How Does It Work? Morning Exploring Edition

I LOVE Morning Exploring (Marshia McGuire, TPT) tubs. They are simply amazing. Each month I organize nine different fine motor building activities that have either a math or language arts focus. Last year, I created two kits for each of the nine activities so that students had their own materials to use independently. (I promise, Business Office, there was a reason I ordered 180 plastic pencil boxes!) This prep last year made setting up the monthly activities this year a breeze! Take a look:

A bonus activity is to use the letter beads the creature eats to spell a word or put in alphabetical order.

When the morning bell rings, students wash their hands and then head straight to their desk where their Morning Exploring activity awaits. (We previously have discussed each of the activities, and students are encouraged to use the “I can” cards included in their box to remind them of the activity. Also, the majority of the activities each month have the same goal, they just use different manipulatives and get increasingly more challenging as the year progresses.) This daily routine gives me a chance to connect with students, submit attendance, check in with parents, and work with students as part of our Read Every Day! program. (Read about that by clicking below.)

How Does It Work? Read Every Day! Program


Morning Exploring encourages students to work independently. It also solidifies math and language arts skills while strengthening fine motor. And the students LOVE the activities! A win all around!

November Morning Exploring

I revamped our Morning Exploring bins once again! For the past two months, we have been using a rotation where it takes two days for each student to rotate to the next bin. With nine bins, that means it takes 18 school days to complete! With new activities begging to be showcased monthly, we just do not have 18 days to focus on one theme! So I decided to make two sets of each activity. This was a big task, but fortunately, I already had a lot of extra materials I could use to make these duplicate activities.

I recently received a back-ordered order of pencil boxes. I noticed immediately that these pencil boxes are quite challenging to open and close, and it became clear that they would not be an effective tool for students to use frequently throughout the day. I began brainstorming ways to use these boxes for something else. 
Why not make two kits for each Morning Exploring rotation using the pencil boxes as a way to keep the tools and supplies organized?! It works like a dream!

They are just the perfect size!

This month’s Morning Exploring activities are varied and build on a plethora of skills. Just wait and see!

Who’s ready to use algebraic thinking? Students are introduced to solving equations to ten with a missing number. They roll little balls of playdoh (fine motor!) and put the required number of balls in the ten frame to show the number at the top of the mat. Then they must count the empty squares to figure out how many more they need to get ten.

Another activity has students rolling two dice and adding them together. They must then move that number of water beads to the fall-themed cookie cutters.

Then and Now Writing has students writing high-frequency words using a pencil and the quill of a feather and black paint. They had SO much fun with this activity!

Leafy Patterns engaged students in extending colorful patterns using acrylic leaves.

Students use a feather to write high-frequency words in sand.

Q-tips were used for students to create fall-themed polka-dot masterpieces…and strengthen their fine motor skills!

Students used sunflower seeds to demonstrate number sense of teen numbers.

This addition activity has students sorting the acrylic leaves according to color. They recorded the number of red leaves and the number of yellow leaves and then added them together.

Having two sets of each activity prepared really made Morning Exploring so much fun! The feedback from the students has been very positive. They love doing the same activity as a peer and seeing the results of their friends’ work. I am planning on doing the same for our December tubs!

Where Did November Go?!

It has been a quick three weeks of November in Kindergarten! So much has happened! First, we have new Morning Exploring bins that the students have been loving. Here are the skills we are working on:

High-frequency word search: students use tongs to pick leaves out of the sensory bin. They read the high-frequency word that is on the leaf and match it to their tree.

Teen numbers: Students choose a card and build the teen number using sunflower seeds.

High-frequency words: Using links, students spell high-frequency words.

Before and after: Students choose a number card. They build that number using a ten frame and then write the number that comes before and after.

Missing addend: Using algebraic thinking, students solve equations with a missing addend while building fine motor skills!

Adding and counting: Students roll two dice and place the pompoms equalling the number rolled into their turkey. Whoever has the most pompoms at the end is the winner.

Counting numbers greater than 40: Students use stickers to trace the outline of an acorn. They then count the total amount of stickers needed to go all the way around the acorn.

Counting and writing numbers: Students choose a turkey cup and count how many glass beads are in the cup. They then record their answers. Cups contained between 10 and 25 beads.

We also have a new filler in the sensory table…birdseed and giant acorns! We even attracted some wild birds one day!

In math, we have been exploring the concept of addition, focusing on the many strategies that can be used to solve addition equations. These strategies range from using tally marks, counting on, using a ten frame, drawing pictures, using objects to count, and using a number line.

This poster covers many of the strategies that we have been using.

The students have been really enjoying the number line. I find them solving equations during passing periods or free time!

We have been practicing reading. Students are encouraged to touch each word as they read, so I bought these funny little googly eyes that attach to their fingers to help students remember to touch each word. Aren’t these the cutest ever?!

It’s hard to believe that the classroom will change over to reflect my gingerbread theme in a few short days!

October Morning Exploring

With the new month comes new Morning Exploring tubs. The creepy crawlies are out and these students had no problem using the thematic manipulatives!

Students dig in sensory putty for googly eyes. They then sort them by color.


Students match numbers to coordinating tens frames and then clip them together.

Using stickers, students outline the shape of a pumpkin. They count to see how many stickers they used.


Students choose a number card and use pumpkin buttons and a ten frame to build the number.


Color patterns are extended. Students use tweezers to put the colored pom-poms in order.


Students roll one or two dice and move that many flies onto the spider web using tongs.

Using a push pin, students create a stained glass window effect.

Students use a hole punch to punch out teen numbers.

The last activity has students counting and recording the number of pumpkins in each container.

These activities keep the students busy practicing so many different skills! We love Morning Exploring!


Morning Exploring

We enjoyed our FIRST rotation of Morning Exploring activities today! These activities are designed to strengthen fine motor skills while reinforcing math and literacy concepts. They also encourage teamwork! I am just thrilled with how successful our first rotation was!

Take a look:

Students use their thumb and pointer finger to grasp very slippery water beads and sort them by color.


Working together, students place numbers in order from least to greatest. They use clips to clip the number cards in order.


Students cut along the curvy lines.


Using pop beads, students measure the pictures of school supplies to see how long each is. They record their answer.


Students roll two dice. They add the dice together. Using tongs, students place that number of frogs on the lily pads.


VERY CAREFULLY, students use a pushpin to make holes that follow each letter in their name.


Students use a hole punch to punch a specific number of holes on each page.


Pop beads are used again…but this time students use them to extend a pattern.


After Morning Exploring was complete for today, I overheard a student say, “I can’t wait to do this tomorrow!” These are words every teacher loves to hear!


November Morning Exploring Tubs

Though the month of November is quickly coming to a close, I wanted to share with you the November Morning Exploring tubs and the concepts they cover. The students could not get enough of these tubs…all of the little manipulatives were very exciting to them! The explanations for each tub are above the images.

Tub 1: Students choose a number from 0-20. The then link together the three different ways to show the value of that number. These ways include a ten or double-ten frame, tally marks, and pictures.



Tub 2: Using playdough, students fill in a ten frame to make a number. Then students must figure out how to complete the equation…who says kindergarteners can’t do algebra?!


Tub 3: Students use tweezers to choose a pumpkin. On the bottom of the pumpkin is a two digit number greater than 20. One student then spins the spinner, deciding on “greater than” or “less than.” Students must compare their numbers, and the student whose number matches the spinner gets to keep the pumpkins.


Tub 4: Students choose a High-frequency word and spell it using letter cards. They link the letters together to spell the words.


Tub 5: Students chose a number card and build the number using sunflower seeds.


Tub 6: Students follow the outline of the acorn with small stickers and then count up the total number of stickers used. The children LOVE using stickers and peeling and sticking is great for fine motor development!


Tub 7: Students choose a turkey container and count the number of glass beads inside. They record the two-digit number.


Tub 8: Students dig through a small sensory bin to find leaves. On the leaves are high-frequency words. Students read the word and match the leaves to their play mat.

I can not believe that in three short days, December will be here! It’s time to switch out the Morning Exploring Tubs!

Morning Exploring

We are in our third day of kindergarten, our second day of Morning Exploring, and the students are LOVING it! Each month, there are nine different activities through which the students rotate in pairs. The Morning Exploring bins focus on math and literacy skills while strengthening and developing the students’ fine motor skills in unique and engaging ways.

Here’s how:

(Disclaimer: I speak much more slowly when teaching!)

As I mentioned in the video, there are new activities monthly that continue to build fine motor skills and reinforce math and language arts concepts. A huge thank you to Marsha McGuire for developing these great activities!

Morning Exploring, Spring Edition

We are enjoying the final few rotations of our spring themed Morning Exploring tubs. Besides strengthening fine motor skills, these tubs continue to build both math and language arts concepts.

Students use mini stickers to follow the outline of an umbrella. They then count how many stickers they used.

Students extend the cottontail’s pattern using tweezers.


Students use tweezers to locate raindrops in plastic grass. They then solve the word puzzles each raindrop makes.


Students use a bunny hole punch to illustrate addition equations.


Students dig in therapy putty to remove colored beads, which they sort and graph.


Students choose a number card and place that number of ducks in the pond. They then write the two numbers that come before their chosen number.

Students choose a container and sort the erasers by carrot and bunny. They count the number of each and record that number in the coordinating box, writing an addition equations. Students then solve the equation.


Students create raindrop number bonds.


Students play a game of greater than or less than when they choose a duck, read the two-digit number, spin the spinner, and compare their number to their partner’s number.

March Morning Exploring

The March Morning Exploring tubs are ready! Students had a great time practicing math and language arts skills while building their fine motor skills. Read on for a description of the skills and activities we are working on this month.

Students find the missing addend by using the number bond and moving the pieces of gold with tweezers to help solve the equation. Once finished, they remove the clothespin from the card to check their answer.



Students read and write the heart word (high-frequency word) in salt with their finger, creating a rainbow word.


Students remove rainbows from containers using tongs, count and record the amount.


Students select a pot of gold and read the high-frequency word on it. They then link letter coins together using plastic links to duplicate the words read.


Students use links to put together the numbers with their matching quantities. This activity helps students recognize tally marks, ten frames, and numbers greater than ten and less than 21.


Students build the number shown by moving shamrocks to the jar on the playing mat. They then write that number in the box and count back. Once finished, they remove the clothespin from the card to check their answer.


Students build the number shown by moving gold coins to the pot on the playing mat. They then complete the equation on the playing mat. Once finished, they remove the clothespin from the card to check their answer.



Students make CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words by stringing the letter beads in order and writing the word on the response sheet. Once finished, they remove the clothespin from the card to check their answer.



Students use tongs to grab a green crystal with a number from 40 to 100 written on it. They then spin the spinner and read the number. Students compare their number to their partner to see which is greater or less than.


As you can see, there is a lot of fine motor building through the use of tongs, tweezers, and clothespins, in addition to building math and reading skills.


Morning Exploring

The January Morning Exploring bins are ready for action! Nine fine motor activities that focus on high-frequency words, math skills, and reading skills…ready, set, go! I am loving the winter theme.

1. Snowball spelling: Students spell high-frequency words using snowballs. (ping pong balls and golf tees!)


2. Snowman sticker: Students use their thumb and index finger to peel and press stickers around the outline of a snowman. They then count up the number of stickers they used.


3. Melted snowman graph: Students dig snowman pieces (top hats, carrot noses, coal buttons, snowflakes) out of play dough. They sort the items into like piles and then count and graph their results.


4. Salt writing: Students use a silver icicle to write high-frequency words in salt.


5. Snowball counting: Students count the number of snowballs in each container and record the two digit number.



6.Ice dice roll: Students roll two dice and add them together. Using tongs, they place that number of ice cubes into their bucket. The student with the most ice cubes at the end of the game wins.


7. Catch a snowball: Students use tongs to choose a snowball. High-frequency words are written on some of the snowballs. They match those snowballs to the mitten.


8. CVC Spelling: Students look at the picture on the card. They hang the mittens with the letters to spell the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) word. Students write the word below.


9. Build a high-frequency word: Students use icy blue gems to spell high-frequency words.

The students were very excited to explore the new activities. I love seeing their happy faces.