Preschool Morning Work Tubs: Tips and Ideas

Arrival time can be a stressful part of the preschool day! With your attention being pulled in many different directions, it’s essential for your preschoolers to have an engaging morning routine. The key is to use arrival activities doesn’t require much intervention or instruction from you, which can be a challenge in the preschool setting! This is why I love Preschool Morning Work Tubs!  In this post, I will share everything you need to get your day started on the right foot with engaging activities.

What is Preschool Morning Work?

Preschool morning work is an arrival activity for preschoolers that helps them ease into the learning routine. The activities are self-directed and typically involve age-appropriate learning tasks that students can complete with minimal assistance. Morning work activities can help your students practice important literacy and math skills as they get ready for a day of learning.

Tips for Setting Up Preschool Morning Work Tubs

1. Keep It Simple

One of the most important parts of preschool morning work is to keep the activities simple and straightforward.  Students should know exactly what they need to do when they sit down.  It’s great for mindset and motivation to start the day with independence and success!

Simple activities are also easier to set up each morning and can be cleaned up more quickly. Just put everything students will need into a small tray or tub. You can have the tubs distributed around the classroom so they are ready to go as students arrive.  Then the tubs can easily be tucked away until the next morning.

Glue bottle themed counting task cards

2. Make It Durable

I always suggest laminating morning work tub activities to make them more durable.  This will make your morning work activities last longer, but it also makes it easier for little hands to grip the task cards.  Laminated morning work cards are also perfect for dry-erase skill practice! Of course, there is the added bonus of being able to wipe down the activity cards to keep germs at bay.

3. Use a Rotation

You might decide to allow students to choose their own morning work tubs, but I highly suggest assigning tubs using a rotation.  This helps to ensure that students get a chance to do each activity during the week.  Plus, it can cut down on potential conflicts when multiple students want to do the same activity.

Assigning two children to each tub is a great option!  It helps to keep the noise level down while giving students the chance to support and interact with each other.  You can set up a pocket chart with one number card for each morning work tub.  Then you can place each student’s picture next to the assigned tub number.  Each morning, students will know to look at the chart to see which tub they will be working on that morning.

4. Time It Right

Road-themed letter tracing cards

Finally, the key to a successful morning work routine is to time it right.  You want to give students enough time to trickle in, get settled, and reap the benefits of participating in the activity. You also want to be ready to move on with your day’s activities, so you don’t want morning work time to take too long.

For example, you might decide to have the tubs out for the first 15 to 20 minutes of the day. This gives all students the chance to get their backpacks put away and get settled at their tables.  If students complete their morning work activity before the time is up, you can have some additional “fast finisher” stations set up around the room. 

You might also decide to assign students the same tub for two days in a row.  This ensures that they have had time to really understand and succeed with the activity before moving on to another one.

The Best Morning Work for Preschool

When it comes to deciding on activities to put in your morning work tubs, there are a few types of activities that are always a hit with students!  

Sorting picture cards by color
  • Sorting: There are so many concepts that students can practice through sorting! Some of my favorites for morning work tubs are sorting by color, shape, and size.  Students can improve their visual discrimination skills through sorting activities, as well!
  • Tracing: Learning how to grip and use a writing utensil is an essential skill for preschoolers to practice!  Students can trace lines, shapes, letters, numbers, and their names during morning work time. The best part of dry-erase tracing activities is that they are open-ended. Students can simply erase the card and try again!
  • Counting: As your preschoolers learn how to count objects and demonstrate one-to-one correspondence, you can incorporate counting activities into the morning routine.  You can increase engagement by switching out the manipulatives and adding other elements, such as tweezers!
Adding white pom poms to a glue bottle with tweezers
  • Matching: Another fun way to practice skills during morning work time is by using matching activities. Whether students are matching uppercase letters to lowercase letters or quantities to the correct numerals, they can benefit from generalizing their knowledge to matching activities.
  • Play Dough: Morning work is one of the best times to break out the play dough! It keeps students engaged at the table as they practice their fine motor skills.  Just add laminated mats to a tub with some play dough for a highly-engaging arrival activity!  Students can roll out play dough to create letters and numbers on their mats.
Building the letter R with play dough

Preschool Morning Work Printables

I have created a set of preschool morning work printables that you can use for low-prep morning work tubs all year long! They cover a wide range of literacy and math skills that follow a natural progression through the preschool standards.  You can quickly and easily find activities that supplement your curriculum and get each day started on the right foot!

If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource,  you can click below to find it in my shop.

Save These Tips for Preschool Morning Tubs

Be sure to save this post if you’d like to come back to these preschool morning work tips and resources! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest.  You’ll be able to quickly find this post when you’re deciding on arrival activities for your preschool classroom!

Fun and engaging morning work tubs for preschool