Friday, July 3, 2015

Morning Work Drawer System

I have had a lot of questions about my morning work drawer system that was seen in my classroom tour pictures so I decided to go a little bit more in depth on what I do!

Years ago for morning work I would have a worksheet on each student's desk for them to complete each morning as their morning work.  It was very time consuming planning each morning's worksheet - not to mention having to make all those copies.  I also found that for some of my students their morning work worksheets would begin to pile up in their desks as unfinished work. 

That's when I decided to scrap the worksheet idea and do something different!  I came up with the idea of morning work drawers! 

I purchased two of the 10 drawer carts from the store Michaels.  I labeled each drawer with a different number.  (Since I have over 20 students I had to add baskets on top of the drawers for the additional drawers I needed.) 

Then I decided that I wanted to put activities (not worksheets) in each drawer that would be meaningful and would review math and language arts skills that we learn in first grade.  I love file folder games!  So I spent one summer making as many as I could.  I purchased the Carson-Dellosa File Folder booklets online like the ones below. 
Not only did I make file folder games for my morning work drawers, but I also found many other activities online on TpT that I could put in each drawer.

To start planning my morning work drawers I took my school calendar and counted out 24 school days (for the 24 morning work drawers).  For the entire school year I had to make 8 different sets of activities for my drawers.  I like to have 12 activities that review math skills and 12 activities that review language arts skills for each morning work drawer set.

So I took my Language Art and Math curriculum guides and started laying out the activities for each set of morning work drawers.  Here is an example of 12 LANGUAGE ARTS activities for a set of morning work drawers.
Here is an example of 12 MATH activities for a set of morning work drawers.
Each file folder game has Velcro attached to it so the pieces stay on the game and do not slide off.
So how does the system work each morning? 
Each morning the students walk in and open their "Work in Progress Folder" that is located in their desk.  In their folder I have a Morning Work Calendar stapled in it.  The morning work calendar tells each student what drawer to get and complete for that morning's work. 
Each student takes their drawer back to their desk and completes the activity.  When they have finished their activity I come around and check it.  The students get immediate feedback on how they did.  Any questions that a student misses on their file folder activity I usually have them redo.  Each student receives a small sticker on their calendar on the complete line once their activity is finished and has been checked by me.  If a student does not finish their activity by the time our morning work time is over then they receive an X on the incomplete line on their calendar.  At the end of each month the calendars go home for their parents to see.  The calendar is a great way for parents to see if their child is having a hard time getting their work complete each morning.  After every 24 school days each student has completed all 24 morning work drawers so I change them out to the next set of activities.
I have been doing this morning work drawer system for many years now and love it!  The students also love doing these games and activities instead of paperwork each morning!  I was afraid that teaching my first graders how to find their drawer each morning would be so hard for them - but it wasn't!  Each year they catch on so easily!  Most of the students usually have it down by the second day.  This morning work system saves me so much time planning and copying.  I have all my morning work activities organized and stored in boxes and ready to use year after year!
I also write down the activities I place in each drawer and the skill that they review on a planning page.
I have the teacher planning pages, number labels for the drawers, and each month's morning work calendar page for the students for sale on my TpT store!
Click HERE to download it!



  1. Great post! What an awesome idea and system!!! Where did you get the printable calendar for the entire school year? (The one where you have the sets planned out?)

  2. Thanks! That calendar is one the district provides us with. :)

  3. This Morning Work System is Amazing, How beautiful of you to share! Once, I get the time because I'm relatively a new teacher I'm so adopting this system. Everything planned prior, that's the beauty in it. Thanks for sharing

  4. This is awesome!! :) Thank you! I might have to try this with my first graders this year! Do you have to explain the directions for each activity or do the kids do pretty well with it on their own?

    1. The kids do really well figuring out what to do on their own. If they aren't sure there is usually a student that sits around them that has done that morning work drawer before so they will help explain what to do to them. :)

  5. Are some of the games, partner games? Do they do them with a partner or individually then?

  6. All the activities they complete for morning work is done individually by each student. :)