How To Utilize Hands On Morning Work in the Primary Classroom (during a pandemic!)

Updated: Feb 16



Giving your student's the opportunity to have hands on morning work is what we all want. Being able to do it (especially during a pandemic) takes a bit more finesse.


What can they touch? What can't they touch or share? How often do you need to make sure things stay "quarantined" or are wiped down? How am I supposed to give my students this opportunity with little to no supplies? ALL of these questions are valid and things that even I myself wondered at the beginning of the school year. What I DID know, though, was that I was going to do whatever I could to make school a place where my kids wanted to be in spite of all that is going on in the world and the restrictions that are now put on us.


Ok cool great, wonderful but how do I accomplish this?


Insert Maker boxes. These have been an integral part of our morning routine this year. Each student has their own and inside each box are supplies to help them build, imagine, investigate, and create. Since each student has their own supplies that only they touch there is usually very little cleaning on your part as the teacher!


What is a Maker Box?


A maker box is a box that holds all of the supplies that my students can use when they come in, in the morning to complete their morning work. I purchased my boxes at the Dollar Tree but you can use any type of box or even large ziplock bag to store your students individual materials. Inside each student's box I put index cards, legos, a lego baseplate, snowflakes (brain flakes some people call them!) tape, playdoh, and a ring of task cards in case they got stuck on what they wanted to build that day. My task cards are from Brooke Brown's store and you can find them here.


How Do I Set This Up In The Least Expensive Way?


Putting your maker boxes (or bags) together does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. As a matter of fact, don't let it! Many of the things that I put into each of my students boxes I already had on hand in our classroom and pulled them from our Maker Space. The other thing is that family members love to help out. Make an Amazon wishlist and send family members the link (your own or others). You can also apply for a Walmart community grant and get money to shop at Walmart and fund your class this way. I have applied the past 4 years and have received an amount each year to spend in my room and this has helped immensely! You can find the link for the Walmart community grant here.


If getting each student their own box isn't in the cards use a large ziplock bag and write or put a label with their name on the outside. Items that you can find in multi packs at the Dollar Tree are...

  • Playdough

  • Notecards

  • Tape

  • Building Blocks

  • Mini baseplates

  • Pipe Cleaners

  • Popsicle Sticks

I have found that if you are looking to buy a large amount of building blocks or snowflakes that Amazon is the better alternative to the Dollar Tree or Target versions. You get more for your money!


Now That I'm Set Up How Do I Implement?


Now that you have all of your maker boxes set up with the items that you want your students to have its time to start using them!


I use Google Slides daily and always have a slide up on our smart board for when the students come in. It tell's my student's their morning routine and also what their morning work challenge is that morning. I always try to make it a design themed challenge that ties into what we are learning at the time. If you need some ideas to get started I've created a list of some ideas to help. Grab it here!


Once my students have built their creations and designs I often times let them utilize apps such as PicCollage, ChatterPix Kids, and Seesaw to add to or enhance their designs. They also love to put their work into their online learning journals via Seesaw!


Next Steps


Now that you are all set up with how to initiate individual maker boxes (or bags), what to put inside and how to use them you are good to go! I would love to see and hear how you use a maker box or bag in your hands on morning work routine! Your student's will always know that they will have a creative and hands on start to their day and be able to express themselves individually as well as who you what they know. What more can you ask for?!

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