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Morning Routine for the Self-Contained Classroom

Calendar time in the classroom is my favorite time of day.

It’s first thing in the morning, and sure, I’m a morning person, but that’s not why I love our morning routine so much.

The Morning Calendar Routine (MCR) that I have set up is not only differentiated to meet the needs of all of my students, but it’s functional and it’s routine. Nothing about our morning routine ever changes. It’s how we start every single morning.

Morning meeting and morning calendar work routine in special ed in a self contained classroom. Blog post at Mrs. D's Corner

#strugglenomore

You will no longer struggle to meet the needs of all of your students during your calendar routine.

The first hour of our day is planned and differentiated. From day 1 of the school year. To day 187. And it’s once and done, something I never need to think about or plan again.

There are, what… 7 actual learning hours in a school day… and I have one full hour accounted for. Every single day. And I only planned once.

Morning meeting and morning calendar work routine in special ed in a self contained classroom. Blog post at Mrs. D's Corner

If you’d rather listen and watch me explain the MCR, you can watch this video. If you’d rather read, just skip over the video 🙂

If you’re looking for a digital calendar routine, you can find the digital version here… and a video explanation here.

Every morning starts with students putting away their coats and backpacks, and getting their communication notebooks out.

BEFORE CALENDAR

At the front of the classroom is the whiteboard with the calendar, and student desks facing the whiteboard. Student desks are the traditional desks that anyone would see in a regular ed, inclusion, or resource classroom. I think it is important that students are exposed to and expected to sit in traditional desks, so that is how we start the morning.

Depending upon how many students are in the classroom, I set the desks up in a single row, or in groups of 3-5 students.

If a child eats breakfast, an adult will take the child to the cafeteria to get breakfast and then come back to the classroom. Students also take this morning time to use the restroom. This 10-minute time period gets us ready to learn as we wait for the morning announcements and the Pledge.

Morning calendar routine for morning work in special ed(This is what the calendar looks like on the front board.)

DURING CALENDAR

After the announcements and the Pledge, it is time for the Morning Calendar Routine (MCR) to begin.

Again, if you’re looking for a digital calendar routine, you can find the digital version here… and a video explanation here.

Use the calendar mat during your morning work in special ed to keep all students engaged and concentrated on the task of calendar.
Each student gets a calendar mat.

What I love about this mat is the ability to differentiate it for each student, and the ability to put the pieces in any order to fit any classroom.

Use the calendar mat during your morning work in special ed to keep all students engaged and concentrated on the task of calendar.
This is the order I chose for my classroom because it matches how we do calendar on the front board.

I put it together this way because it mimics how a child reads a book. Left to right, top to bottom, and then they move to the next page. So we do month first, then the day, then the year. Then we will talk about the days of the week, etc.

Use the calendar mat during your morning work in special ed to keep all students engaged and concentrated on the task of calendar.

So as we are filling in the calendar on the front board, students are filling in, circling answers, and answering questions using the icons on the calendar mat.

In my classroom, our mats are on the larger construction paper, but file folders work just as well. I laminate the mats so students can use dry erase markers each day, and then erase their work with a magic eraser.

I use velcro to change out the interactive pieces during morning calendar in special ed.
The Calendar is interactive. I use velcro, but you could certainly use magnetic tape on a whiteboard.

This video does a great explanation of what my calendar looks like and how we work through the calendar and use the calendar mats.

To hold all of the “extra” calendar pieces in a spot that is easily accessible each day, I use these magnetic pockets. They’re super sturdy and the magnet is really strong.

Use magnetic pockets on the whiteboard to store extra interactive pieces for your calendar center.
You can certainly use any type pocket or magnetic shelf or bin to store your pieces.

When it comes to the layout of the calendar itself, you can use any layout you prefer and make it fit the needs of your classroom. The pieces would look great on a white tri-fold board, and then you can easily have calendar be a center in your classroom.

Make the calendar work for you, not the other way around! The plan is to only prep once 🙂

Dry erase marker wipes right off with a magic eraser.

After we finish calendar as whole-group, students will clean off their mats and they are told to go get “your binder”.

IT’S BINDER TIME

My classroom is color coded (read more here), so each of my students is assigned a color at the beginning of the school year.

One of the first skills a child learns is how to identify their name, as well as colors. By labeling color coded bins with student names, all of my students are able to find their bins, cups, etc. independently.

Morning Adapted Work Binder morning calendar binder is interactive, differentiated, and top rated to help all of your students succeed and learn important information.

I store the Morning Calendar Binders (MCBs) in a medium-sized bin, in no particular order. Students don’t struggle finding their binder, because they know to look for their color and their name.

We complete the binders at our desks, and we are all working on the same thing, but not necessarily the same page at the same time. Students work at their own pace.

Easily differentiate your morning work with the Morning Adapted Work Binder.

Again, the video at the very beginning of this blog post goes in to great depth as to how I use this binder and what exactly is in the student binders. Skip to minute 5:30 to jump right into the binder 🙂

Student Adapted Work Binders (AWBs) are very specific and individualized to the specific needs and ability level of each child. The great thing about the Morning AWB download is that all of the differentiation is provided for you, you just need to print and prep.

Leveling within the binders goes from simple matching, to manipulating answer pieces to spell words and show what you know, to tracing words, to writing words.

You can also find the answer to more of your Adapted Work Binder questions in this blog post here.

FOR EARLY FINISHERS

At the beginning of the school year, our morning routine may take us 45-60 minutes. Once we get the routine down, it can be anywhere from 30-45 minutes, depending on the day.

But there are some students who will finish before other students. Work doesn’t stop when they finish calendar and the binder.

Special ed morning work days of the week cutting and writing sequencing practice free
This days of the week freebie is what my students who “finish early” work on. Ya’ll know how much I love working on our fine motor skills.

Depending on the student, it may be a cut/paste activity or I will print each day of the week on colored cardstock, laminate, and add velcro.

Again, it’s student specific. But it’s all about prepping once and being done.

ARE YOU READY TO STREAMLINE YOUR MORNING?

The Morning Calendar Routine (MCR) has streamlined my morning schedule. For my students who need that explicit step-by-step routine and schedule to follow, this MCR starts their day (and everyone else’s day) off on a stress-free, predictable note.

This MCR is great because it’s simple and easy for repeat substitutes to follow, and even easier for paraprofessionals and aides to teach.

Grab all of the resources you need to implement my MCR in your classroom, and become one with your calendar (super corny, yeah?):
Interactive Calendar and Calendar Mat
Morning Adapted Work Binder
Free Days of the Week Writing Pages

What questions do you still have about this stress-free, prep-once-and-done Morning Calendar Routine?

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I'm a special education teacher, presenter, curriculum writer, and educational blogger behind Mrs. D's Corner.
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