Help Students Start the Day Strong with a Soft Landing!

We never know how our students' days have started before they enter the classroom. A Soft Landing may be exactly what many of them need to prepare to be their best all day long!

Hilary, from The Primary Planet, was kind enough to share a variety of options that can help get the day off to a super start, both for students and for teachers.

Here's a whole collection of ideas from Hilary!  (They brought back some great memories that I just had to share. I added some thoughts in blue.


From Hilary . . . 
    
Ahhh...the first 20 minutes of school after you have happily greeted all of your darling cherubs... We want them to be busy, independent, productive, and calm. I want the morning to help set the tone for the day.

I don't know how you feel,  but as a teacher, I really don't want morning work that I have to grade later. Here are some options that don't involve worksheets or a whole lot of planning!
  
My kiddos have a procedure they follow when they come into the room every day. They turn in any notes for me, make sure that they have 2 sharp pencils, choose a partner, use the restroom and get a drink, then start on their morning work! Here are some things that I like to do in my classroom during the first 20 minutes of class when I am trying to sort through notes, take attendance, and get ready to start our day.
  
My Favorite Morning Work Activity: Read!
I love using that time in the morning when the kiddos come in to have them read to themselves or with a partner.  My kiddos can read out of their book boxes, choose new books, or read from our "theme" bookshelf.  They can choose a fun spot in the room to read and share books.  This is also one of my students' favorite morning work activities. 

This reminds me of some of my favorite mornings in the classroom. I'd spread out a collection of books that kids had read in small groups over the last few months. Often, little eyes would light up as they saw some of their favorites. I loved seeing kids realize how they'd grown as readers as they flew through books that were challenging a few short months ago. 
 
Sometimes I pair morning reading time with:
     
Book Shopping      

I have a few kiddos who would spend all of Reading Workshop shopping for books if that was a choice. Having the kiddos bookshop when they first come into class is an activity that my students really enjoy!  This also helps me make sure they have books to read during Reading Workshop. They love to shop with a buddy as well, which gets them talking about books!
Book Shopping Challenges  
I occasionally do Book Shopping Challenges as well!  Sometimes when the kiddos come in, I have a book shopping challenge on the board!  They love showing me something new that they discovered in our classroom library. . .


 My Students' Favorite Morning Work: Morning Missions
My kiddos LOVE Morning Mini-Missions.  This does include making a few copies, but it gets your kiddos out of their seats and working together!  There are all sorts of mini-mission tasks such as: 
  • Collecting data and graphing the information
  • Finding out your friends' favorite colors
  • Writing or telling a story, with group members adding one sentence at a time
  • Brainstorming the perfect play date
These activities have the kiddos up and interacting with one another. They are perfect for creating and keeping a sense of collaboration and classroom community among your students!  

Story Telling and Writing Centers

The Story Telling Center in my room is one of the kiddos' favorite spots!  They love to use all kinds of manipulatives to tell stories and their imaginations just run WILD. . .

This is my favorite place to spend time with the kiddos if I am not pulling small groups or working with students one on one. We have so much fun telling stories! What do I have in my storytelling center? Some great plastic toy sets - a jungle animal set, an ocean animal set, and a dinosaur set. These are just plastic animals that the kiddos can move around, play with and use to tell different stories about the animals!

I also have Story Cubes. There are all kinds of ways that these can be used to help the kiddos tell stories!

Finger puppets are also very popular in my storytelling center. I have some very dramatic minded kiddos this year who LOVE to perform. They really enjoy making up stories for the finger puppets to act out!

My students really enjoy writing their own scripts for the finger puppets or for each other to do their own skits and Reader's Theatre! They can write their own original script or write a script based on a favorite book.  I have a scriptwriting freebie for you!  You can download it HERE, or save it for later by pinning the image.

When one of those little sweeties is celebrating a birthday, I love to "hold the presses" on everything else and have each of his/her classmates make a page for a Birthday Book. Kids can draw or write, expressing good wishes in whatever way works best for them. These Birthday Books often become treasured keepsakes.   

 8 Morning Works Ideas (Part 2)  for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade that don't involve worksheets! These fun morning work routines will help you set the tone for your day! You will also find ideas for morning work tubs, free activities, and even some paperless bell ringer choices!  Most ideas are little to no prep! Morning Work ideas for Reading, Writing, Math, Book Shopping, and Computers!  Don't forget to save and grab your freebies!  #morningwork #teachers #primaryplanet

Journals 

A journal could be a notebook, binder, or, just a few pages stapled together!  You could let them free write, or put a journal writing prompt on the board.  You could also have them write about a book they are reading!  I really like to use short but sweet Weekly Writing Journals with topics that are quick to write about and really fun to share!

8 Morning Works Ideas (Part 2)  for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade that don't involve worksheets! These fun morning work routines will help you set the tone for your day! You will also find ideas for morning work tubs, free activities, and even some paperless bell ringer choices!  Most ideas are little to no prep! Morning Work ideas for Reading, Writing, Math, Book Shopping, and Computers!  Don't forget to save and grab your freebies!  #morningwork #teachers #primaryplanet

Pick a Prompts 

Another morning work writing idea that my students LOVE is using Pick a Prompts!  Haven't heard of Pick A Prompts? You can find a blog post that I did about them HERE! There are a myriad of ways to use Pick a Prompts, but the easiest by far is just to make a class set of copies and leave them out for your students to pick from when they come in. They choose a character, a setting, and a plot point, then write the story! I always let my students use as many items as they would like and color the ones they choose to put in their story. Short on copies? Print two per page, laminate, and keep these in your writing center. This is also a good way to provide some variety!  Want to check them out, or better yet, try them out? You can click the picture to get some for yourself for FREE!

Talk to Your Friends!

Sometimes the kiddos come in with a story to tell or something that they desperately want to share.  I am not a fan of Show and Tell, or Show and Share, so I try to give them time to just come in and talk to one another.  
    
Sometimes I put a topic on the board (it usually goes with whatever topic we are going to talk about during morning meeting). The social-emotional impact of just talking to one another is huge!  I also love to go and join in the conversations. It is a great way to get to know my kiddos!  
   
This choice is perfect for those days when you have limited time for morning work.  I also love this choice on field trip days as the kiddos are so hyped up anyway, all they want to do is talk about the field trip!  Also, parent chaperones are often in class to join in the conversations. This one is the ultimate easy morning work choice!
When adults get to work, we often want to start the day by touching base with our people. Kids often need this too. . .
  

Math Activities and More

Why not have your kiddos practice their math skills first thing in the morning?  Any type of math game works during this time! This is a perfect time to fit in games that reinforce skills they've learned over the last few months. 
   

Morning Work Tubs

 Morning work tubs are a favorite. Many of you already have a ton of centers set up, why not use some of them for morning work? Any center that the kiddos already know how to use works well as morning work. I call my center time (or academic choice time) Jedi Academy to go with my Star Wars themed classroom. If I put Jedi Academy on the board for morning work, they know that they can use any of the "centers" that we have for that time. Here are some of the favorites in my classroom:

8 Morning Works Ideas (Part 2)  for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade that don't involve worksheets! These fun morning work routines will help you set the tone for your day! You will also find ideas for morning work tubs, free activities, and even some paperless bell ringer choices!  Most ideas are little to no prep! Morning Work ideas for Reading, Writing, Math, Book Shopping, and Computers!  Don't forget to save and grab your freebies!  #morningwork #teachers #primaryplanet

Pattern Block Puzzles

These are fun puzzles that the kiddos use pattern blocks to solve!  They build and record the blocks they use to make the picture.  Then, they try to make the same item with more pattern blocks and fewer pattern blocks!  They LOVE it!  Want to try it?  Click the pic to get your freebie!

Play Dough Mats

Students LOVE play dough!  Play dough mats for STEM/STEAM are perfect morning work activities! The kiddos just need a mat and some play dough!  The mats feature challenges your students complete to create solutions to problems using play dough!  They LOVE it!  

Math Manipulatives 

Kids need time to explore math manipulatives so they can focus on the lessons when using them later on. I have all mine in easy to move tubs, so I can just set them out and let the kiddos take them and find a spot in the room to use them! The kiddos LOVE Polydrons, Pattern Blocks, inch tiles, snap cubes, base ten blocks, linker cubes, tangrams, creative kids flakes, and geoboards!

8 Morning Works Ideas (Part 2)  for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade that don't involve worksheets! These fun morning work routines will help you set the tone for your day! You will also find ideas for morning work tubs, free activities, and even some paperless bell ringer choices!  Most ideas are little to no prep! Morning Work ideas for Reading, Writing, Math, Book Shopping, and Computers!  Don't forget to save and grab your freebies!  #morningwork #teachers #primaryplanet

Computer Time

We are a 1:1 with devices school, so the kiddos bring their Chromebooks to school every day!  This can be both a blessing and a curse. There are numerous great learning things that the kiddos can do on their computers, but sometimes monitoring them can be a challenge. We recently as a school corporation got Go Guardian, which lets me monitor everyone's screen and history at once. I am not affiliated in any way with Go Guardian, but I am very happy with the service they provide!

Here are some of the sites that I have my kiddos use for morning work.  

Free Reading Sites:
  • EPIC!  (this site really is EPIC and free for educators! Tons of online books and goodies!)
  • Storyline Online (books read by celebrities)
  • Storytime from Space (Real astronauts reading stories while they are in space on the International Space Station!)
  • Just Books Read Aloud 
  • Into the Book (great for practicing reading strategies)

Free Math Sites:
  • Prodigy (My kiddos go crazy for this fun math game.  I frequently give them Prodigy time as a reward!)
  • Cool Math Games

If you have other sites that you LOVE for Reading, Math, or other educational pursuits, I would love to hear about them!  Drop me a comment and I will add them to my post!

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading this post.
Phew! That was a lot of info in one post! 

Please pin the following image if you'd like to refer back to this post.  I appreciate your shares!


Much like the greatest journey begins with a single step, a great day can sometimes begin with one Soft Landing. I truly love these ideas - Thanks for sharing, Hilary!

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