30+ Ideas for the beginning of the school day
One of the best routines that you can establish to create certainty and calm at the beginning of the school day, is a strong morning routine.
Not only is this great for students, but it can be a calming factor for you as well – especially if teaching causes you anxiety, like it does so many teachers.
My expectations for coming into the classroom at any time are that the students come in, wash their hands, get organised and straight into a quiet activity. Students aren’t to come up to me with a story, complaint, or something to show me – yet. When I am settled, and the students are settled, I ask students if they have something they need to tell me to put their hand up, and I call on them one by one to come to my desk and chat.
When everyone is settled into an activity, it gives me time to talk to a student or parent, reply to an email, and prepare materials for the next activity.
So, what activities are my students doing?
I choose from a range – sometimes everyone is doing the same thing and sometimes we have tables to explore, or goup tables with set activities. I like to use class slides with timers to share instructions and give my students a timeframe, such as 20 minutes.
- Stamina reading – the easiest, high-impact activity of them all!
- Handwriting – use your week’s focus. Laminated sheets are great for tracing and reusing.
- Motivational video (Ted Talks for Kids are great!)
- Spelling using whiteboards or spelling activity grid
- Dictionary work – Learning area vocabulary or spelling words
- Writing sentences using their spelling words
- Pobble 365 or a quick write
- Maths Mentals or Warm Ups
- Playdough – (make 10, letter formation, fractions)
- Lacing – make your own with a hole punch
- Tweezer sort activities (pom poms, pasta)
- 10 and 20 frames
- Art and craft table
- Morning slide with a combination of Maths and English – some great options on Teacher Pay Teachers. This has to be one of my favourite options, but be sure that they don’t take up too much time.
- Editing activity
- Sight word powerpoint or flash cards
- Number/Word of the Day
- Timetable rote learning (use copies of different tables)
- Multiplication grid
- Meditation (Smiling Mind, Cosmic Yoga)
- Goal setting for the week (Monday) and reflection (Friday)
- Diary entry
Some group/partner activities:
- Line up shortest to tallest, alphabetical order by first name (not roll order), line up by birthday.
- Conversation starters – would you rather?
- Hang ten (like hangman but your draw a stick figure on a surfboard instead – much nicer)
- Buddy reading
How to organise morning activities:
- Have a ‘Do now’ activity which is silent and independent.
- Organise activities on an odd-even week roster – put one set of activities on one shelf, and another set on another shelf. This means that activities are cycled and students will engage with them longer.
- Have four activity types: literacy, numeracy. Fine motor and construction OR have different colours for activities and students need to complete all colours by the end of the week.
- Morning Work bags for each student: letter formation, hundreds chart etc – include sheets and materials for the term. A ‘Morning Work’ book works well for older students.
How to use morning activities to tick other boxes:
Use this time to add something to ClassDojo – take a photo of the activity and write a learning story to share with parents.
Have a ‘Read to Me’ board where students move their name from ‘Read to the teacher’ and ‘Waiting to Read to Teacher’ – throughout morning work (and the day) listen to students read and move their name down the board. You could also implement this over the week.
Ensure intervention activities that require repetition, such as revising sight words, phonological gaps or working on fine motor, are completed in this uninterrupted time.
Don’t forget outside activities:
Many students have been sitting for HOURS before school unable to run around. Sometimes the most productive morning activity is PHYSICAL activity.
I start with 10mins of stamina reading to organise the roll/ morning notices and then take my students out for 20 minutes of energy-burning activity.
This can include:
- Laps around oval
- Various forms of tiggy (gang-up, pop-up etc)
- Bull rush
- Obstacle course on the playground (from one end to the other)
- Boot camp (push ups, sit ups, burpees, star jumps etc)
- Crab soccer
- Running races
- Ship, shark, shore
- Cosmic Yoga or Go Noodle when we get back to the classroom
After our morning activity, we have our fruit break and our morning meeting. Then we start our day.
Why have a morning routine?
It sets you up for success and establishes a calm classroom where students know what to expect. You can also find yourself ten minutes to deal with unexpected issues or an urgent email. Students that are running late haven’t missed any learning activities and feel less anxiety coming into the classroom.
It is also one of the tools I use to manage MY anxiety – when I know that my students can independently complete an activity (make sure to set some expectations around interruptions), then I feel confident that I can start my day organised and prepared.
I hope these ideas help to set you and your students up for a great day!