Transform Your Morning with the Morning Work Binder

Mornings in the classroom are NOT meant to be crazy. I like my mornings relaxing and calm, and that is exactly how they are in my classroom! "How?" Well, it all started with a little idea called the Morning Work Binder. And I will give you the tools to transform YOUR mornings! 
A little background on the Morning Work Binder: 
I created this Morning Work binder after the headache of "What do I do in the morning to keep my students busy without too many questions, so I can do the fifty million things I have to finish before 8:00?"

I had tried everything: whiteboards, reading at your seat, worksheets, sight word flashcards, etc. I was tired of making copies and trying to keep my early students occupied while I was helping the later students arrive and get settled. Worksheets didn't always work because I would have the earlier finishers, and the ones who were still working although I wanted to start our day. There wouldn't be time to finish later and half of the worksheets would be thrown away. What a waste of paper! The books, flashcards, whiteboards, etc became a headache with students becoming bored, drawing on the whiteboards, not having the right sight words, etc. I was sick and tired of the morning work dilemma.

Then, I had an idea! The one center activity that my students could work on forever was a dry erase handwriting sheet. Give a student a dry erase marker and they were as happy as a clam! I tweaked this to do the same thing but during the morning work time and organize it into a binder. I have used this Morning Work Binder for the past 4 years as our morning work! 
How to set up the Morning Work Binder:
You will need:
Binders or folders
Sheet protectors
Dry Erase Markers
Kindergarten Morning Work Binder or First Grade Morning Work Binder

I use these 1/2 inch binders and sheet protectors, however you could also laminate the pages or use a three pronged folder. At Open House, I always ask the parents to donate sheet protectors, and usually this alone gives me enough! A few sheet protectors may have to be replaced throughout the year, but there is minimal upkeep involved. 

When deciding on the pages I would use, I focused on handwriting, writing their name, sight words, and numbers for the beginning of the year. Halfway through, I added the hundreds chart, calendar, word families, and phonics pages. The binder would be far too full if you added every single page, so I like to keep it to about 15 pages (printed front to back)

To put it together, I just slide each page into the sheet protector and then into the binder. I always do it over the summer with a glass of wine and a good Netflix show. This seems to make the process go faster! . However, if you have parent volunteers, this is a great job for them to do in the beginning of the year. 
How to implement it in your classroom: 
First of all, strong classroom management and procedures go a LOOOOOOONG way when working through your day. In the beginning of the year, I have everything planned out to the minute and procedures to go along with every part of the day. So, when implementing your Morning Work Binder, you have to have a SOLID procedure. It will save a lot of time answering silly questions or students being off task. 

Here is my morning procedure with the morning work binder:
1. Students come in, greet the teacher, and unpack their backpack. 
2. Students take out their Morning Work Binder and look at the board to see which page they are working on. (I put it on the SMART Board, under the Doc Cam, or hang it on the whiteboard.) 
3. Students get a black expo marker and start working. Once they finish the page once, they erase it, and do it again.
4. When it it time to start the day, a one minute clean up timer will go off. They will erase their page, clean up their binders, put them back where they belong and make sure they close up the marker caps tightly. 

We also establish these expectations: 
•If they have questions about what to do, they "Ask 3, then me". There is always a student who can help them, before they ask me.
•If they finish, they can complete the page again, for example the handwriting pages can be erased and worked on again. Or, they make work on a handwriting or numbers page. Sometimes I will write a "Must Do, Can Do" on the board. 

How to teach your students to work on it independently: 
It's Kindergarten and it will take time and patience until the students are able to work on it independently. Be patient and be flexible. I didn't start using it until about a week into the school year. I wanted the students to be "pros" at their morning procedure. Adding the Morning Work Binder was easy once they had the routine down. 

The first day I showed them the binder and explained why they would be working on it everyday. They were SO excited to use Expo markers and to get their own binder. We flipped through the pages and talked about what to do on each page briefly. 

Every day, I would show them how to work on a new page during our Reading Whole Group time. We would work on it together a few times, answer any questions they had, and quickly go over the procedure. The next morning, they would do that same page from the day before. By this time, they were able to do it almost independently. This process took about 2 weeks, but after those two weeks, they were pros! 

You can find both grade levels here:

If you want to see more on how I use it in my classroom, you can check out a full video preview

Thanks for stopping by! I hope this helps your mornings transform from chaos to calm!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, which is no additional cost to you. I only recommend products that I use and love! 

1 comment

  1. This is interesting, thanks for sharing your ideas, you can also try these kindergarten math games :) xoxo