Easy Like Wednesday Morning

Happy Wednesday to you my friends! Today I'm talking about morning routines. Like it or not, back-to-school is just around the corner- some of my friends are already back in session this week! I start to get that back-to-school jones around the first week of August. There really is nothing like a new year, a clean and organized classroom and a fresh group of kiddos who have no routines in place!

So how do you set the tone for success when you are still developing routines in September?!

Mornings in every classroom can be hectic, especially during the first month. Any teacher will tell you that the more independence that happens in the morning, the better the day goes. I am a firm believer that good routines in the morning set the tone for a smooth and successful day. Here are a few ways that I keep our mornings smooth right from day one.

1. Morning Business

In my classroom the kids have to take care of their morning business before they can begin morning work. Morning business includes:
-hang up your coat
-hang up your backpack
-change into sneakers (during the winter)
(Nobody is allowed inside the classroom until these three items are completed.)

Once you enter the classroom:
-put your folder in the basket
-sign up for lunch
-drop off library books (on library day)
-get started on your morning work

2. Morning Work

I LOVE morning work and it works really well for my students. One of the biggest challenges with morning work is choosing work that the students can be mostly independent with. When you are trying to take attendance, submit your lunch count and check folders, it is hard to help a student who is struggling. In September my morning work is easy-peasy (especially because I still don't have a grasp on how much my students know!) Most of the work involves tracing, coloring and following simple directions.

3. Me Time

I swear this is one of the secrets to productivity in my classroom. After students complete morning work I give them "me time". Me Time isn't free time and it's not computer time. It is time when the students have three choices:
-Scrap Monster

I'm very specific with them about these three choices so that they understand Me Time is different than free choice time.

Our Scrap Monster is our glorified recycling bin which my kids have free reign over. I throw everything in there from envelopes to old sheets of stickers. They love to dig around and find new items and use them to draw pictures, make crafts or just play with paper (fine motor!).

Me Time is great because it gives the students something to work for in the morning and it also gives them some self-directed independent time in a mostly teacher-directed workday. For many of my students on the Autism spectrum, it provides a lot of self-soothing time for them to be able to sit quietly and complete a puzzle or draw a picture without being disrupted.

Selfish teacher bonus...it also keeps them busy while I am running around the classroom doing my own morning business!

4. Let's Get Visual!

Using visuals can really help your students to become more independent in their morning routines. I have a visual checklist in the hallway that my students can look at before they enter the room and pictures of their Me Time choices so there is no question about what they are allowed to do. One of my favorite visuals in my classroom is my lunch choice visuals. Thanks to these I don't have to repeat the lunch choices 1000 times before 9:00am! As if you need another reason to go out for Froyo, I keep the spoons from Froyo places and use them as our lunch choice sticks. They come in all different fun colors and they are durable so they last the whole year. You can grab these lunch choice visuals on sale TODAY only! There are 90 lunch choices included. Worried that your school's specialty choice isn't included? No problem. Each purchase comes with 6 custom choices!

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