11 Essential Classroom Morning Routines to set up for Success!

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Setting up effective classroom morning routines in elementary just might be the most important thing you do for a successful year. Hyperbole? I’m not so sure…

The most engaging, wonderful lessons won’t reach your students if you haven’t set up the calm, organized, positive learning environment your students need to be able to focus on the work you provide.

Why morning routine is important in the classroom?

The first few minutes of the day set the tone for the rest of the day so it is crucial that you begin each day in a positive, friendly and calm manner. Having a well-planned morning routine for the classroom allows this to happen while still being able to take care of the myriad administration tasks that need to happen.

Get your free classroom morning routine checklist now!

Download a free PDF checklist of the 11 classroom morning routine ideas every teacher should consider and have planned from day one.

Use it as you set up your classroom and prepare at the start of the school year to ensure a smooth start to each day!

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How to Teach an Effective Morning Routine for Elementary Students

We’re going to explore the 10 classroom morning procedures in detail below but first, let’s look at how to teach your classroom routines in upper elementary.

Organizing the Classroom Areas

This one isn’t technically a routine but it is vital to letting your classroom morning routines run smoothly.

Before your students even enter, you need to have an organized space with a space for everything students will be bringing or needing. Consider where homework will go, notes from parents, agendas, student work etc…

Plan Each Part of Your Routine For Students

Carefully consider your morning routine minute by minute and think about what you want students to be doing, and what could derail your plan, at every step of the way.

Being able to clearly explain exactly what students are expected to do will go a long way towards them successfully doing it.

Teach one at a time and practice

Start with one routine, introduce it and take the time to practise and review so students can really master it.

We’ve all been there (no, just me?) and have excitedly tried to implement a laundry list of classroom routines and procedures at one time. And then we can’t figure out why it’s not a raging success…

Resist the temptation and go slow. Consider which routine is the absolute must for the 2nd of school and build from there.

11 Classroom Morning Routine Ideas

So what are those morning routine ideas for the classroom to consider? This will change for every teacher and grade but I do believe that each of the ten below should be considered, even if you ultimately decide it doesn’t apply to your classroom.

Entering the Classroom

First things first. How do you want your students to enter the classroom? Where will their bags go? Does your school have indoor shoes? Where will lunches go? How will students behave as they enter the room? What are your expectations for students as they come into the classroom in the morning?

Independent Student Task Upon Entry

It’s a great idea to have a specific task, or choice of tasks, that your students need to do completely independently as soon as they enter the class.

Students will be ready to start at different times so you never want the quicker students to be unoccupied while they wait for the late entries! It can be as simple as independent reading, drawing/colouring, a puzzle or other open ended task.


Every teacher needs to take attendance as quickly as possible every morning for safety among other reasons. Think about what you want this to look like.

You could have students respond to their names as a class. You could ask a question and have students call their answer. You could have an attendance board where students move their name as they enter the classroom. You could quietly submit it while students work…

Collecting Forms and Money

Frequently, students have forms, notes or even money to hand in when they arrive. Perhaps there is a field trip coming up, book fair or fundraising. In any case, have a system in place for collecting these things.

Personally, with grades 4 to 6, I have students place them on my desk first thing in the morning. I’ve had a tub some years and other years they just put them right on my teacher binder.

Checking Agendas

Many schools have student agendas that are used daily. If that’s you, you’re going to want to know how you plan on managing and checking agendas. I like to have students place their agendas on their desk, open to the correct day. Then I take a quick walk around and check that there are no parent notes or anything else I need to see.

In other classrooms, you may have students put their agendas is a specific spot.

If you don’t have agendas, think about where and how you’re going to make sure you see any notes from parents.

Collecting Homework

If your school assigns homework (ours has moved away from this), then you’re going to need a system in order to collect it. This should definitely be one of your well-practiced classroom morning procedures. Elementary classrooms can quickly be overrun by paper (ask me how I know…) if we don’t create a spot for everything. Then practice using it.

Morning work

There are so many classroom morning routine ideas around morning work and I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do this. The key is being predictable for students to know exactly what to do and when.

I like to start the mornings with Literacy bellwork (or bell ringers) as I try to have my literacy block in the morning too. Many teachers use this time to spiral math practice or have a journal.

If you plan on having students start on their morning work as soon as they enter, I would strongly recommend you have an ‘if finished’ activity built into the morning procedure. Refer back to the soft start tasks above.

Daily Agenda

Having a daily agenda posted in the classroom is important for students to know what to expect when and be prepared. It is especially important for our students who struggle with change and transitions.

Do you want to go over it with your students? Do you want to build it together? Do you want to just quickly mention anything that is a break from normal?

Gaining students’ attention

All the morning procedures mentioned above should be running on auto-pilot, allowing you a chance to perform those housekeeping tasks like attendance and collecting money. But how will your students know when it is time to stop and listen?

What signal will you have that tells them this and what are your expectations for when they hear/see this signal?

Consider something that is calm and gives them time to redirect their attention. There are so many options that can work depending on age and group of students. I find having a few go-to options is ideal as some work better with different student groups and different activities.

It is also important to consider what you want students to do. Should they just stop and freeze? Should they put their work away then listen? Should they move to an area of the classroom?

There is no one right way to do this, but carefully considering your options, then painstakingly teaching and practising the routine will make a huge difference. Be sure to give plenty of positive reinforcement when students do it successfully too!

Classroom Culture – greet, discussion, question, morning message…

Building a positive learning environment where students feel safe and happy is crucial. Build some time into the morning routine for your classroom where students can interact in a non-academic way.

Some ideas to build a positive classroom include:

  • greeting each student personally,
  • building in some time for students to chat together about things they’ve been up to,
  • developing a morning meeting routine
  • allowing for some students to share things that are important to them,
  • discussing mindset,
  • giving students a way to signal how they are feeling today,
  • play a quick cooperative game…

Transitioning to Work Time

Transitions can be are hard for students. Consider how you want students to move from the morning routine to start their first work block. Where are their materials going to be kept? What if pencils need to be sharpened? How much time will you give students to prepare and settle?

Once again, this will look different for every classroom but the key to success is to have it planned and organized in advance.

Morning Classroom Routine Examples

In my class, the morning routine looks different every year. I improve my systems each year, plus my students have different needs. However, here is the basic format that gets more or less repeated to give you an example of what it all might look like:

  1. Enter the hallway and put their belongings on their hook and change into indoor shoes.
  2. I meet students in the hall and greet each of them as they enter the class (and check they have everything).
  3. Bring everything they need for the morning into class.
  4. Quietly go straight to their desk and put their things away.
  5. Hand in any homework, forms or money in the appropriate places.
  6. Open their agenda to today’s page and leave out on desk.
  7. Complete the writing morning work always found on the easel.
  8. When finished, read a book silently.
  9. After I have taken attendance and checked notes/forms/money, we put our reading books away and check the bell work.
  10. Take a few moments to ask how everyone is, anything exciting to share, any changes to our day’s agenda….
  11. Transition into our first work period of the day.

Would you like a classroom morning routine checklist?

Download a free PDF checklist of the 11 classroom morning routine ideas every teacher should consider and have planned from day one.

Use it as you set up your classroom and prepare at the start of the school year to ensure a smooth start to each day!

* indicates required
Clipboard with checklist of classroom morning routines.

Having consistent and predictable classroom morning procedures in elementary is an important step toward creating a safe, calm and welcoming learning environment for all students. Students will know what to expect, what is expected of them, and feel more prepared to be successful.

What is your morning routine that starts your day off right?

Pin these classroom morning routines for reference!

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