Alternatives to Morning Work

I have always hated morning work or worksheets.  Here are the reasons:
1.  Not all kids come into the classroom at the same time.
2.  Not all kids work at the same pace or level.
3.  Some kids finish in five minutes others never get done.
4.  Sometimes I assign to much.

The list goes on.  

I was looking for an alternative to morning work!  I read a blog post from Catherine at The Brown Bag Teacher.  Her post was all about alternatives to morning work.  It was a post on Morning Work Tubs.  After reading her post, I thought "I can totally do this."  I started my own morning work tubs in my classroom.

When the kids come into the class, they put their things away and begin morning tubs.  

I keep all of my materials, manipulatives, and activities in tubs on a rolling cart in my room (because this is the only place I have to store them).  Here are some tubs that I love to use for manipulatives.
A view of my morning tubs and cart.
Here are pictures and explanations of my morning tubs:

1.  Dominoes: This is pretty self explanatory.  Of course the kids think dominoes is just stacking up and knocking down.  But I do take time to teach them how to play dominoes.  I also have domino activity cards they they can complete in the tub (this is what is in that red folder in the picture).  It teaches them number sense and recognition.  You can find dominoes that I love here
My high school helper is helping a student make words with these dice.
2  Word Dice.  I found and ordered these from lakeshore.  The kids roll the dice and try and make as many words with the dice combinations they rolled.  I have them record the words they make on a sheet of paper.
3.  Magnetic Science.  This tub just has magentic items at it.  I taught the kids how to swipe the sounds to their word wall words with the wands and magnetic BINGO chips.  you can find this kit here
4.  Art Tub:  All I have in this tub is art stencils and blank paper.  The kids can draw, color, and then write a story of the pictures they colored or drew if they choose to do so.  I have had the stencils forever, but they are just of random things the kids can draw and trace.  So far this is the most popular station.  Here is a link to the stencils I use for the art station.
5.  Lego Tub:  This tub just contains lots of legos.  I will let the kids build.  I also included Lego Olympics which can be found from Amy Lemons at Step Into Second Grade or by clicking here. (There are lots of other goodies in this packet as well).
6.  Phonics Dice:  These are similar to the dice from above just a little different.  The kids do basically the same thing.  Roll the dice and make words.  They record the words they make on a sheet of paper.  You can find the dice here.
7.  Magnetic Letters and Cookie Sheets.  The kids use this tub to build word wall words or spelling words for the week.  There are just a wide variety of magnetic letters in the tub that I saved up from over the years and the cookie sheets came from the Dollar Tree.
8.  GeoBoards.  The kids are loving this tub so far.  they are making things.  I am hoping that by the time we do GeoBoards they will have the playing out of their system.  In the purple folder are challenges they can make with the GeoBoards.  

I realized that I needed more than just morning tubs.  I wanted my kids to be held accountable for the what they did in morning tub time (because I wanted them to do more than play).  I created this FREEBIE printable that you are welcome to use during morning work tubs or any other part of your day.  You can find the Freebie by clicking here.

I plan on switching out tubs, adding tubs, etc. as the year goes on.  One thing I will add is card games as we learn them.  I will also add decks of cards when I go over a few card games they can play with them.  I also have Farkle, Tenzi, and a few other games to add eventually. I will add more math manipulatives and word activities as we learn them as well.  I didn't want to put out everything at the beginning.

The best part of morning tubs is I can have everyone clean up at the same time and know that everyone finished what they needed.  It also gives second graders a chance to play and explore (even if only for 15 minutes or so).  They don't get that very often anymore with the invention of technology (I love technology don't get me wrong.  Sometimes kids just play them too much.).  How do you do morning work in your classroom?

God Bless!

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  1. I absolutely love this post. I'll definitely be using these ideas next year.

  2. I am glad you like it! I am going to update it soon (after the beginning of this year) because I have even more activities to add that my students love. I can't wait to see how it goes in your classroom.

  3. I think these are awesome! I'm going to try to adapt them for my 5th grade morning work. I'm a hater of morning work worksheets too!

    1. I think you totally could. Even creating some STEM bins with activities that they could try out is a great idea. There are a few other ideas that are a bit to hard for second grade that would be great for 5 graders such as the Lego Olympics (search TPT) and some Tanagram Puzzles. I hope your fifth graders enjoy.

  4. Wonderful idea! Can't wait to get started!

    1. I think you will love it. My kids love it. The best part is (ok there are two)....1 I don't have to wait for anyone to finish before moving on. 2. They are learning while playing!

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