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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Morning tubs - Im lovin it!

Seriously I don't know what took me so long to finally try morning tubs as an alternative to morning work! I have been using them in my first grade classroom for the past two weeks Monday - Thursday and still doing our traditional journal on Fridays. My students are coming in excited to get started in the morning and it's from one little adjustment.

So what are morning tubs?

They are baskets or tubs filled with items the students can use independently or as a small group. I currently have 14 students and use 4 tubs. I spent some time looking through the manipulatives and items in the classroom that I had. I thought about what I could allow students to use freely without worrying about a cost to replace if damaged. I also wanted the tubs to hold items that students could devise their own activities with. 

How do I implement them?

Each morning my students come in and write down their homework. On Mondays they all come to the rug in case I need to explain new tubs briefly or arrange new student groups. I have 3 rules for morning tubs and we often review them before beginning.

1. Be safe
2. Make smart choices
3.Stay in your space

Then I place students in the different areas of the room where the 4 tubs are spread out. I put some on rugs, others at tables. I set a timer for 15-25 minutes and students are allowed to basically have some free play time with the materials. Afterwards I set the timer for a minute, they clean and return to their seats. The next day they rotate to a new tub. They catch on to the rotation cycle pretty quickly.

What do I put in them?

There are tons of great Pins and blog posts about what you can put in morning tubs. I looked through a few blogs and what I had in my cabinets. My first two weeks we used the same materials but in the second week I switched up the groups of children.

Letter cubes- Leap Frog dominoes- Plastic shapes - Plastic links

Leap Frog Dominoes

Plastic shapes

Other items I am considering

Magnetic boards and letters or numbers - Dry erase workbooks and markers - sorting items like buttons - base ten cubes and rods -  math cubes - number bonds - sentence building cubes - peg boards and rubber bands 

Why should you look into them?

Play time!
It seems so hard to squeeze that extra play into the day. We do brain breaks, use hands on learning, and incorporate technology but at times a student just wants to play pretend. I have overheard the cutest conversations as they come up with a game to play together with the items. It doesn't matter that they aren't using the letter cubes to build words, I could have them do that in a center later. For now they can pretend to build a fort!

Social Skills
The students are working together as they share, or all decide to make imaginary cakes with plastic shapes. They are using the manners we work so hard to implement when asking a friend to "Please share the triangles." I am all about giving them time to build the skills that help them work together.

Less on the teacher
This may vary based on the makeup of your classroom schedule but I have a little less of the responsibility on me when we use morning tubs. I used to have students writing in journals daily and occasionally I was collecting them and grading/checking them. It was a mundane task for sure. Now we just write once a week and I can grade that without collecting them.

Students place the tubs in the correct spaces for me after I show them where they belong on Monday. They also clean up quickly afterwards, I give them a minute and give shout-outs or treats to the team that does it quickly or works together without arguing (which sometimes happens!). 

While they are working on tubs I call individual students or small groups to my table for RTI time. I can pull them away without worrying they are missing out on crucial learning. It also allows a bit of a buffer time for some of my students that may roll in a little late!

So with all that I say....

Think about trying morning tubs! Do some research! Try it ou!
I've never had students come in so excited to get to their morning "work".
And a little more play makes for a better day :)

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