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Math Ideas for Morning Tubs

Mornings in the kindergarten classroom can be some kind of crazy! You are likely juggling ALL THE THINGS…greeting your students, answering emails, and getting your lunch count just to name a few. This is why morning routines and procedures are so important.

With kindergarten being one of the first school experiences for many of our students, we have the chance to teach a calm, organized routine that helps students review skills right when they arrive.

Last year, many of our young learners had so much technology time while we looked for safe, indoor learning experiences.

We know that hands-on learning is crucial to our students’ academic and motor development.

And the great news is, you don’t have to find more time to fit these activities in- you have the perfect time slot in your schedule that is just waiting for hands-on learning. . . MORNING ARRIVAL TIME!

What are Morning Tubs?

Morning tubs are easily accessible activities that students can work on independently when they arrive to class in the morning. The learning activity and all the supplies needed for it all fit inside of a tub. This way students can grab the tub with everything they need, and they can get right to work!

Why Use Morning Tubs?

Incorporate fun math practice into your morning routine with math morning tubs.

Morning tubs are a great for academic practice, and they also work as a classroom management tool. When you begin your day seamlessly with a set morning procedure, you set the tone for the rest of the day. This really helps you to be able to function and even thrive first thing, despite the morning madness!

As your kiddos learn to complete the activities on their own, you take care of other administrative tasks. This is why it’s important to include skills and concepts your students have already know. Morning tubs should be a practice or review time, otherwise your students will have a harder time working independently and you will again find yourself being split in too many directions!

I have found it best to introduce morning tub time during the very first few weeks of school. Arrival time and morning work is one of the first procedures that I teach my class. As students enter my room they put their backpacks and lunchboxes away, make a lunch choice if needed, and grab a morning tub to work on. At the beginning of the year, morning tubs include simple exploring manipulatives we have in our classroom.

What kind of tubs should I use?

There is not one specific type of tub that should be used. Anything that can hold the material and is easy for your students to grab works! You can use plastic tubs or bins, boxes, zip-lock bags or even trays. When choosing the tubs, I like to make sure that it meets all of these requirements: easy for students to carry, holds all the needed supplies, easy for students to open, fits in the space where morning tubs are stored. There’s no right or wrong tub – unless, of course, it causes you more questions or more work by having to help open or move activities.

I always find great containers at the Dollar Store, on Amazon, and in the Target Dollar Spot. You can see my favorite organization tools and containers here.

Morning Tub Management

Learn how I manage my morning tubs and grab a few math ideas for morning tubs as well.

There are many different ways that you can manage your morning tubs. Find the best routine that works for you and your class. Students can complete their tubs individually, or you may want them to work together in partners.

In my classroom, I like to have them work with partners. This allows them to discuss the activity with each other and answer each others questions. I have found that if I try to do groups of more than two the noise level gets to loud.

I use a pocket chart to let my students know which tub they are working on and who their partner is. Printing out their cute little pictures is so much fun! I like to rotate tubs every two or three days. This lets my kids have a few days to complete the activities. Once every group has completed all of the tubs, it is time to switch them out with new activities.

Morning Tub Time Frame

You may be wondering exactly how long this is going to take each morning. I have found 15 minutes to be the sweet spot for me. This lets my kids come in, unpack, and work on their tub. It also gives me enough time to finish any extra task I am trying to get to before my teaching day begins. You will need to find the magic number that works for you. It may be different than mine and that is totally okay!

Math Tubs for the Beginning of the Year

This number identification and counting morning tub activity is great for the beginning of the school year.

Remember that the goal here is for students to work independently so that you have some time to complete your morning tasks. This can be difficult at the beginning of the year. You have not covered a lot of concepts and students do not have experience with the different tools and manipulatives. No worries, I build “Morning Tub Lessons” into our day.

At first, you will have to model procedures and activities for morning tubs. During the first few weeks of school, we talk about Morning Tubs and practice the tubs students will see the next day. This gives me an opportunity to model the activity and expectation, and students to practice while I am available to help. We repeat this each day with a different activity, or two. By the end of the first week, we’ve learned 5-10 new morning tub activities and students are able to jump in each morning.

These beginning of the year math morning tubs will help your students with foundational math skills

All of the activities for Beginning of the Year Morning Tubs include concepts and activities that your kindergartners will be able to complete on their own. They practice skills like number identification, number tracing, and counting at the beginning of the year. You can also incorporate colors, shapes and other skills that students are generally familiar with before starting kindergarten.

I’m sure you have tons of ideas that you can use for beginning of the year morning tubs. But wouldn’t it be nice to have them already done for you? It’ll save you so much time and effort.

I’ve created a complete set of Morning Tubs for the Beginning of the Year. All the activities are included. Just print, laminate and pair with the needed supplies and you are ready.

Math Tubs for the Middle of the Year

this place value morning math tub is a great activity for the middle of the year

As the year progresses and new skills are learned, you can change out your activities to include more skills. Again, I introduce the activity, we practice it whole class, then add it to centers and morning tubs. This way I know my students are prepared when they go to practice the skill on their own.

Math skills and concepts can also stay in the morning tub rotation. This is a great way to build in a hands-on spiral review into the primary classroom. Once the class has mastered a skill I take it out or use is less often. This makes room in the rotation for the new skills we are learning. It’s a great way to provide the specific practice the students need.

These are some of my favorite middle of the year morning tub skills and activities to review:

Students can work on basic addition with visuals using this math morning tub
  • Number tracing practice
  • Building and writing numbers
  • Numbers 1-20
  • Simple equations
  • Number bonds
  • Manipulating patterns
  • Spinning and solving equations
  • Counting and matching teen numbers
  • Building teen numbers

Remember to use any and all skills your students have learned so far! You can also find the Middle of the Year Morning Tubs in my shop.

End of the Year Morning Tub Ideas for Math

students can build and solve addition problems

By the last few months of the school year, students are masters at morning tubs! We are able to provide extra practice on skills students might be struggling with but also challenging them and moving them forward with new skills. At the end of the year, we focus on:

  • Ten Frames & Teen Numbers
  • Basic Addition
  • Basic Subtraction
  • Story Problems

It’s also great to continue to incorporate skills that you’ve covered from the entire school year. These morning tubs really are the perfect spiral review for your kiddos. You can even differentiate their learning by assigning tubs to kids who need extra practice with a certain skill. I love when I can easily meet the individual needs of all of my students.

Check out my End of the Year Morning Tubs in my shop!

Math Morning Tubs Bundle

this shape matching morning math tub is a great matching activity for basic shapes

I hope you are just as excited as I am about using morning tubs in your classroom. They are fairly easy to use and have so many benefits like being a spiral review, providing a great morning routine, and even helping with classroom management.

If you think you want to incorporate morning tubs into your daily classroom routine then I have the perfect bundle for you! My Yearlong Morning Tubs Bundle has everything you need for math and literacy morning tubs for the entire school year!

It includes all of the activities I mentioned above as well as literacy morning tub activities. I also included material for setting up and managing the tubs. Your entire year of morning tubs activities will be ready to go for years to come!

Pin it!

Be sure to save this pin to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back any time you need ideas for Morning Tubs or other kindergarten classroom activities.