Start Your Day with Morning Work Students Will Love

For nearly fifteen years, my classroom morning routine consisted of a packet or a worksheet that I wanted my students to complete. At least once I week I would scramble to print something off in my room for the next morning. I would spend hours making my own morning work each week to include the skills I wanted my students to review.

My kids would drag themselves into our classroom and groan over another set of sentences to correct. In reality, they didn't need more math problems to solve, or a crossword puzzle to work out. I dreaded adding another set of papers to be graded. No one enjoyed morning work!!

During a morning meeting last year, we were talking about tardies and absences. There were several kids who were perpetually tardy, and I wanted to "crowdsource" some solutions.

Teacher Truth: Children at any age are unabashedly honest.

One of my darlings spoke up and said, "They are probably trying to get out of morning work."


Talk about a gut check. I could've answered that a million different ways. But they were right. Morning work was boring and terrible --- not how I want to start my day.

I took a breath and said, "Then I guess we need to figure out how to make that better!"


I started by asking them what they would like to do in the morning. I made sure they understood that "nothing" wasn't an option. I thought about the morning work alternatives I'd tried in the past. They didn't seem too enthused. 😂 I had heard of "soft start" mornings and explained it to my students. They were ALL IN. We started by making a list of things we'd like to have available in the mornings:
  • Legos
  • puzzles
  • games
  • art projects
  • books
  • technology
That night, I went home and started a Donor's Choose grant for all of the materials. I made sure to include organization drawers and tubs so that storing everything wouldn't be an issue in our classroom. When we reconvened the next day, my students helped me revise our Donor's Choose list until it was practically perfect. 


I love these rolling carts because the students could move the materials to their work stations and then roll them back when it was time to clean up. We also requested several Sterilite tubs to store some of the puzzles and logic games with smaller pieces. In my experience, game boxes aren't very sturdy and I wanted something that would last longer than a couple of months.

Once the materials arrived, there were definite favorite activities that stood out each morning. The LEGO station was always popular, and the books we ordered for inspiration were a hit as well.

The kids also rushed to play with the IQ games each morning. I loved that these were solo activities that they could play while they chatted with friends as everyone trickled in. There are also several challenges for each set, so it was easy to differentiate for everyone in our classroom.


These two puzzles were also a hit, and could be played solo or with a friend. In fact, I enjoyed the Think Fun Izzi game so much that I bought it for my family to play as well! 

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to use soft start mornings in your classroom! If there's something you'd like to know more about, feel free to email me or comment on the post below. Make sure to save this to Pinterest if you'd like to come back to it in the future!


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  2. We do Soft Starts for the first 10 minutes of the day, as well as the 10 minutes after lunch. They amazingly can clean up in 1 minute when I put a countdown timer on the screen. I plan to do a Donors Choose project to get more items, but for now we use what I already had or friends have donated. Favorite activities are: building with little paper cups, wooden blocks, Legos or Unifix cubes; drawing, organizing the classroom bookshelf, Dominoes, and play dough. Would love to post pictures if there is a way to do that! I am thankful for the 10 minutes it gives me to take attendance, check their Communication Notebooks, and touch base with any kids needing extra TLC or help solving a problem. It is a win-win!

    1. Jamie, I love these ideas! I forgot all about the cup stacking station! It is a definite time-GIVER for teachers. A definite win-win!