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5 Morning Work Ideas for Upper Elementary Grades

Let’s face it. Morning work routines can be tough in the elementary classroom. You’re busy gathering parent notes, collecting papers, taking lunch count, answering messages, and making sure your students are ready to go for the day. It’s a LOT to keep track of!

Get great morning work ideas for 3rd, 4th, 5th, and middle school grades. Make morning work routines meaningful and fun for upper elementary students with paperless morning work slides that are no prep. Try writing, math, and reading activities to increase learning with your morning work. Includes access to FREE morning work slides!

My advice is to keep it simple AND keep it consistent. When students arrive knowing exactly what is expected the moment they walk through the classroom doorway, it helps everything to run more smoothly. Taking any guesswork out of the morning routine is key.

Here are five suggestions for morning work ideas and routines in the upper elementary grades.

Morning Work Ideas:

  1. Projectable Morning Work:
    Morning Work Ideas

    This might be my very favorite option for a consistent morning work routine. It’s quite simple and requires zero prep. All you have to do is either project the day’s Morning Work slide onto your Smartboard or even share with your students (if your students have devices). Each slide includes a quote of the day, word of the day, grammar question, sentence editing, math word problem, quick math problem, and math skill review problem.

    I created this resource to help teachers and students have a smoother transition into a fun academic day, and it has done just that! Try a FREE Week of Projectable Morning Work and see how easy it is to use. Click here for FREE 3rd Grade Morning Work, 4th Grade Morning Work, and 5th Grade Morning Work.

  2. Writing Prompts:

    While this morning work option has been around for a long time, it’s still reliable and a winner in my book. You provide a writing prompt, and students respond to the prompt in a writing journal. I always struggled to quickly craft a fun prompt that my students would relate to, so a couple of years ago, I created Writing Prompt Task Cards for each month of the year. It saves so much time! If you have a document camera, you can project a task card onto your board. You can also let students choose their own task card from the month’s collection!

  3. Math Problem of the Day:
    Morning Work Ideas

    This morning work idea is great if you only have a very short block of time each morning. You provide one math problem. Students either copy the problem and solve it in their math journal. You can also require them to solve on a sheet of paper and turn it in each morning. I personally prefer the math journal, which I collected each Friday and did a quick check on it. I recently made a 5th Grade Projectable Math Problem of the Day, which is not only colorful and fun, but it builds on math skills throughout the year.

  4.   Journal Writing and Drawing:

    This simple morning work routine is a great way for students to get their thoughts and feelings out on paper before they begin their academic day. So many students come to school with heavy burdens. Writing and drawing can be therapeutic for these young friends.

  5. Close Reading Passage of the Week:

    If your students (like most students) need to develop their reading comprehension skills, a high-interest Close Reading Passage of the Week is PERFECT for morning work! Check out this FREE History of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Close Reading Passage. Students will complete a task each day of the week based on the same passage:

Day 1: Read the passage for the first time, annotate, and answer surface level questions.

Day 2: Read the passage for the second time and identify 3-4 unfamiliar vocabulary words.

Day 3: Read the passage a third time and answer deeper level questions.

Day 4: Identify the main idea and supporting details.

Day 5: Summarize the passage.

Get your FREE Close Reading passage and worksheets today!!
Download your free Close Reading packet now. Serve with cookies and milk. Your students will love you for life.
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Morning Work Ideas

If you’d like to learn more about what Close Reading is and how it can help your readers improve their comprehension, check out my 6 Steps to Close Reading blog post.

And don’t forget the idea of a morning meeting.  I know you might think that is only for younger kids, but it’s not.  Check out this post of using a morning meeting in upper elementary.

No matter which morning routine you choose for your students and your classroom, just make sure that you consistently follow it. Students need to know that there is a familiar process in place that they can count on.

It will also save you many headaches and repeated explanations. Teach the process, model it, and then enforce it. In the long run, it will help you with classroom management. It will also help your students with feeling comfortable and improving academically.

Any of these resources from my TpT Store make great morning work routines:

Shelly Rees

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I'm Shelly Rees of Appletastic Learning. First and foremost, I'm a mom of 4 boys, wife of 25 years to Aric, and Wyoming girl at heart. I love being creative, making resources for teachers, baking cookies, Diet Coke, teaching, public speaking, and spreading kindness wherever I can. After teaching in the upper elementary grades for over 23 years, I retired early and focused on creating and helping teachers around the world with my teaching ideas and resources. I also serve as a mentor to hundreds of teacherpreneurs and help them get focused on growing their own successful businesses. With 100% honesty, I LOVE my life! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. Read More

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