In Third Grade the morning routine is one of the most important parts of the day. It sets the tone for the day and is one of the most valuable 'chunks' of time. I've found that students are never more 'alert' than in those first 45 minutes. While every school, grade, and district may have their own required morning activities, these are the routines and procedures that I have found to be the most effective.
Third Grade Morning Routine: Don't Over Plan
I can remember my first year of teaching Third Grade. I tried to do it all. I had a morning routine that was 5-6 items long: grammar, cursive writing, close reading, math facts, spelling, vocabulary... we did it all! But we did not do it well. I could not figure out why almost every student was doing average (at best) on each section of the morning routine. No one was "mastering" anything, and I felt like I was constantly trying to re-teach concepts. Not to mention the piles and piles of marking!
I found that to make the most of our mornings I had to seriously cut down on the number of things that we were trying to accomplish. Instead of trying to do it all, I picked which pieces were the most important.
So I cut it down. By more than half. And it totally worked. Instead of floundering in piles of work, my students began totally ROCKING the few assignments they were given.
I suggest choosing no more than 2 or 3 individual assignments each morning. (Some of my 'fast finisher' students work on a bonus project when they are done, but for the majority of the class this is the perfect amount of work.) Each morning my students walk in and independently begin: spelling practice, a quick morning grammar, and cursive writing. And I love the look on their faces when they begin to feel successful at each!
Third Grade Morning Routine: Teach It
It's so important to make sure to explicitly teach each part of your morning routine. Don't assume that students will "just know" how you want them to complete their grammar and vocabulary practice: teach them to do it, and do it painfully slowly.
In my class, we spend the first month doing our "morning routine" as a whole class, and I model each part of our morning routine multiple times.
Using my document camera I will walk students through how to practice their spelling (including where it goes when they are done!), how I would like their grammar to be completed, and the proper formation of each day's cursive letter.
As students are ready I will gradually move from instruction to guided practice. Here, I will write the instructions on the board and gently remind off-task students what I am expecting.
Third Grade Morning Routine: Keep it Consistent
In my third grade classroom, consistency is key. I make sure that every morning has almost the same routine so that students always know what to expect when they walk in the room. I try not to change up our morning routine without a ton of notice, and I find that students respond very positively to the consistency.
When students come in each morning I write their "Morning Work" on the whiteboard along with a short cheerful message. As each student files in they quickly glance at the board to read the message and see which supplies they will need.
One of the things I developed for my class last year was a Grammar Practice Book that specifically covered the grammar and writing skills that I felt were the most vital to third grade. Take a peek here and see if it might be helpful for your class.
Do you have any specific things you love in your morning routine? Anything that always works? What about any utter disasters? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!