Bell rings. Kids rush in. Chaos ensues… We’ve all been there. And we all hate it! Time for some morning routines!
Do you fight morning chaos in your classroom? Would you love to be able to greet your young friends with smiles and list to stories about wiggly teeth? But do you spend your morning reminding kids to do their lunch count, empty their back packs, and (for heaven’s sake) quit chasing each other around the classroom? Clear classroom morning routines can free you up to have positive interactions with your students every morning, instead of battling chaos.
Are you looking for an easier way to handle morning routines with kindergarten and first grade students? Display the student daily routine chart with these FREE cards:
You can start with this student daily routine chart on the second day of school. (You can teach the bathroom and lunch sticks routines after everyone has arrived on the first day.) Here’s what each picture means:
Use the bathroom. (It can be helpful to get this one out of the way right away in the morning!)
Clearly, students should wash their hands after using the bathroom. But when you have extra germs floating around or severe food allergies, you might want all students to wash their hands when they arrive.
This one has multiple steps. Your students will get their folders out of their backpacks and check for papers inside. Then they put notes in a designated place in your room (I like to place a basket on a shelf near the door). After that, they put their mail folder in their cubby/mailbox for “safe-keeping.”
This step takes a lot of support at first. At the beginning of the year in kindergarten you will need to meet kids at the door and remind them of each step for a few weeks. First graders pick up the steps a bit faster. Once most kids have the routine down, you can simply scan the mailboxes to see whose folder is missing. You will need to find those students and remind them of the steps, but soon it becomes routine. Eventually you will need to offer very few reminders. It takes time to help kids develop this routine, but it really encourages responsibility and independence.
If your room doesn’t have a drinking fountain, you might have each child bring a water bottle to school. You can teach them to get the water bottle out of the backpack when they are getting their folders. You might even have them bring their snack in at the same time. So, once they have the routine down, they carry in their water bottle, snack, and folder all at once!
Some routines can be added after students have learned the initial routines. Sharpening pencils is a great one to add after several weeks (or months) of school.) After lot of demonstration and guided practice, students can sharpen pencils on their own – they typically LOVE this job! You might have each child start with the day with two freshly sharpened pencils.
You can choose from many different ways to take attendance. Check out this post for detailed ideas for attendance routines.
Some teachers choose to combine attendance with lunch count (below). Other teachers have students “check-in” on the interactive white board or in a pocket chart. Another fun way to have students check in for the day is a Question of the Day. Students “sign in” to show their response each day, sneaking in a bit of name-writing practice each morning. This post describes how to use Question of the Day as a morning routine.
If you teach all-day students, you will likely need a way for students to tell you if they are having school lunch. Some teachers use lunch sticks for attendance and lunch count. Students find their name stick, and tuck it in the can to show their choice of lunch. Others use the interactive white board to have students move their name to indicate their choice.
To allow a soft start for students, you may allow students to choose a quiet activity to engage in alone or with friends. For example, you might provide students the choice between a book or doing puzzles when they finish their quick morning routines.
A few final thoughts…
Student arrival time can feel rather chaotic because young students arrive with so much to tell you and there are so many small tasks to get ready for the day! Having solid morning routines helps tame the chaos and, at the same time, free up time for you to enjoy your little friends and their exciting stories. Making this small change to your day can really impact the overall tone and culture of your classroom. Give it a try by creating your own student daily routine chart with these free morning routine cards!
Read more about classroom routines that will develop a positive classroom community: