Want the Most Joyful Start to Every School Day? Try Morning Tubs!

Have you heard about Morning Tubs?  How you start the day often sets the tone for the rest of your day.  I've changed my thinking in recent years and have begun to embrace a more relaxed start to the day and have transitioned to using Morning Tubs in my first-grade classroom.  It's definitely made the start of the day more joyful for my students and me!

Read on to find out what the beginning of the day looks like with my first graders and how it got them excited about learning.

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets.

In my classroom, we are now starting most days with Morning Tubs.

If you are feeling hesitant about using Morning Tubs to start your day, then start with this post first.  I share 5 reasons why it's the best way to start the day for both your students and yourself.

5 reasons why you should switch to morning tubs for the start of your day

I have Morning Tubs filled with Math related activities.  Many of these activities are totally open-ended, while some have specific tasks to complete.  I found my students were coming in with lots of energy and wanted to talk, talk, talk.  My morning work and journal time weren't working because my students just wanted to be social.

I had read about this way of starting the school day, and I admit I was skeptical.  I figured that it would lead to more unsettled kids, but I was totally surprised when the opposite happened.  They were excited to find out who their partner was and to get to work on an activity.  There was still a buzz throughout the room, but most of my students were focused and chatting and working and playing with partners.  I was sold.

I have been busy creating my own activities after scouring Pinterest for ideas.  I love to create things that are low prep, meaning all I have to do is make a copy or two and put out the manipulative.  Is this your jam, too?  These are a few of our favourites.

Use dominoes as a fun way to practice math skills such as addition, number recognition, subitizing and odd/even numbers

I put together 9 activities to use with dominoes.  My students had a blast using them.  You can take a closer look at them by clicking the image or by clicking here {HERE} 

My students LOVE pattern blocks!   They are the all-time favourite math manipulative in my classroom.  Creating elaborate designs is their favourite activity but sometimes I like them to be a bit more directed.  This is one of the sets that I put out for them to explore.  You can download it yourself and try it out for FREE.

Here are a few ideas I have found while browsing Pinterest. I hope there is some inspiration here for you, too.

Use maniputives to start your day.

Use pattern blocks for a variety of things.  I have these cards from a set purchased ages ago, but your students will love building their own designs too.  Using plastic tweezers to pick up pom-poms to cover letters is excellent fine motor practice and suitable for letter recognition and counting also.

Use math manipulatives for literacy skills such as building letters

Building letters of the alphabet with snap cubes and pattern blocks.  This helps with manual dexterity and for copying a model.  Using the pattern blocks just as they are modelled is useful for developing spatial awareness too.

Word building with lego or playdoh and stamps is a great morning tub activity that requires not paper

Playing with Lego is fun, so adding letters to the blocks adds an educational twist.  I have lots of stamp sets but do not like stamp pads at all (too messy!).  I started having students stamp in play-doh.  We usually use a placemat to work on, so it doesn't stick to the table.

Use these free patterning cards and your students can make patterns with any material.

My students love to pattern with everything.  I added these simple pattern cards to a few bins of materials, and they do the rest.

You can use many materials for patterning.  Get creative and see what materials you have to use.

We start our year with a patterning unit, so adding things to make patterns with the Good Morning Baskets is always a big hit.

Play doh is always a hit for morning tubsCuisinaire rods are great for inspiring building activities

Building pictures with Cuisenaire blocks and patterning with play-doh are super simple activities to add to your Good Morning baskets.

100 charts and tiles make an instant morning tub activity

I wrote the numbers to 100 on a set of plastic tiles that I had.  By happenstance, they fit perfectly on this set of 100 charts I already had. Instant morning center.  They love matching up the numbers.

create word building boxes with magnets and magnetic tape.

These word building kits are a hit with my girls, especially.  I hot glued the magnet strip into the case and added a sticker to the bottom (it is barely visible in the picture), so I knew what letters were supposed to be in the case.  Sometimes they grab some paper from the writing center and make a list of the words they built.

You can get both the labels I use and the label for the Word Building cases by dropping your name and email below.

How I structure this time

Our Good Morning basket time lasts about 20 - 25 minutes.  It gives my stragglers time to get organized for the day.  Often those students end up missing out on this time, but it is better this than my literacy lessons.

I use this time to quickly look through agendas and then I usually circulate and chat with kids as they are working and gauge the mood of some of my students who sometimes have a difficult start to the day.  This time is so valuable.

If you want more details on exactly HOW the day/week looks with Morning Tubs, then check out this post for all those answers!

Pin this image so you can return to this post when you need inspiration.

Find lots of inspiration for morning tubs that encourage review of many math skills like patterning, 2D geometry, money, base 10 and more!

I have included resources I have found on other sites.  Check out my Pinterest board to find those links.

Until next time,


  1. You have such great ideas to hold the interest of your students while providing alternate ways of reinforcing skills/ concepts! Great job, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. I am glad that you found some ideas here! Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  2. I love all of your good morning baskets! Such a great variety of skills can be covered using these! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thanks Karyn! I am glad you stopped by and checked out the post. I try to make sure there is a good variety of activities.

  3. I love these! What great ideas!!

  4. How many Morning Bins do you have in your room?

    1. Hi Denise. I have 10 bins that my kids use in partners. I used to divide them by math and language but this year I don't have them separated, it is simply 10 activities that could relate to math, language or STEM. Thanks for asking. Christina

  5. I would love a set of the pattern cards! My e mail is victoria.vick.bc@gmail.com I love your ideas! It's just going to take me a little while to get everything ready for them!

  6. I would love a copy of the pattern task cards :) You have some awesome soft start ideas :)

    1. Hello, If you sign up by filling in the opt in form in the body of the blog post you will have access to the pattern task cards as well as lots of other free resources. I am glad you like the ideas.


  7. Wow it was an awesome idea to start up the day.keep the fire burning .i will love to make mine to help my kiddos

  8. Thanks for your ideas! Do you mind sending me the pattern cards. It will keep me from reinventing the wheel! Thanks!! waltonnr@lcps.k12.va.us

    1. Hello. I can use your email to subscribe you to my list where you can access the free pattern strips I reference in my post. You will get an email from me with a link and a password.


  9. I would love to have a copy of your word building labels. I really enjoyed reading about your creative ideas for morning work! My email is manderson@florencek12.org

  10. Would love a copy to use for a math resource! specifically looking for the abc pattern cards...hoping to use for a project tomorrow! Thank you! meachemkiara@gmail.com