The Secret to Calm Mornings in the Classroom

Real talk: mornings are one of the hardest times in the classroom. Attendance. Lunch orders. Unpacking. Small talk. Notes from home. Announcements. Morning meetings. Morning work.

And let’s not forget about the time spent prior to students’ arrival; early mornings in your classroom can make you feel like you are playing one giant game of Whack-a-Mole as you desperately try to complete 673 tasks before your classroom fills with chaos in the form of well-meaning, enthusiastic learners.

A couple of years ago, I was no stranger to mad dashes to the copier seconds before the bell rang; it was only on my really lucky days that I arrived to no line and a machine that was willing to cooperate (which, let’s be honest, are about as common as unicorn-sightings).

Armed with my stack of morning work, I’d make sure all of the students received a page upon arrival, and then I proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes juggling my daily tasks while also repeating directions no less than 25 times as students trickled in from buses, breakfast, and the car line.

It is enough activity to make a person dizzy with exhaustion–all before the day even truly begins. It’s not fair to the teacher or the students to start the day on such a hurried, pressured note.

Mad dashes and repeated directions are a recipe for teacher insanity, and I put up with it way too long before I realized I needed a change. That is when Practically Paperless Morning Work was born.

paperless morning journal prompt on whiteboard screen

This morning journal system will save you time and sanity while also growing your students’ writing skills. It also relaxes your students and encourages focus by playing calming classical music as they write. This is a win-win-WIN for all parties involved! Let me break it down for you:

1. Zero Morning Prep

Literally, all you have to do is turn on your whiteboard and display the day’s morning journal prompt. That is IT.

paperless morning journal prompt on whiteboard screen

2. No Morning Copies & (Practically) No Paper

Students respond to each prompt in a spiral notebook. (Bonus: this serves as an amazing writing portfolio and parent-teacher conference conversation piece!) You also get frequent access to gems like this that make you giggle and swell with pride:

paperless morning journal prompt on whiteboard screen and student response in notebook


paperless morning journal prompt on whiteboard screen and student response in notebook


3. Student-Friendly Morning Journal Prompts

On the left side of the screen, the morning journal prompt is displayed. On the right side of the screen, the students view the layout of their morning notebook page as well as any sentence frames, dates, etc. that might help them with their written response. This means YOU can actually complete your morning tasks without answering a bajillion questions and repeating directions until you are blue in the face!

paperless morning journal prompt on whiteboard screen


4. Predictable & Exciting Morning Journal Prompts

Morning prompts follow a schedule (viewed in the table below) that makes kids excited as they anticipate the day’s prompt and also reinforces the student-friendly nature outlined in #3!*

morning journal weekly prompt schedule

5. Calming & Focus-Oriented Morning Work

Each morning slide has the option to play a calming classical song that will encourage students to relax and focus as they write each morning. Every week features a different song, and the song can be started or stopped at any time (or not played at all if that is your wish).
paperless morning journal prompt on whiteboard screen showing classical music option
This product has been so helpful and successful in so many classrooms that I have actually created two versions of it. First, though, you might want to try some free journals!

Version 1: This is a pack of non-seasonal prompts that can be used for an entire year at any time throughout the year. Click your preferred grade level photo below to view the full listing.

kindergarten morning journal listing


first grade morning journal listing


second grade and third grade morning journal listing

Version 2: This is a pack of prompts that can be used for an entire year that follows a seasonal schedule (for example, a week of pumpkin-themed prompts in October). Click your preferred grade level photo below to view the full listing!

seasonal morning journal prompt listing


seasonal second and third grade morning journal prompt listing

And that is that, my friends! Kiss your hectic mornings goodbye and go hug your whiteboard as you welcome a year of calming, smooth beginnings.

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