Sunday, July 31, 2016

Morning Work-Getting Started

Morning work is a topic near and dear to my heart. It's so important to establish a routine in the morning because it really does set the tone for the rest of the day.

Some teachers use morning work tubs or buckets as an alternative to the structured spiral review of concepts. These tubs sort of look like centers  and students are working on different things. They could be simply using pattern blocks, puzzles, letter tiles , making words with play-doh,
using cubes to build sight words or even using letters to build cvc words. 
Whatever the activity, these tub activities give students an opportunity to come in and settle into a routine. It gets them social and their brains flowing. While I love this idea as a rotation, I have some reservations about it for the beginning of the year especially. At the beginning of the year, we are establishing routines and procedures and setting the tone for the rest of the year. This method for me would work maybe toward the middle or end of the year when we are a bit more relaxed and I have gotten to know their personalities first. Jumping right into this type of morning work routine at the beginning of the year can be a bit tricky. 

Furthermore, there is little accountability from what I have experienced,  of what they are actually learning. I would prefer to use these strategies for center. If you have used morning work buckets or tubs, please do share  your experiences with it in the comments. 

Another thing you can do to warm-up in the mornings are warm-up videos. I like to use Jack Hartmann videos because they are fun and engaging and the kids love them. Check out this example: 

Again this is a bit tricky to use at the beginning of the year when you do not yet know your students. I use it mainly during our math warm-up time. There are many other fun videos on YouTube you can use in place of morning work. 

What has worked for me is a nice, quiet routine in the morning because it establishes a certain classroom environment where the students know what is acceptable and what is not. 

For example, if someone was to scream out in my classroom, everyone would turn around and look in shock just because it looks so out of place. It's not the norm in the environment. That's what setting the right tone at the beginning does. 

I would prefer to do tubs some other time during the day as free time. I could also see using tubs in a type of rotation where I swap the spiral review out in place of this for a few mornings. This will give them a break from doing the packets.

 It's definitely important to step back and examine what has worked best for you and start there. Think about which one would work best for the whole year or what would work at the beginning of the year as opposed to closer to the end of the year. 

This is an example of a  morning work page. This particular friend is still confusing counting back with counting forward. Note that this is a February month packet denoted by the little heart in the corner. We have been working on this skill and I am quickly able to tell what I may need to reteach and who still needs more help. Each packet is monthly and the clip-art is incorporated in a way to show the monthly theme.Every common core concept is covered but not all at once. It progressively increases and changes as the months go on.  This includes money, measurement, shapes, addition, subtraction, counting back and forward, adding three numbers, base 10, standard, word form, expanded form, verbs, nouns, reading comprehension, beginning sounds, adjectives, sight words, other grammar and reading topics. 

Check out these quick videos to see us in action during morning work time. Each page is numbered and tells if we are working on math that morning or reading. I walk around and help my kids. On this morning we were working on a math page. You can certainly use these for your enrichment kids. They are not limited to morning work. 

 I have always used a spiral review morning work for my students just because their little brains are active and ready in the morning and it's a great way to help them retain information they have learned throughout the week. Plus it gets them into a routine for learning so that when morning work time is done they are ready for our quick whole group and then small group. 
The spiral review packets that I use are common core aligned and integrate math and reading for each day. For the first month's packet, I usually do it all with them so that they can get in the routine and get familiar with the pattern and sequence. I usually start around the second week of school with introducing the morning work routine. The content progressively gets harder and changes minimally throughout the year and spirals through things students have learned already.
The first two months of morning work spiral through letters A-Z and numbers 1-20. It's kind of a review of kinder concepts. I let them attempt the skills on their own and then after about 15 minutes, I go over it quickly with them. At the beginning of the year, we only do one page per day but as we progress through the year, they get so use to the pattern that they are finished with the one page in like 2 minutes !  So I usually tell them to complete two or three pages for that morning. This is a good thing because it tells me that they are retaining the information that we have been learning and they are mastering concepts.

I store their morning work folders in these little magazine holders I got from Amazon. I use a lot of different folders in my class so I color code to make it easy for students. I once used the paper folders but now I use the plastic folders. They hold up a lot better.

The first grade morning work for the whole year is complete and the months from January to December are all included. You can check it out by clicking on the picture below. 

I just started a kinder morning work for students just getting ready for kindergarten. This morning work for kinder spirals through letter recognition, rhyming words and beginning sounds. 

Each packet comes with a cover page. The kids love the monthly themes. I copy my sets for the month and use folders to keep them in. That means for the whole month, I do not have to worry about prepping morning work. They are already prepped and placed in their folders for the month.I started out using the paper pronged folders but they didn't last throughout the year so I switched to  the plastic folders instead  just because they hold a lot better. I didn't have to change out folders for the whole year with the plastic ones.  My kiddos got creative and decorated all over their folders. 

You can also bind them each month if you are able to do that at your school. That would be a great way to send them home at the end of the month or use it as data to show student work. 

All else fails, just staple the monthly packets just like you see here and hope they don't rip them up before the month is over. 
After they complete a page, I usually just go around and sort of check it off to see students that are getting it and those that need more help. Then I go over it on our document camera and sometimes I allow them to check it off themselves if they get it right. 

My kids last year seemed to prefer the math pages rather than the reading pages for some reason. For topics that I did not teach as yet, I just tell them to skip or I do what I call  a "quick teach". A quick teach is when I quickly brush over the topic and show them what to do since they will see the same concepts over and over each day. By doing this, they know the basics of the particular skill even before I pull out my lesson plan on it and start to do a formal lesson. I do a lot of  "quick teach" especially using number sense puzzles, at the beginning of the year. I find that it helps them to retain information even through to the end of the year.

We all know that using our lesson plan one time to teach a skill does not help much. Usually by the middle of the year they have forgotten half of what you taught them in the beginning of the year. This is why I love spiral review so much . My goal is to help them master concepts so they can have a solid foundation.

I can say that using these morning work sets each month have helped tremendously with organization, structure and academics. The kids love them also. By the end of the year, they start telling me how easy it is for them. Check out the reviews on it from my store. A lot of teachers have used this morning work bundle and have told me how much they love and appreciate it. 

I seriously went back and forth about purchasing this that I did and I downloaded and printed October...I really must say I do not regret the purchase! It is absolutely perfect pace for quick morning work or bell ringer. I am also using it in my special education resource room as a quick independent work for students. Perfect for homework too! Thank you Kadeen!


I just started morning work last month, and I am addicted! I love how my students start learning just a couple of steps inside my door in the morning! Thanks!

-Amanda B

One of the best resources I have purchased!!! THANKS!!!!

-Shannon B

Sample pages from different months.

Click the link below to get the mega all year bundle at a discounted price including free updates for whenever I update it. Please note that it has been completely updated recently. 

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