30 Morning Tub Ideas for Primary Students


Mornings seem to come way too fast! I know in my classroom that my kiddos need time to eat their breakfast and complete something at their desks before settling in for any whole group work. Is it the same for you? Are you reading notes from families, getting last-minute prep done, and a ton of other things, and your students come in wound for sound? Have you thought about using Morning Tub time?

I have discovered that Morning Tub time is that perfect transition activity between home and learning. My students are engaged in meaningful activities while setting the stage for my exceptional teaching for the day.  You will find some great activities in this list of 30 Morning Tub Ideas and a few freebies. My favorite activities at Morning Tub time are #7, #,20, and #23. But I also can’t say no to freebies!

No Prep Needed Morning Tub Ideas

1. Jumbo Tweezers and Pom Poms. Have you got pom poms and tweezers? Then, you have a fun activity that can be sorting, counting, or just building hand strength.

2. Wikki Stix. My kids are so creative with wikki stix but occasionally, I will mix it up a little and have them create alphabet letters or spell out words.

3. Playdoh and ABC Mats. I love the organized use of play-doh. These Alphabet Mats are perfect for the students to be engaged. (And my OCD is kept at bay about play-doh on the carpeting!).

4. Legos. With legos, you can throw them in a morning tub and let the students build anything. Or, you can ask them to create specific things. Here is a freebie of task cards for legos.

Minimal Prep Needed for Morning Tub Ideas

5. Pattern Blocks.   From creating sight words to practicing symmetry or simply sorting, pattern blocks are versatile as a Morning Tub Idea.

6. Craft Sticks with Velcro. Colored craft sticks and velcros on end? Yep, another way for kiddos to be engaged and creative!

7. Dice Centers.  My kiddos cannot get enough of activities with dice. Worried the kiddos would roll the dice continually onto the floor? Have the students roll the dice in an upside-down frisbee!

Putting Even More Academics in Morning Tub Ideas

8. Magnet Letters for Build It, Write It. I give my students baking trays from the local dollar store, a list of words, and a piece of paper. They build the word and then write it. Or you can go DIGITAL! ETTC has Digital CVC Word Building!

This center gives your students a picture. They then drag the letters to the boxes to build the word. As a bonus, it has a self-check on each slide.

9. Domino Centers. With a domino morning tub, you could throw together some easy peasy math sheets or just let the STEM shine on through as they make a domino rally!

10. Dry Erase Markers and Laminated Sentence Strips. Let’s face it. We spend too much money in our rooms and too much time prepping. These sentence strips are from The Dollar Tree for only a buck! Once they are laminated, no more prep. Cheap and easy!

So Many Super-Engaging Ideas

11. Counting Teddy Bear Counters.  I bought my counting bears over 30 years ago as one of my first purchases (first of way too many) out of my pocket. At the time, they had minimal engagement with my kiddos. Now they are sometimes the ROCKSTARS of my Morning Tubs with these super-engaging activities!

12. Alphabet Unifex Cubes. Of course, the tallest stack is excellent, but I love watching my students rock out some CVC or sight words with these cubes!

13. Geoboards Freebie. My moment of truth: rather than teach my students how to use rubber bands safely, I passed my Geoboards on to a co-worker. Big mistake! Now, my students miss out on all the fun freebies of design cards!

14. A Tangrams Freebie (Pattern Blocks)So I have enough pattern blocks in my room for every child to use for a Morning Tub! So I tossed in this pattern block freebie link, but the patterns are solely copying designs.

15. Index Card Structures. If you have not yet tried Once Upon a Stem because you aren’t sure how it fits into your room, try this Index Card Structure! I dare you not to love how it fits beautifully into a Morning Tub Idea! You will see ETTC includes everything but the index cards!

And More Tub Ideas

16. K’Nex. I am not creative. And, engineering is complex for me. I am often blown away by the working machines my kiddos create with K’Nex without any instruction from me!

17. Bingo Chips/Daubers. Yes, I go to Bingo. Why? Because our Bingo Center has the coolest, yet best-priced, daubers anywhere. Do your students love dabbing (or do you say daubing) as much as mine? Check out these centers designed for daubers!

18. Snap Cubes/Unifex Cubes. So if you have unifex cubes, you have endless possibilities. My students do towers, bridges, and trains most often. But they are perfect for addition and subtraction practice too!

19. Letter Beads and Pipe Cleaners. As long as you can handle the letter beads getting mixed up and occasionally on the floor, have the kiddos string words or their names on pipe cleaners!

20. Literacy Centers. 10 Centers per month for First-Grade! 10 Centers per month for Second-Grade! That is 240 CENTERS! Let me say that again: 240 CENTERS! Choose the ones you wish to use and rotate them often, in and out of your center area AND your morning tubs!

Even More Tub Ideas

21. Bananagrams. Pictured here is the First Set, which is easier for some kids. I have multiple sets to build words during Morning Tub time, during small groups, and in centers with them.

22. Letter Stamps and Ink Pads. Letter stamps are a great, one kid-only activity for Morning Tub time. In my classroom, I have done letter stamps during even small groups and had things go messy! Give them a list of words to copy or have them stamp out their own.

23. DirectedDrawings Freebie.  I love this activity! First, the kids follow the  6-step directed draw, then they can write about their drawing. And, there are correlating vocabulary, word writing, phonics, and grammar activities. Try the freebie, and then check out the bundles!

24. Paper Cups (mini). Mini paper cups are a cheap investment. I use the paper ones designed for the bathroom. The kiddos love these. And if they get crushed, no high replacement cost!

25. Puzzles. Whatever the primary grade, assembling puzzles is a vital precursor skill that involves matching, planning, concentration, sequencing, and problem-solving!

Last but not least, Morning Tub Ideas

26. Magnatiles. Let’s be honest, magnatiles are expensive! If you are fortunate to have families purchase things for your room, receive additional budget money, or have a generous PTO, then ask for magnatiles! Once in a while, you can also find these in market groups online or at garage sales. Magnatiles are worth the work to get for your room!

27. Write and Wipe Puzzles.  Print, laminate, cut, and done! Perfect morning practice on alphabet or phonics!

28. 1:1 Centers Sampler.  I have listed many of these centers individually, BUT if you want to take care of multiple Morning Tub ideas at once, this bundle is the bomb! A sampler is linked, but if you love it, here is the link for the bundle: Individual Centers 1:1.

29. Calm Breathing.  Is this for the teachers or the kiddos? BOTH! Start your morning meeting time with some breathing exercises to calm and focus the students!

30. Then, transition to Paperless Morning Meetings. Morning Tubs followed by some focusing are great transitions from breakfast to the whole group! You can present these slides on your smartboard AND:

  • Builds Community
  • Starts Each Day with Intention
  • Less Paper/Less Prep
  • Builds Listening/Speaking Skills
  • Encourages Cooperative Learning
  • Helps to Establish Consistent Expectations and Routines
  • Encourages Higher Level Thinking

So, you have seen this list of 30 Morning Tub Ideas, and hopefully, it has given you some inspiration for your own Morning Tub time. I love having the kids do meaningful activities as I prepare for the day, especially as my kids are staggered coming into class each morning. Do you have some ideas of your own for Morning Tubs? Please share in the comments!


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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.