Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Samantha Edwards Gilbert

Second Advisor

Alicia Cooper Stapp

Third Advisor

Neil Manson

Relational Format



Increasing demands for creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration to be taught in schools puts pressure on educators to incorporate non-cognitive skills into the already rigid curriculum (Battelle for Kids, 2019). While there is ample research on play in the classroom and the importance of teaching twenty-first century skills to elementary students, there is very limited research on teaching twenty-first century skills via morning tubs. Morning tubs elicit skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, motivation, critical thinking, and problem-solving in students (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009). Therefore, this thesis aims to introduce play to educators as a strategy through which twenty-first century skills can be taught in the elementary education classroom.

This qualitative study examines the implementation of morning tubs, an alternative to a morning worksheet, which consist of tactile objects designed to peak curiosity, creativity, and collaboration within students in a first-grade classroom in North Mississippi. The study took place during the beginning of the spring 2023 semester and consisted of semi-structured pre- and post- interviews with the researcher’s Clinical Instructor and four weeks of intervention during which the observer collected field notes on student behavior and interactions.

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