If you are looking for new back to school activities to use for morning meeting that can help engage your students and keep them looking forward to learning these five below may work well for you.
Coming together each morning to share and participate in the activities below can help develop community and develop an excitement for learning. It can also build safety and trust.
These 5 ideas below show how to structure a morning meeting.
1. Meet together with a Song, Class Poem, or Chant
The first thing I will do is to gather everyone together each day and begin with a song. Music has a powerful ability to add an exciting, welcoming touch to mornings. This can also be beneficial for children who may not have had the best morning at home start the day off on a better note. Or those who are still learning what the whole school day is all about to feel more comfortable. Some songs I use in the classroom are simple so they can easily learn them in the beginning of the year.
To cue the class it’s time to meet on the rug, I would play Everybody Have a Seat by Dr. Jean and students would finish morning work and come over to the carpet. After that song, I would sometimes play the Wiggle Them Song by Dr. Jean! It is a funny song that gives children the chance to wiggle hands and fingers high and low and then hide them behind their back. It’s nice to use this as an attention grabber to start the morning.
For the beginning of the year when we are talking about our school rules and how to be a friend in class, we would sing the “Friends” song using sign language. The song is repetitive so it’s easy to learn. It is also a quick song which helps when children’s attention spans are shorter in the beginning.
After singing the song, it is a great time to ask, What do we do in our class to be a good friend?” Children share answers and we talk about how helping others, using kind words, asking friends to play, and sharing are all part of making friends.
Encouraging children to have compassion for others, develop friend making skills, and help others is the idea behind the song. All children will have different friends they play with more than others in the class.
However, the song promotes the idea that all children are accepted and sets the community building tone that children cannot say, “He’s not my friend!” It teaches acceptance rather than exclusion.
We model sharing in our class at the beginning of the year. When we talk about sharing it doesn’t mean the child has to share the item right away if they just got to that center and began using the materials.
We talk about how a student can say no if they are not finished and they can tell the student in a nice way that they can have it when they are done with it.
Friends, Friends 123
(Children use sign language for Friends and the numbers)
All my friends are here with me!
Your my friend, Your my friend, Your my friend
( Children point to their friends and use the sign for friend.)
Friends, Friends 123
All my friends are here with me!
Midway through the year, I often switch the song to an upbeat song by Jack Hartman! He has a great morning song called, “Let’s Start this Day!” which is on his Hip Hop Alpha Bop CD Vol. 2! This gives children an opportunity to tap their knees, say good morning and gives a welcoming tone to the morning!
Towards the end of the year, I switch to an active morning song that involves partner work. This song is from Dr. Jean and is called “Hello Friend”. It is fun for children to greet their friend with a handshake, boogie on down, give a fist bump, and turn around! This is a very fun active song which can be perfect at the end of the year.
2. Create the rules together and review and model them weekly
Even though children in Preschool, Kindergarten, and First are young they often know right away they do not want anyone to take their things. These simple discussions about what makes a happy classroom are helpful. I often write down the children’s words on chart paper after reading a story about a Monster who came to school who doesn’t listen.
We talk about what we don’t want in our classroom, then the children model and help the Monster learn the rules at school. By the end of the story and discussion we have a list of some general safety rules. As a class we talk about how Monster made mistakes and that he just needed to learn what to do to help have a happy, safe classroom.
The next day, I show children the poster of the rules. The rules are simple such as 1. We listen to our teachers and friends. 2. We are kind to each other 3. We help keep our classroom clean 4. We make safe choices. Four is helpful for all the places where you are not with your students. We often talk about what the safe choices are in the lunchroom, on the playground, and bus from time to time depending on the class needs.
Then students sign a contract with their fingerprints or handprint and recite a pledge individually or as a whole class.
They may come up in front of the class, place their fingerprint or handprint on the paper and you can have their class picture to add to a special Safe Keeper Treasure Box or a Safe Keeper Bulletin Board.
Then they say “I promise to do my best to keep our classroom happy and safe.” and everyone cheers! You can even give them a special badge announcing them as an official “Safe Keeper of the Classroom.”
Here is a FREE SafeKeeper Pledge so you can use for a class bulletin board and add each students’ picture.
Morning meetings are perfect for reviewing the rule chart in the beginning of the year, discussing and modeling how to ask what they need and instead of taking supplies or center time toys without asking they learn through modeling two to three times a week before they begin to internalize this skill. Especially if this is the student’s first formal academic setting it can be vastly different from home where they may have siblings grabbing items from them daily.
3. Ask the Question of the Day
Asking the question of the day allows each child to be heard and individually communicate with the teacher and learn about their peers. Sometimes I will read the story first and then ask a question related to the book. Other times I may want to find out what they know about a topic first and engage them in discussing their experiences such as raking leaves or making a snowman.
The Summer questions are good for the beginning of the year as well as children can reflect on fun times they have had at the beach and fair! The Summer Question of the Day is FREE!
What I found helpful was having the whole year ready to go with seasonal, fun questions throughout the year so you can grab and go in the morning or plan one related to a specific book or topic.
I have found that question of the day opens communication, enhances counting and graphing as well as gives them opportunities to learn vocabulary words such as more and less.
4. Model Social Skills and Routines at Morning Meeting
Problem solve with the children and discuss any problems that arose during the day. In small group work are children having difficulty sharing supplies or taking turns? As the year goes on you may find that some children have difficulty with emotions and may feel angry and need help verbalizing. The Social Skills Morning Meeting Curriculum can be helpful for teaching children how to express and handle big feelings. The Social Skills Morning Curriculum teaches children how to connect, talk about feelings, provide problem solving solutions, and help them develop self-control.
You may find that lining up is particularly difficult for students this year so you can discuss this and take opportunities to model the skill that is needed during that time. Often at the beginning of the year children have difficulty because they are still learning the routines. Helping them follow the routines by teaching with social stories, visuals in the class, and visuals that travel with them can help them know the routine and feel confident that they are doing things correctly.
5. Delegate Helper of the Day or an Individual Job Chart
Incorporate a job chart enables children to have autonomy and feel they are contributing and are an important part of the classroom community. Having a plant helper, door holder, janitor, and morning greeter for example give children a chance to develop important life skills at a time when they are wanting to do things on their own. The Morning Greeter can be modeled by you as you greet each child and then they can take over after it is modeled. Children choose a greeting from the Morning Greeting Chart and they can greet the Morning Greeter.
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