One of the most daunting things about setting up morning tubs is where do you get the materials! I admit I wasn’t too sure when I started. I have a ton of “stuff” in my classroom, I’m bad for walking into the Dollar Store needing one small thing and walking out with a bill of $75 of stuff I didn’t know I desperately needed! I had a ton of random manipulative, but wasn’t sure if it would work for morning tubs. Did I need to go out and spend more money on fancy manipulatives?? The answer was no! The more I researched, talked with my teaching partners, and looked around the materials I already had I realized I didn’t need to get *that* much. A lot of what I have used for my tubs I already had and have only had to supplement a few things here and there for my Morning Tub staples.

Disclaimer: there are definitely things I have bought specifically for morning tubs, but they are things that I have used for multiple different rotations already this year – so in my books worth it!

So, here is my list of my favourite staple manipulatives to use for Morning Tubs!

  1. Dominoes – seriously the kids LOVE them! And there are so many different ways they can be used! I’ve had kids build towers and walls with them, line them up the traditional way and knock them down, I’ve done number matching with them, and even had one kiddo use them to make letters!
  2. Pattern Blocks! I’ve put them out as an open invitation to create designs as well as with patterns for the students to follow. Lots of great (and free!!) ideas on Pinterest for pattern blocks.
    Using wooden pattern blocks to make holiday designs
  3. Mini solo cups or Dixie cups. The kids love building with these, and by using the smaller ones it’s easy to contain it to a table top activity! Also – super cheap at the dollar store!
    Solo cups, not just for a fun Saturday night anymore!
  4. Geoboards and rubber bands. I am totally that teacher that did NOT think that my kids would be able to handle geoboards without there being an all out war of flying rubber bands in my room. But guess what? I was wrong! The kids were amazing with them. I already had the geoboards sitting in a box in the classroom and some rubber bands that came with them. I found on TpT a great product for the geoboards Geoboards Alphabet Task Cards – Upper and Lowercase Letters,  it was fun to see how the kids got excited about making letters with the bands! Later in the year I also put out white rainbow loom bands and the students made snowflakes with the geoboards!
    There are tons of different task cards for Geoboards available on Teachers Pay Teachers!
  5. Magnaformers. So, these I will admit were an expense (even though I got them on an amazing sale through the site I think I paid around $70 for a box of 100 pieces. But I have to say, it was worth it! The students LOVE these things! It’s amazing to see their little engineering brains at work as they build and create with the tiles. Before Christmas, I added bells to a bin of the Magnaformers and the kids started challenging their group member to see who could add the most bells to their building before they fell off! Definitely worth the investment! I’ve gone back to try and buy more, but I have yet to find them on such a good sale!
    Magnaformers are always a huge hit with the kids!
  6. Loose parts are so versatile for Kindergarten morning tubs! I think the majority of K teachers have an odd collection of random stuff in their classroom. Pieces you keep for just in case moments. Like buttons, feathers, bingo chips, shells, rocks, those decorative glass beads that are flat on the bottom…you know what I mean! Almost every rotation of tubs I have one tub that has loose parts! The kids love the opportunity to openly create designs. I use plastic veggie trays to hold the parts and usually put out a mat of some sort for them to design on (I’ve used cork trivets, pieces of foam, cookie sheets, and shapes cut out of construction paper). Dig through that cupboard in your classroom of random crap and I’m sure you’ll find some treasures! If you live in Winnipeg, or in the surrounding area,  ArtsJunktions is an amazing source for loose part materials (and the best part – it’s free!!).
  7. Clothes pins and Popsicle sticks.  So fun! I first put these out when I wanted to do a STEM activity based on the poem “5 Little Pumpkins sitting on a Gate”. The kids loved trying to build with the materials and we have used them for a few different morning tub activities.
    Building gates for the 5 little pumpkins (pumpkins are from Dollarama I think…)
  8. Letter magnets are so fun for the kids! Most schools have a set or two somewhere, or you can usually find them for cheap at the dollar story (seriously wish I had stock in Dollarama I shop there so much). I’ve done multiple different tubs with letter magnets! The kids love making their name and the names of their friends. As well, I’ve printed up word cards for them to use in those tubs (generally words related to what we are learning about at that time – this week I had Valentine’s day words in with the letter magnets!)
    Magnetic lower case letters from Lakeshore Learning and Valentine’s day word cards I made using publisher on my computer.
  9. Children’s plastic tweezers or mini tongs! I swear there is a mini riot when I bring those puppies out. I found some Children’s Tweezers at the Dollar Tree (they are usually red or blue) and then adorable little hand tongs at Walmart last summer. The kids love the chance to try and pick things up with the tongs and tweezers. They are also great for building fine motor skills!Using the
  10. Play Doh is another fan favourite. I’ve used it for building letters and making designs. At Halloween I printed out a bunch of different pumpkin pictures and threw in some pots of black Play Doh (they came in the big package you can buy at Costco around Halloween). They kids loved making different faces for their pumpkins.                                                                             IMG_3935(1)
  11. Whiteboards. What kid doesn’t love the chance to use a whiteboard? Just like with the letter magnets, I’ve put out cards with the kids names and theme based word. It’s always a hit! You can find cheap whiteboards at the dollar store, or if you’re a crafty person I’m sure Pinterest has ways to make your own!
  12. Plus Plus. This is another thing that isn’t a super cheap buy – but worth it! Our school Maker Space has Plus Plus (both the regular size and the jumbo ones) and they are a big hit! At the beginning of the year, I decided to borrow the Jumbo ones for my first set of morning tubs. The kids really liked building with them, but they were a little hard to take a part. I ended up buying a box of the regular sized ones and found those were much easier for Kindergarten fingers. It’s interesting to see what different kids build when given an open invitation to create.
    Plus Plus is fun and GREAT for fine motor development!
  13. 3D foam blocks from Dollarama are a great open ended tub manipulative! The kids have great discussions about how high they can build, how many blocks tall their towers are, what colours everyone is using – so great and kid driven. I found these last year at the Dollarama and bought a few bags. At $1.25 how could I not?
  14. Mini Erasers. I had never really thought of using mini erasers (you know the ones from the Target dollar spot) until last year when they kept popping up on the Simply Kinder Facebook posts. I don’t have a local Target (seeing as I live in Canada and the closest Target is a 3 hour/border crossing away), but decided to look for some while visiting my parents in California over spring break. They are pretty cheap when you can find them, come in lots of fun different shapes, and they are great for using as loose parts in a design tub, making names with, creating patterns with, counting, and sorting. My students are always excited when the little erasers come out!
    For this activity, I made trees with numbers on them using my Cricut and then laminated them. The kids counted out “decorations” (aka mini erasers) to decorate their trees.
  15. Lego! Who doesn’t love Lego?? Another great manipulative that you probably already have somewhere in your Kindergarten classrooms (or home). You can also pick it up at a Thrift store or Dollar Tree. I’ve had it out for just building as well as making letters and numbers. Always a popular choice!

Ok…I’m going to stop there. Fifteen seems like a good list to start with! Thought as I’m sitting here I’m thinking, wait! You didn’t mention this or that!! So, there many need to be a part 2 to my favourite morning tub manipulatives! Hope this was helpful for you! And please feel free to shoot me a message if you have a question!

Thanks for reading!