Kindergarten morning work tubs are an easy way to give your students meaningful activities to start their day and keep them busy. As kindergarten teachers, there are many things we need to accomplish at the start of the school day while also keeping our kindergarten students engaged. Otherwise, students may become distracted. So, keeping your kids busy allows you to chip away at your hectic morning routine so that you’re prepared for the day ahead.
For those reasons, I LOVE morning tub activities. They are fun, hands-on, and you can change them out regularly, so students never get bored with the same tasks that they have seen over and over again. Plus, they make the perfect addition to their morning routine!
Here are my best tips for using morning tubs in your kindergarten classroom.
Tip #1: Keep Them Fresh
As students get used to activities, they lose interest in them. To remedy this, you can use creative ways to introduce new activities and keep your morning tub materials fresh. I try to switch out materials at the beginning of each month, using a specific theme, if possible. For example, I like to give my students activities with a fall or Halloween theme in October. Students love when the new morning tubs roll out with fun themes like candy corn, pumpkin patches, and spiders. The novelty of the activities, along with the timely themes, helps build student engagement and captures their immediate attention.
Tip #2: Use Familiar Activities
Just because the activities are kept fresh does not mean that they aren’t familiar to students. While the themes and specific activities will be new, the content must be familiar to students. If you don’t use games and activities similar to what they have done before or that they can complete skill-wise, you will spend a lot of time answering questions to help students figure them out. Either that or students may abandon the activity altogether. Essentially, the tasks need to be difficult enough to keep students busy but not so complex that they aren’t sure what to do with the tub.
Typically, I use a mixture of fine motor activities, math, and literacy games. To keep them relevant each month, I try to give my students activities that focus on review skills or skills we are currently working on. Towards the beginning of the year in October and even into November, that looks like first sound activities, building quantities, number recognition, and early sight words. By keeping the activities somewhat familiar, your students can engage in the activities without relying on you for a lot of direction.
Tip #3: Use Hands-on Materials
As with any activity, the goal is to keep students engaged while also building their skills in different areas. In addition, using hands-on materials is a great way to strengthen fine motor muscles! My favorite tools for morning tubs are playdough, snap cubes, and magnetic letters. You can use play dough to build numbers, letters, or even quantities on a ten frame. Snap cubes are great for making stacks of a quantity after looking at a given number. You can also use magnet letters in various ways. For example, your students can build sight words, match letters to sounds, and do uppercase and lowercase letter matches. There are so many options for hands-on learning in morning work stations when you have the right materials included.
Tip #4: Have a System
Before using morning tubs in your classroom, I recommend that you figure out a system for them. There are many different ways you can go about this. For example, you can assign small groups for each morning tub. In addition, students can move through different activities throughout the day or stick with one tub per day.
With whatever system you choose, you should make sure that students aren’t getting the same tub every day. We want to keep these activities fresh so students don’t get bored with them. Also, we want to make sure students are practicing a mixture of math, literacy, and fine motor skills throughout the month. Therefore, I recommend you have a rotating system with assigned tubs for each day. You can also set up a system where students cross off the tubs they have already completed so that they know to get a different one. Each system ensures students only do a tub once, stay engaged, and get exposed to all the skills.
Morning tub time is a fun way to introduce open-ended activities that require fine motor work and hand-eye coordination! Hopefully, these morning tub ideas will help you establish a daily routine and meet your students’ needs simultaneously!