Thursday, May 23, 2024
Start of the Day Activities

Start of the Day Activities

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 5-11

If you’re looking for teaching ideas and activities to try at the start of the school day, browse through the list below. All suggestions were contributed by teachers and visitors to our site:

Don’t forget to download our popular Early Morning Activity Packs on our Teaching Packs site.

Lara Savory:

We have four activity starters on the board, a selection from:

  • Jumbled up letters,
  • A number (make it in different ways),
  • An unusual shape (what could this be?),
  • A word to find synonyms for,
  • A word to find rhymes for,
  • A subject to make an alphabet list for,
  • A picture of a character (what questions would you ask?),
  • A thunk (a la Ian Gilbert),
  • An answer to think of questions for,
  • Alternatively, they can read,
  • At some point in the day, we share our favourites.

This image shows one way of presenting these activities:

Starter Activities


We have DIG time…Digging independently toward your goals. I have four stations.

  1. They read e-books. (fill out sticky note)
  2. Magazines then post on a sticky note a Wow fact that will make the next group want to find id.
  3. Computers. We have a site called to work on skills.
  4. Reading non-fiction. Also, post on sticky notes the name of the book and a summary of what they read. At the end of a 40 minute period, we share the sticky notes and skills.


We have a wake-up and work circuit, just 10-20 minutes at the start of the day with year 1,

  • Mon- Learn the lyrics to a new song, which is good for improving reading skills.
  • Wed- Word off, competing against other classes to create as many words as possible from a phrase…eg, ‘world cup is coming’, you could make RING. Good for vocab and spelling.
  • Thurs- Idea shower- one word in the middle of the board, e.g. space, and they post what they know about that subject and stick it on the board. This is really good for AfL on what you have been doing.
  • Fri – Learning a new dance. This links to wake-up shake-up and really keeps them active on the last day of the week.

The children have now embraced this rota and come to school earlier, so they get this fun 10 minutes in. So boosted our attendance. 🙂

A visitor:

I work in a rural preschool centre where the children love singing to popular music. We put music on, mostly bought in from the children’s home, and the favourite songs are played and sung repeatedly for a good 15 – 20 minutes. It is their choice. Our early group of 3-4 year olds love hopping up on their little chairs and singing to their hearts’ content at the top of their voices. Their favourite song of the moment is “Just the way you are” from the Glee CD. This singing together is an opportunity for the children to get active as they hop up and down on the chairs throughout the song. It also gets them involved in a group activity and sets the mood for the day.


A mixture, depending on what day it is, or what the first lesson is

  • MON – No wake-up activity until Homework is completed. Usually Brain Gym (Dancing)
  • TUE – Wall of Words. Create a “wall of words” out of one subject. i.e. Positive Words
  • WED – Paper Games (played on mini whiteboards) Hangman, X and Os etc
  • THUR – Singalong. Gather Years 1-3 and Years 4-7 to sing popular songs.
  • FRI – No wake-up activity until a Spelling Test is completed. Using the netbooks (Mathletics).


As a bell ringer assignment, my kids love it when I give a Mind Trap Question. I call it critical thinking. They take little note sheets that I’ve cut from recycled paper from a designated location (usually near the board where the question is posted), and I tell them that if they talk, I won’t accept their response. When the timer goes off (or when I walk forward to begin class), their answer has to be in the designated location, or else it doesn’t count. I read the question aloud and I read aloud each student’s response. They soooo love hearing me announce their name with their response (this takes usually takes about 1-2 minutes). When this is done I say, “The students who responded by stating……. are correct!” They celebrate and laugh afterwards. I give those students classroom bucks, or sometimes I just let them put their response in a little box and randomly pull someone’s name at the end of each week for a small treat or incentive. They love it, and it lets me know that their brains are in critical-thinking mode!

Laurie D:

I provide critical thinking activities- a question, a puzzle, riddles, or putting a painting on the smart board and ask questions that require observation and critical thinking. They write these in their journal. When they are finished, then they are to read silently.


EYFS – I always start the day with a caption challenge (phase 3 sentence), a writing challenge (phase 2/3 CVC words and a sentence), a maths challenge with repeating patterns/missing numbers from sequence/ addition and subtraction sums/ what is the name of this 3d shape, and a body challenge “Can you do this? and a picture of a child either rolling his tongue, spreading his fingers etc somewhere in the provision (Children choose to do it or not). Children love sharing their attempts at the challenges in morning diary time, and it lends itself to talking about what they think they might need to practise that day!

Anna Kim:

I usually give my pupils a few quizzes to do on the board, like guessing the word. I noticed that they now come to the classroom earlier and start to “warm up” this way themselves and invite me to join their game too!

If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment below…

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