How to Get Started With Math Morning Work

I receive emails and messages all the time about how I organize my math morning work routine, and what it looks like at the beginning of the school year. Read on to learn how to get started with Math Morning Work.

Math task cards and manipulatives with text, "How To Get Started With Math Morning Work."

What is Math Morning Work?


For anyone not familiar with Math Morning Work, this is my soft-start entry program for my primary classroom.

My students use it during morning entry while I take attendance, meet with parents who show up at my door, solve problems that come in from the yard, and collect field trip forms, notices, or money.

They are also perfect for early finishers!

You can grab a blog-exclusive sample of these activities right here:

Image of task cards with text, "Click here to get 16 free math morning work activities."

Preparing Materials


I've printed all my task cards on heavy cardstock in color. Because these are printed once and reused, again and again, printing in color is not a huge expense. (For more tips on printing in color on a budget, see this post!)

After cutting, I laminate the cards and sort them by manipulative. Each card set has an image of the manipulative needed at the top of the cards, so they are simple for even young students to manage. Each set of cards is secured together using a binder clip.

Image of task cards fastened with binder clips.

I store each set right in my manipulative bins, so they are ready to access at any time!

Photo of math manipulative storage bins.
The labels for these bins are available RIGHT HERE!

Getting Routines Started


At the beginning of the school year, I spend a lot of time in all subject areas establishing routines and expectations for what the work time should "Look Like" and "Sound Like." The expectations I have for my students while they work on these tasks are no different from those I have during our Daily 5 or Guided Math time. We create anchor charts for these, and because of a lack of wall space for this extra anchor chart, I relate Math Morning Work activities to these expectations.

Photo of math centers anchor chart with learning goal and student expectations.

On the first day that we use the bins, I choose one for each of my table groups. Before the students get started, I make it clear that I expect them to:

  • Be working on the tasks on the cards, not just playing.
  • Not bother others.
  • Work quietly.
  • Be responsible with the tools and return them neatly and carefully.

Each day for a week or two, I choose the bin for each table group, rotating them so that the students get to try out each of them. I make sure that I am available on these days to answer any questions the students have about the tasks, can redirect anyone not using them appropriately, and provide lots of praise for the students who are working well.

Photo of students working with math task cards and colorful beads.

Once my students have shown me that they can use these task cards appropriately without my direct supervision, I allow them some freedom to choose which bin they'd like to work with each day. They access the bins on a first-come-first-served basis, and the students may work anywhere in the room that they are comfortable, in groups of up to 3 or 4, depending on the noise level and activities involved. 

The power of choice is HUGE!!

That's it! These Math Morning Work task cards are a top-selling resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and I've had teachers from around the world reach out to tell me how much they love using them! Take a look at some of the feedback I've received:

Barbi says, "This is a wonderful resource! I use these in our morning tubs. It keeps my students engaged while I work on attendance and folders. I love that there is also an editable file which makes it great for many types of activities! Thank you for creating and sharing this resource!"

Rita says, "These task cards are beautiful! They address each strand in mathematics with a range of challenges to support all learners. I love that I already have all the resources in my classroom, and I can count on the students to remain engaged in their work. They are great for morning math work, or for early finishers." 

 A buyer says, "My second graders *love* these, and unpack quickly in the morning to get first choice of the math baskets for their table. I love having a template that I can edit and differentiate!"

I'd love to hear what you think of these after trying them out in your classroom! Leave me a message below or send me an email at ebeattie@mrsbeattiesclassroom.com to share your experiences!

If you're looking to add some additional activities to your morning routine, you might be interested in the things I've shared in this blog post:

Image of math task cards with text, "Fun Ways To Start The School Day."

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Math task cards and manipulatives with text, "How To Get Started With Math Morning Work."

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