We all know the feeling of trying to teach a room full of sleepy kids. When we consider all of the things demanding our students’ attention when they get home – such as sports practice, video games, TV shows, phones, or even helping take care of younger siblings – it makes perfect sense that they arrive very tired in the morning. Morning work is a great way to gradually wake students up and get them ready for the day.
We can respect students by starting out the day in a gentle way, but still have high expectations for them by keeping morning work rigorous. I promise, it’s possible to do both! We want to set our students up for success each day, and morning work helps us do that.
Benefits of Morning Work
As I mentioned, there are some clear benefits to morning work. For one, It helps students get prepared for the day. It allows them to slowly wake up their brains and get energized for the activities to come.
It’s also a great time to practice and review key concepts. Use the time to review skills from the day before or prepare them for skills coming that day.
Lastly, it gives you time to prepare for the day! From attendance to greeting students at the door to answering emails, you have a lot on your plate. Use the morning time to get some of it done.
Morning Work Ideas
Ultimately, morning work should be easy for you to prepare and take little time to set up each day. Here are some activities that will help you do just that.
#1 Color By Number
Having something hands-on to start the day is a great way to gradually warm students up. Color by number activities let students ease into their work with a fun and educational activity. A huge bonus of color by number activities is that they’re very simple to check and grade – use the answer key and take a quick peak at the answers on their sheet. No one wants to spend hours grading morning work, so this is a must.
This 5th Grade Color by Number Math Resource is the perfect morning work activity. The winter-themed activities are zero-prep, so you can literally print what you need and be ready for the day. The resource includes over one hundred math questions spread over five pages. As students answer a math problem, they will color the winter picture with a certain color.
Students will practice multiplying 2-digit numbers, adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals, dividing with 2-digit divisors, and more. This resource can be used during centers or as an early finisher activity as well, but I think the coloring aspect makes it a great morning work activity.
With color by number, students will practice rigorous math concepts, while also calmly starting their say. It’s the epitome of making the most of your time in the classroom and setting up students for success.
#2 Independent Reading
Independent reading is a great option for morning work because it keeps your classroom quiet and requires very little prep. During this quiet time, you can have one-on-one meetings with students, speak to a staff member if needed, or make a phone call home.
If you want to take independent reading a step deeper, provide students with the opportunity to write a book review when they finish reading. You can then hang the reviews near your classroom library, and other students can read them for ideas on their next novel!
Or, if you don’t mind your classroom being a bit noisy during morning work, students could meet with book clubs during this time! Allow students to create book clubs around their shared interests. Just make sure you set clear expectations for how book clubs should run.
#3 Match Board Games
Board games are another fun way to get students engaged during morning work. This is one of my go-to morning work options because students can just hop in and join a game if they come in a few minutes late. Plus, students get used to how to play, so I don’t have to repeat the rules each day – they just grab a board and start!
With the Math Board Games Resource, you’ll have a low-prep and fun way to wake students up in the morning and get them started with their day. This year-long bundle has 45 games and covers every single 5th grade math standard. You can create groups based on skills students need to practice or give students the freedom to choose the skill they want to practice. If you want to read more about how to use these math board games, check out this blog post!
#4 Missing or Unfinished Work
You can make the most of this time by having students complete unfinished or missing work. As a bonus, you don’t have to hunt students down to get them to complete missing work. Win-win!
Morning work is also a great time for students to redo an assignment if they need to. While the other students are engaged with completing their unfinished work, you’ll be available to support and scaffold as needed. This will help bring grades up and give you time for differentiation.
These morning work ideas will give you a variety of tools to make mornings meaningful in your classroom! You can rotate through the various options and find what works best for your students. Or, give students a couple of options in the morning. That’s a surefire way to increase engagement and keep your morning running smoothly.
While all of these options are great for morning work, many of them can also serve as early finisher work! For more ideas on early finisher activities, head over to this blog post.