Building a Better Morning with Morning Tubs-An Update

Last summer, as I prepared to move from fifth grade to first grade, I began thinking about how I wanted my students to begin their day.  I knew I did not want to do worksheets.  So, I wrote a post about my plans for morning tubs.  The post includes pictures and links to the task cards in the tubs.  This post will cover how I implemented the tubs and how they’re working for us now.

Phase One

When I first implemented the tubs, I placed a different tub on each grouping of desks.  Students stayed at their desks and worked on the tub I chose for them.  That first month, my first graders were pretty quiet as they worked.  They also worked alone.  No real collaboration going on.

Phase Two

Once we were successful with Phase One, we moved  into Phase Two.  At this point I allowed the first person who sat at a particular grouping of desks to get a tub that they would like their group to work on that morning.  I did request that if the same person in the group was always in the classroom first, that they did not choose the same tub each day. This worked well, and as students got to know  each other better, they began to talk with each other more.  However, they were still building their own creations, which was fine, I was just happy they were talking to one another more.

Phase Three

The second phase was a success, so I decided to see what would happen if I allowed students to not only choose their tub, but also where they worked.  The only requirement was that the number of students had to equal the number of chairs at a desk or table, even if they planned on standing.  So, a student may end up not at their own desk for morning work tubs.  Students were told that they had to politely ask the child working at their desk to move for a moment so that they could put their binders in their desk.  Also, if you worked at someone else’s desk then you had to bring a chair to that desk for them.  This has worked well.  Students are definitely talking more and they are collaborating more.  During this phase we also introduced Seesaw to our morning tubs.  Students can take pictures of their work and even add audio recording and written captions.  This has been a great way to show their families what they are creating in school.

What I’ve Noticed and Learned

My kids are definitely happy when they start their day, and they are ready for the rest of the day.  They’ve had a chance to talk with their friends and play.  All they while they are learning how to share, settle any disagreements, help one another  out, and collaborate.  These are all skills that are necessary, and can’t be learned through a worksheet.

If a tub is not cared for or put away correctly, then it goes into retirement for a while.  It doesn’t happen too often, but makes the point very clear that they are responsible for taking care of classroom materials.

I will routinely retire some tubs, so that students try new tubs.  The goal is to get them to try out new tubs, and to stretch their creativity.  I don’t want them getting into a rut.

I do morning tubs even if there is a substitute.  All the feedback has been positive, and it’s one thing that day that is normal in their routine.

I’ve asked them if they want me to create different tubs that I’ve seen on Pinterest where the tubs change monthly, or change by them.  They said no.  They told me they weren’t bored, and liked what we had.  It’s their morning, so I listen to them.  The only thing I did add was the Osmo once we got it.  They love it, and care for it so well.

Parting Thoughts

If you’re even slightly considering implementing morning tubs, do it!  Begin with items you already have in your classroom.  Go to my original post for ideas, or look on Pinterest.  There’s lots of inexpensive ideas out there. There are also different schools of thought on what they should be.  Mine are centered more on building and creating.  I have task cards in there, but most students prefer to design freely, and that’s fine with me.  However, I have seen a lot of tubs focused on academics.  You really just need to decide what your philosophy or purpose for tubs are.

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