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Meaningful and Engaging Morning Work for K-2!

A while back I wrote about one of my favorite daily activities - MORNING WORK - and how I do it in my classroom. Check it out here: Does it Really Take 30 Minutes to Wake Up?

I truly detest "busy work" but at the same time we need something for the kiddos to do that is review in nature while gently nudging them along to use that schema that we've been helping them master each and every day. AND, the simple truth is there are quite a few things that need to be taken care of in the morning and those little ones need to be busy so we can get it all done!

We call our morning work - Morning Wake Up. This is why I love it and do it every.single.day:
It builds in complexity.
It provides ample time for practice.
It covers both ELA and Math.
It is all on one sheet.
It is always "familiar" in nature so little prior instruction is needed.
The routine is simple even when the concept is challenging.
It makes a significant difference in their concept mastery.

As I wrote in Does it Really Take 30 Minutes to Wake Up, it's the grading of this work that is important. I don't collect it daily. In fact, we have ours bound in books and in the kids' desks. The kiddos grade it. They tell me the answers by telling me why the other answers were incorrect choices. We make this time meaningful. They work for about 10 to 15 minutes independently and then we work on explaining (or fixing) our answers for another 15 to 20 minutes. Check out that post to find out more about that.

Here are some sample pages from our first grade Morning Wake Up book.

The format stays the same. There isn't a change in routine so we don't waste time teaching how to do the page. Every once in a while a new concept comes in. I spend a few moments reviewing that concept before they start and then let them go. I'm so thrilled with their work and progress. They are so proud when it "clicks" and they can even attend to the challenges of something new without me telling them about it!

I've been fortunate enough to work with the same friends for well over a decade. One of those friends teaches our school's Kinder/1st combo class. She told me that Kinder truly needed their own Morning Wake Up. I was super excited to make that for them (and all you kinder teachers, too)! After all, if those Kinder's master the standards through daily practice, they'll show up at our first grade door next year all the more ready!

Here are a few samples from Kindergarten's year of Morning Wake Up.
The depth of complexity builds throughout the year. It starts with simple line and curve formations... moves on to letter and number identity and all the way through doing simple math and reading simple sentences!

Another friend taught in first grade with me for FOREVER until she moved to 2nd.

The only thing she missed in 2nd? Morning Wake Up. So I set off to make she and the rest of our 2nd grade team morning work that allowed their kiddos to master those 2nd grade skills. It has really worked out well for our 2nd grade team because those kiddos are used to doing this type of thing daily since they did it every day in first grade!

So far I've completed units 1 and 2 for second grade. Unit 3 is underway.

Here are some examples from those first two 2nd grade units:

Regardless of grade, each task has the standard it is addressing indicated right there on the page. This makes it that much easier to ensure you are "hitting the standards". This makes admin and district personnel pretty happy too! These units also come with a TEACHER GUIDE that includes a "how to" as well as a scope and sequence.

I absolutely love our morning work. I love that so many other teachers do, too! It has made such a huge impact with concept mastery with our primary kiddos!

Morning Wake Up is a great way to ensure you have engaged kiddos right from the start of your day!






Interactive Notebooks on the Fly

Every once in a while there are those days when everything you planned kind of goes out the window.

The concept you thought they "got", they really don't have.

The practice you thought had been "enough", really just skimmed the surface.

Moving on just isn't going to work out.

This week I had one of those days.

I realized that we were going to need to spend a LOT more time on parts of speech and that all the work we had done previously hadn't been enough to cement the concept.

So I dumped my plans rearranged a few things and we made little books. Then, we took some notes. We simply created a whole interactive notebook on the fly! Completing these books helped the kiddos truly grasp the concepts. EVERYTHING in them was done by them. Even the construction of the books!
These are quick and easy to make, don't need any stapling, and hold together perfectly.

Here's how:

Start with a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and scissors. 
Fold that paper in half  twice... along the 8 1/2 x 11 side.
Then fold the whole thing in half the other direction.
Unfold so it is only in half - the first fold you made - then look of the fold line that goes from the center to the fold line. I've highlighted it green here.
Cut that line. Stop at the fold.
Open it up and fold in half lengthwise. Begin to push the two sides toward each other and your book will start to fold itself!
Its ready to use for anything you wish. This works at any grade level for any subject!

And that's it. You can use these little books for just about anything.  You can glue in little images. Journal about math. They are great for a "show what you know" assessment activity. The more you do it, the quicker your kiddos will be at creating them. With my firsties, I had to fold the paper for them the first few times we've made these so they can see where the fold lines are. Now they can follow along folding while I show them each step and often make their own books during word work or free choice!

I'm all about keeping it simple and quick!

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