Tips for Getting Started With Kindergarten Morning Tubs

Giving your students the opportunity to have a soft start to their day with hands-on and engaging activities is key to creating a consistent routine kindergarteners thrive on. Morning tubs are an excellent way to get your students' brains warmed up for the day, while still helping to reinforce skills they have already working on. Read on to discover the benefits of kindergarten morning tubs along with tips for getting started using them in your classroom.

What are Kindergarten Morning Tubs?

As a kindergarten teacher, mornings can be hectic. There’s the hustle and bustle of students putting away their belongings, getting in the classroom, and settling in at their seat.

Some students may not be awake just yet, while others are so excited to see their friends. They all need a little time to shift gears and get ready to learn.

Oftentimes, students aren’t ready for direct instruction or quiet paper and pencil work right off the bat. They need a transitional activity to get their brains warmed up for the day.

In addition, between submitting attendance, taking lunch count, and other morning responsibilities, teachers also need a few moments before class begins.

But students can't just sit there, so that's where kindergarten morning tubs come into play. Kindergarten morning tubs can change your hectic morning routine by providing a consistent and predictable routine for students.

Kindergarten morning tubs are an alternative to traditional paper and pencil morning work. They are hands-on activities that provide students with a soft start so they can easily transition into “school mode” and get ready for the day.

Morning tub activities can be as simple as free exploration with manipulatives, or they can be skill-based activities that provide a review of skills being taught in class.

Plus, no worksheets means less copies to make and less paperwork to grade, and what teacher doesn't love that, right?!

Just like adults, kids thrive with structure, and morning tubs provide that right from the start of the day. Read on to learn a few more benefits of kindergarten morning tubs!

Benefits of Kindergarten Morning Tubs

Open-ended play.

Much of the school day involves following directions and performing tasks in a particular way.

Working with morning tubs gives students the much-needed freedom to play and explore on their own. This helps them gain independence without the stress of an expected result.

Morning tubs do not include recording sheets, so there's no pressure to write. With morning tubs, it's easy to disguise games and “fun stuff” as learning. 

Active learning.

In any learning environment, there has to be a balance between passive and active learning. It's true that being able to focus, listening carefully, and following directions are important. But equally important is time for hands-on, active learning. 

Morning tubs allow students to create, imagine, and experiment on their own. You can tailor them to your students' needs, interests, and even the seasons or holidays.

Extra fine motor practice.

Since kindergarten morning tubs are more hands-on than traditional pencil and paper work, it's easy to sneak in extra fine motor practice.

By adding play dough, tweezers, or clothespins to activities, students can strengthen their hand muscles, which is critical in the early years.

Build social skills. 

When students are allowed to work on morning tubs with partners or in small groups, they develop important social skills.

As students engage in educational games and cooperative play, they talk, collaborate, and build relationships with their peers.

They listen to each other's ideas and learn to compromise. These are all essential building blocks of teamwork. 

Enhance academic skills. 

It's easy to stock your morning tubs with relevant learning materials and use them as a way to review skills covered in class.

Incorporate math manipulatives such as blocks, math cubes, foam shapes, and mini erasers. These help students master concepts like counting, patterns, and simple addition and subtraction.

Magnetic letters, beads, and tiles along with various writing materials support literacy skills. 

They make learning fun!

The most important thing we can teach our young students is to love learning. Fun activities that are engaging and challenging, like morning tubs, are the best way to help kids build positive attitudes about school and learning. 

How to Get Started with Kindergarten Morning Tubs?

Now that you know the benefits of kindergarten morning tubs, it's time to talk about how to actually get started with them in your classroom!

One of the challenges of morning tubs is constantly coming up with new activities that review skills and hold students' attention. You can only do so many puzzles, blocks, and lacing activities before kids get bored.

To help overcome this challenge, I've created a year-long kindergarten morning tubs resource to take the stress out of planning and coming up with morning tub activities.

Teach routines and procedures.

Once you have your kindergarten morning tubs prepped and ready to go, the first step is to explicitly teach routines and procedures to your students.

They need to learn where to find their morning tubs, how to get them to their seat, what materials they'll need, how to use them, how to clean them up, and how to put them away responsibly.

For the first several weeks (or months) of school, you'll need to teach, practice, and model these routines and procedures.

Introduce new activities one at a time.

The next tip for getting started with morning tubs is to introduce new activities one at a time. Don't make the mistake of putting all of your morning tub activities for the entire month out there at once.

Students need to learn how to use each style of activity and practice before moving on to another. This will reduce the overwhelm on their part and the chaos altogether.

Give students the opportunity to practice and work with materials.

While using math cubes, play dough, and magnetic letters may seem simple to you, it may not be for your new students.

They need to have multiple opportunities to practice the morning tub activities and work with the materials and manipulatives.

After introducing a new activity, allow each student to practice using it before moving on.

Explicitly practice cleaning up and organizing.

I mentioned it above, but cleaning up and organizing is so important that it deserves its own tip.

No one thrives in a messy, unorganized space. Therefore, it's important to teach and practice cleaning up and organizing the morning tubs.

Students need to learn how to responsibly put away their materials and store them. This also helps them practice stopping on time and transitioning in a timely manner.

For tips and ideas on how to store and organize morning tubs in your classroom, check out this blog post.

Back to School Kindergarten Morning Tubs

Introducing morning tubs early in the year is a great way to create that consistent morning routine from the early days of school.

The back to school set of morning tubs are a great way for students to ease into the school routine, explore, and show what they know.

These activities were designed to be simple enough that they can be completed independently, even during the first few weeks of kindergarten. 

Along with fine motor play dough mats, color practice, number and letter sorts, an editable sight word activity, and editable name activities, there are a ton of simple activities to introduce letters and numbers. 

Want to make planning REALLY easy? You can grab your morning tubs for the entire year with the bundle.

Free Kindergarten Morning Tub Activities

Take your mornings from chaotic to crazy with these free morning tub activities. With eight math and literacy activities, kindergarten students will be engaged and reviewing content every morning, while improving fine motor skills and working independently.

Morning tubs are the perfect way to ease your students into the school day, so they are warmed up and ready to learn once class begins. Grab the free morning tub activities below to give it a try inside your kindergarten classroom.

For more kindergarten morning tub ideas, check out this blog post.

What does your morning routine look like? I'd love to know in the comments.  

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  1. I don’t see the name mat pictured with the back to school package. I would like to purchase a copy of the name mat. How do I purchase?

    1. Hi Helen,
      That activity is on pages 71-79 in the Back to School morning tubs.

  2. Hi! These tubs are awesome but I’m new to them.
    1) How many kids can work per set that is printed just once?
    2) Do you do a quick whole group training on them or just throw them out there?
    Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Tiffany,
      Most activities include more than one copy, allowing for more than one student to work on the activity at a time. You can also print more than one copy if needed. And yes, you’ll want to introduce the activities before allowing students to work independently. You can use them at an adult-led station first or do a short whole group lesson. I would select a few activities and introduce those first, then slowly add more activities, this way students do not get overwhelmed or confused. Be sure to introduce/explain each new activity before having students work on it independently. The types of activities stay the same throughout the year, so once you’ve explained it once (maybe twice), you can switch out the activities/skills as the year progresses. I hope that helps. 🙂

  3. What do you use for a storage system for these activities? A link would be great! Thanks!

  4. What kind of clothespins do you use for these morning Activities? Do you have a link?

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