Go-To Guide to Morning Tubs: Part 6 – Promoting Independence

It’s the sixth and final part of my Morning Tubs Blog Series! 

(If you would like to go back and read any of the previous posts, I’ll link them below!)

Today, I’m sharing about ways to promote student independence with morning tub activities. This is a really important topic and even though we’re talking about it last, it’s the glue that holds the success of morning tubs together.

One of the most common reasons for implementing morning tubs is to give students meaningful activities to complete independently while we teachers take care of everything that typically goes on at the beginning of the school day. We have so many things to do in a short amount of time, including welcoming students, answering questions, taking attendance, checking folders, and so on. Morning tubs must be independent work for students in order for them to be worth all of the time and prep needed to put them together.

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind as you implement tubs in your classroom. 

Talk About Expectations Before Starting Tubs

The key part of this is “before starting tubs”, which means that there’s a 99.99% chance you aren’t going to be using morning tubs on your first -or even second- day of school. 

This is a good thing.

The first few days of school (especially in Kindergarten) are so busy, no matter how well-planned and rehearsed you are. Spend your first few days of school setting up (and practicing) school-wide and classroom expectations. Once you’ve taken the time to do these very important steps, you can begin thinking about introducing classroom routines, including morning tubs.

Spend a few days talking about morning tubs – where they’re stored, when you’ll use them, how to put them away, etc. Lay the foundation for your students instead of asking them to dive right in.

Model, Model, Model

When you and your students have started talking about morning tub expectations, be sure to model the behavior you expect from your students. This includes:

*How to choose a tub

*Walking safely with a tub

*Taking materials out

*Completing an activity

*Putting the tub away correctly

*What to do when they’re done

While you’re modeling all of the correct ways to use tubs, throw in a couple mistakes as well. For example, put the tub away in the wrong spot.  If your students are anything like mine, they will get a kick out of seeing their teacher showing the wrong ways of doing something! 🙂

Practicing Tubs

You know what they say – practice makes perfect. And although we don’t always have perfection, we should still practice! One idea for practicing tubs is to go very basic and only use things like playdough, puzzles, and manipulatives for the first week of tubs. This lets students focus more on the procedural aspect of morning tubs without having to also focus on doing a specific activity.

Many of us use playdough and manipulatives for simple lessons during the first couple weeks of school anyway, so try adding them to your tubs!

Early Finishers

Have a clear plan for what students will do if they finish a tub early. Trust me – it will happen! Here are a few ideas:

  1. Choose another tub activity – If you have a couple extra tubs, this is an easy solution for early finishers. If you’re using a print-and-prep tub pack, you could simply make more than one copy of a few tub activities for your extra tubs. Duplicates are fine here – the point is to have a few extras for early finishers and it’s okay to repeat some!
  2. Read a book – Taking a visit to the classroom library is a great activity for early finishers!
  3. Whiteboard work – I keep whiteboards in a plastic crate with a pencil box of dry-erase markers. Students can easily grab a whiteboard and write the room, or you could leave a sight word list or alphabet chart for them to copy.

Other Tips

Here are a few other things that you’ll want to consider:

  1. Teach tub activities as needed: You’re not going to be using activities that are too hard for your students (see number 4), but some activities might have special instructions that students won’t know on their own. Take a minute to teach the tub activity if you need to!
  2. Don’t let students feel helpless: If a student is stuck on a tub activity, encourage them to find a friend who can help. Make sure that they know that it’s always okay to ask for help!
  3. Start easy: During the first couple months, students are really still practicing and gaining confidence. Remember to keep activities simple!
  4. Never use activities with skills that students haven’t mastered: This is probably obvious, but tubs are not for teaching new skills or practicing unfamiliar skills. 
  5. Use posters as reminders: One of the biggest challenges for students is putting the tubs and activities away correctly. Print the posters in my free planning guide and hang them up for reference!

In Summary

Just like establishing any other routine in your classroom, taking time to model and practice using morning tubs will help your students feel more independent and confident with them. You’ll love the busy hum of your classroom as your students are completing activities that motivate them and help them grow!

Three Things to Do Now

1. Remember that you can get my Morning Tubs Planning Guide delivered instantly to your inbox by filling out the form below!

2. Join my Morning Tubs with Katie Roltgen Group on Facebook for tips, support, and collaboration with thousands of other teachers!

3. Since this is the final post in my morning tubs blog series, be sure to go back and catch up on anything you missed! Here are links to the previous posts:

Part 1: Choosing Tubs

Part 2: How Many Tubs?

Part 3: Choosing Activities

Part 4: When to Change Tubs

Part 5: Assigning Tubs

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