CALMING MORNING ROUTINES FOR ELEMENTARY CLASSROOMS

Monday, September 3, 2018


I like to start my school day how I like to start any day: calm, cool, and collected. When I'm home, this means drinking a morning cup of coffee on my couch in peace and quiet. But what about at school with 20+ kindergarteners who are full of energy and ready to socialize?

Regardless of what grade level you teach, you know that school arrival has potential to be hectic. If you're like me, you want to minimize the crazy and maximize the calm. Today I'm sharing a few things you can do to set the mood for the day from the minute your students walk into your classroom.

How do you feel when you play music? Do you get energized with upbeat songs? Do you relax with the soothing acoustic ones? It's the same with kids. Put on relaxing, instrumental music when you get settled in your classroom. Why start it when you get there? Believe it or not, it might relax you too. I've been doing this for the past 5 years now, and it always sets the stage for a calm classroom environment (and a calm teacher). Use a CD or my favorite: YouTube. Some of the videos have kid-friendly images that play. You can display that video or minimize your browser to display anything else you need to.

Here are a few of my favorite instrumental music options from YouTube:


I have found that using visuals in the classroom is helpful for both students and teachers. Visuals show students what they need to be doing, which increases their independence. They also minimizing the amount of talking that you, as the teacher, need to do. The first morning visual I use is a "Good Morning" Procedure slide. I add my specific morning arrival and unpacking routines using words and pictures. Students see this displayed on the board and are reminded of what they need to do without me having to say anything. 


If I see a child that has begun their morning activities, but hasn't followed all of the arrival procedures, I point to the visual and ask: "Have you done these things?". They go down the list and typically realize within seconds what they still need to do. After a few days of using this poster, I don't even need to say anything to my students. I simply show them the poster and it's a nonverbal reminder of what they need to do. 

Want these themed slides for your classroom? You can find them as part of my Morning Meeting Slides resource. 


Another visual I use is this Unpacking Poster. I format it to match the slide above and hold it as students walk in. It's their first nonverbal reminder of what they need to do before going to their tables. You can find the editable poster for free here

In addition to music and visuals, I also have morning tubs set out and ready to go. I always prep these on the Friday before the new week to make sure that I'm not scrambling on Monday morning. At the beginning of the year, I also set the bins out on tables either in the afternoon before I leave (as long as I remember) or first thing in the morning when I arrive. If you're scrambling and feeling frazzled, then your kids will be too. Once my students have their arrival routines down solid, I leave the tubs on labeled spots where they can retrieve them and put them away - but that's for another blog post in the future :) 

Finally, I always make a conscious effort to greet all of my students at the door. I hold my unpacking poster (and my coffee) while greeting them with a "Good Morning" and a wave, high five, or a hug. Greeting students at the door has always minimized the morning crazy. We all have so much that we need to get done, and it can be tempting to be working while your students are coming in (especially as they get more independent). However, I have always found that being present when they first arrive starts their day on a happy, positive note, while also reminding them that you're there to ensure they do what they need to as soon as they walk in your classroom. 

I hope that these simple tips help keep morning arrival calm and positive in your classroom this year!



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