you. 

Step Three: Use Morning Tubs

The next element of a smooth morning routine is an activity for students to complete independently. I think morning tubs are the best option for this!

When I mention morning tubs, I am not talking about learning activities and worksheets placed in plastic bins. Instead, I am referring to open-ended and purposeful play. I suggest filling morning tubs with activities such as snap cubes, building blocks, or other manipulatives. These morning tubs are perfect for students to explore at their seats.  There are many reasons why I suggest that teachers use morning tubs instead of seatwork as part of the kindergarten morning routine.  

First, morning tubs require little to no ongoing prep.  Once you’ve set up your morning tubs, students can take charge of pulling them out as they arrive in the morning. They can be cleaned up and put away just as easily.

Student playing with stacking blocks in morning tub

Next, morning tubs provide opportunities for purposeful play.  While academics are vital, there are plenty of opportunities for literacy and math instruction during the day. There are far fewer opportunities for students to practice cooperation, sharing, and other social skills.  These skills are just as vital as academics but can be harder to fit into the classroom in an intentional way. This is why I love that students can have a few minutes to play cooperatively with their peers using the morning tub activities.

Finally, morning tubs are flexible and open-ended.  When students have morning seatwork, it adds the early finisher element to the morning routine.  Instead, morning tubs can be used indefinitely, which is helpful when you are being pulled in five different directions first thing in the morning. You can feel confident in knowing that your class will be engaged until you are ready to move on.

Step Four: Have a Morning Meeting

A morning meeting is a great way to bring your morning routine to a close. This gives you an opportunity to welcome your students to class and formally start your day.  This can help students switch gears and get ready to learn.  

Morning meetings also give students a chance to practice sitting at the carpet together, asking questions, and sharing with the group.  This is great for building classroom community!  

Two individual morning routine visual schedules

Step Five: Repeat!

The final step in establishing an effective classroom morning routine is to make it predictable.  It’s important to repeat this routine daily so that students can learn to independently navigate the morning tasks.  As you establish and repeat a morning routine that works for your class, the students will thrive on the predictability. A simple routine can go a long way when it comes to classroom management!

Printable Visuals for Your Kindergarten Morning Routine

Are you ready to set up an effective morning routine that you can stick with?  I have created a set of printable visuals that can be used during your morning routine.  This resource comes with large cards that can be displayed for the whole class on an easel, pocket chart, or whiteboard.  It also comes with a smaller version that is perfect for individual picture schedules that stay on a student’s desk or staff clipboard.  

If you would like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Morning routine visual cards and lists

Save these Tips for Kindergarten Morning Routine

I hope these tips are helpful as you set up a morning routine in your classroom.  If you’d like to refer back to these tips later, be sure to save this post! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest.

How to Set Up an Effective Morning Routine for Kindergarten


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